India: Congress party gets serious about basic income and reaches out to Thomas Piketty for policy design support

Thomas Piketty. Picture credit to: Books Live (Sunday Times)

Details are being fed into Rahul Gandhi’s promise of a minimum income guarantee to poor Indians, an announcement made earlier this month. Thomas Piketty, an authority in economics, and particularly in inequality analysis, is assisting Ghandi’s Congress party in designing the policy onto the Indian context.

Although Piketty has a particular vision on basic income, he has supported a universal, unconditional basic income. At some point the particulars of his proposal may have generated confusion, but it seems his contribution to what can be a real shot at implementing (a kind of) basic income in India prove his resolve on this matter. “It is high time to move from the politics of caste conflict to the politics of income and wealth distribution”, Piketty has stated. MIT professor Abhijit Baerjee is also helping to materialize this idea on the Congress manifesto for the upcoming elections. Economy Nobel prize winner Angus Deaton was also contacted by party officials, but hasn’t apparently been involved in the scheme’s design.

The Congress’s proposal for its “minimum income guarantee” was told, by party officials, to be “anything above 10000 Rupees per month” per household. For a typical family, that would amount to 66% of the family’s net living wage, which contrasts with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) most recent promise for implementation of a basic income-type of policy (6000 Rupees/year, per small farmer).

More information at:

André Coelho, “India: Basic income is being promised to all poor people in India”, Basic Income News, February 1st 2019

Expenditure and Living Wage calculation in India

Scroll staff, “Minimum income guarantee: Economist Thomas Piketty confirms he is helping Congress with the scheme”,, February 7th 2019

Thomas Piketty, “Is our basic income really universal”, Le blog de Thomas Piketty, February 13th 2017

Genvieve Shanahan, “FRANCE: Piketty’s comments on basic income cause confusion”, Basic Income News, February 3rd 2017

D.K. Singh, “Thomas Piketty & Angus Deaton help frame Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income promise”, The Print, January 31st 2019

André Coelho, “India: The Indian government also promises basic income to farmers”, Basic Income News, February 12th 2019

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 365 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

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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