Events; News & Events

India: First National Conference on Universal Basic Income

On March 29-30th 2017, the India Network for Basic Income (INBI) and Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA Bharat) held the first national conference on universal basic income (UBI) in India. During the conference a series of panel discussions and lectures were held, debating and exploring a range of issues concerning basic income in India. The two-day conference was held at the India International Center in New Delhi.

The conference comes as basic income proposals in India have increased in popularity. For example, this year India’s annual Economic Survey included an entire chapter on the prospects of a universal basic income in India.  India’s finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, presented the survey which describes the state of the economy from the previous year, and its prospects for the future.  The chapter on basic income was authored by Arvind Subramanian, the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India. To read more about the economic survey, see Basic Income News coverage here.

Below are a few of the lectures and discussions from the conference that were presented in English. To see the full range of lectures at the conference, see INBI’s YouTube channel here.


Renana Jhabvala – Purpose and Direction

Jhabvala spoke as an associate of the SEWA. She spoke about the results of some of the unconditional basic income pilot projects in India.


Arvind Subramanian – Inaugural Address

Subramanian is the Chief Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance. In this recorded speech, he delivered the inaugural address for the conference, in which he outlined the three most attractive features on UBI in his eyes: 1) Universality, 2) Unconditionality, and 3) Agency.  He also argued that UBI in India could only be made affordable if it were to replace at least some existing welfare measures.


Haseeb Drabu – Opening remarks

Drabu is the Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir regions in India. In this speech, he explored the ‘fundamental’ question: can India pool all of its social spending to create a basic income for people below the poverty line?


Guy Standing – Justifying UBI

Standing is a Research Professor at SOAS, University at London and Co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN). According to him, these are the three major justifications for UBI:1) Social justice (reduction of inequality), 2) Enhancing republican freedom and 3) Increasing the economic security of recipients.


Mathew Cherian – Starting With The Aged

Cherian is the CEO of HelpAge India. He made a case in favor of UBI for senior citizens, by addressing the question of whether senior citizens should be the first to receive a basic income.


Subir Gokarn – The Case for Basic Income

Gokarn is the Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund. Although he did not openly advocate a UBI, he did argue against categorically rejecting UBI.


Arvind Virmani – Closing Remarks

Virmani is the former Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India.  He argued that poverty alleviation has failed and what is needed is poverty elimination. He called for a UBI to replace the hundreds of poverty alleviation schemes at work in India.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Austin Douillard

About Austin Douillard

Austin Douillard has written 4 articles.

Austin is currently studying Critical International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales.

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The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Poverty of a poor family will go away the day when a family will start receiving just Rs.1000/- pm regularly. So The CEA, Finance Minister Jaitley Ji, Modi Ji and other social workers and the research scientists for Elimination / Removal of Poverty should just plan to allocate, Rs.81.000 Cr for July 17 to March 2018, and Rs.1,08,000Cr per year from 2018-19 onwards. for a Direct Cash/Bank Transfer of Rs.1000/- the a/cs of 9 Cr Housewives/families to eradicate poverty, hunger, undernourishment, malnutrition, improve per capita income of these 9 Cr poor families by Rs.12000/- per year and to reduce the deaths of Mothers at childbirth, of infants, of children and of Senior citizens who die due to non availability of sufficient food, nutrition and cash to get medicines and to visit doctor/ hospital. Modiji, Jaitleyji, and CEA of India and all state Govts can allocate and spend Rs.3,00,000+Cr in their budgets per year for poverty alleviation, food security, fertilizer and other subsidies,Narega,Garib Kalyan Yojna, welfare of SCs, STs,small and marginal farmers, rural and urban development, agriculture, welfare of minorities,health and welfare of women , children and senior citizens, with no tangible/real gains to the poorest on the ground/ reality. Sorry they cannot find out and plan to allocate just Rs.1,08,000 Cr per year for 9 crore poor families with an apprx population of around 34-35 Cr i.e,27% of total population which is a little above the poor (BPL) population. These leaders lack sincerity and will to really remove poverty and to raise India’s Image in the world measured as per performance under MDGs under UNDP., for removal of Hunger,Poverty,MMR,IMR, undernourishment, malnutrition and women empowerment.
    P.S. Total amount of Rs.90,000+ Cr is lying unclaimed for more than 10 years with Post Offices, Banks, Insurance Cos, Other Financial Institutions,PPF, EFPO,PSUs, Navrattan Cos and Corporate Houses. for which Interest and dividends are being paid from the Profits of these institutions/Cos @5-6% per year on these unclaimed(DEAD) accounts and these specialists,advisors and Finance Ministers donot find Money for Direct Cash/Bank transfer of Rs.9000Cr per month for these 9(Nine) Crore families to save these families from deaths due to poverty, hunger, undernourishment ,malnutrition and lack of access to medicines and doctors/hospitals.

  • Dear Sir,
    I am really surprised that you with so much knowledge and long practical experience of working in the Govt.have come to understand now that Poverty elimination is required. The central and state budgets with total allocations of Rs.300,000Cr+ for poverty alleviation, food security, Narega, rural, agricultural development, welfare of SCs, STs, marginal,small farmers, minorities, health and welfare of women, children and senior citizens and more than 200+ other central and state welfare schemes have not significantly changed the plight of the poor. India still lags far behind in achievement of MDGs under UNDP. for removal of poverty,hunger, undernourishment, malnutrition,deaths of mothers at childbirth, of newborns, infants, children and seniors health and medical care.

    Just a Direct Cash/ Bank Transfer of Rs. 1000/- pm i.e,Rs.9000/- Cr p.m. i.e,Rs.1,08,000Cr per year, on a regular basis, in the a/cs of housewives of 9 (NINE) Cr. poorest families i.e, 35-36Cr poorest in India i,e.27% of total population of 125-30 Cr will totally abolish/ eliminate poverty in India from the day it is started, may be July 17, Aug or Sept. If there is a strong will and sincerity to raise India’s image in the world by removing poverty,hunger, undernourishment, malnutrition ,MMR & IMR with the political Leadership, specially with Modiji , do you feel it is difficult for Modiji & Jaitleyji to just provide/ rearrange Rs.9000Cr p.m. for 9(Nine) Cr. poor families from the existing/ present Central budget allocations of 2,70,000+Cr for poverty alleviation, welfare of SCs, STs, farmers, women, children,seniors, minorities and subsidies for food security and fertilizers or just to arrange 72000Cr funds for this biggest PROJECT, by any other planning, may be, out of 90,000+ Cr unclaimed deposits lying with Post offices, banks, financial institutions, PPF, EPFO, PSUs,Navrattan Cos, Insurance Cos and Corporates for the last 10+ years. There should be a survey in January 18, after implementing this DBT @1000 p.m. from July or Aug 2017, to prepare for an allocation of Rs.1,08,000Cr for this in 2018-19 budget onwards.

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