Indian government advisor suggests some areas of the country may soon introduce UBI

India’s Chief Economic Advisor, Arvind Subramanian, recently told reporters that he would “bet” that one or two Indian states would be implementing universal basic income (UBI) by 2020.

The high-level government advisor’s comments occurred within the context of the release of the 2017-2018 Economic Survey of India. The Economic Survey is a regular report which examines the country’s current economic status, and attempts to make some predictions regarding future growth.

The last Economic Survey, for 2016-2017, gave some details regarding the possibility of India adopting a form of UBI. The survey explored the possibility of an income which would be quasi-universal, being distributed to approximately 75% of the population. This does not match BIEN’s own definition of UBI, but was referred to as a UBI within the survey.

While its approach to the subject was broadly positive, the 2016-2017 Economic Survey stopped short of recommending that a UBI be implemented across the country. Subramanian has spoken positively on UBI in the past, saying during an interview in April of last year, “There could be, potentially, several positive impacts – you provide people with a minimum wherewithal with which they can access credit, with which they can invest – and one of the things I think is worth emphasising about UBI is the kind of psychological liberation you can provide for people.” However, in the same interview, he also indicated some issues which could arise, stating, “You can’t pay for it [UBI] unless you get rid of something else.”

A recent report from Carnegie India, India’s Basic Income Bedevilled by Details, by Shaksam Khosla, praised Subramanian for bringing “substantial rigour” to the debate on UBI in India, but also recommended that, prior to any implementation, a large-scale experimental test of the system should be carried out. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) describes itself as a global network of policy research centres with the aim of advancing peace through analysis and development of new policy ideas, as well as direct engagement with government, business and civil society. Khosla is a Research Analyst with Carnegie India, the CEIP’s sixth international centre to be set up.

Arvind Subramanian took office in October 2014. He previously worked for the International Monetary Fund, and has also been a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Global Development in America.


Edited by: Dawn Howard

About Claire Bott

Claire Bott has written 29 articles.

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.

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