Universal Basic Income

News: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has released the Trinamool Congress manifesto for the 2021 Assembly election. The manifesto, among other things, promises universal basic income for every family.

  • Under the income scheme, all the 1.6 crore families under the general category will get ₹500 a month and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population ₹1,000 a month.
  • The direct transfers will be in the name of the women head of the family.

What is Universal Basic Income?

  • It is a programme for providing all citizens of a geographic area (a country or state) with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status.
  • The main idea behind UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens.
  • The essential principle behind Universal basic income is the idea that all citizens are entitled to a livable income,irrespective of the circumstances they’re born in.

Components:

  • Universality (all citizens included).
  • Unconditionality (no prior condition).
  • Periodic (Payments at periodic regular intervals).
  • Payments in cash (not food vouchers or service coupons).

Benefits:

  • Provide secured income to individuals.
  • Reduce poverty and income inequality in society.
  • Increase the purchasing power of every poor which will further increase aggregate demand.
  • Easy to implement because no identification of the beneficiary is involved.
  • Reduce the wastage of government money because its implementation is very simple.

Arguments in favour:

  • The Economic Survey of India 2016-17 has advocated the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty.
  • Other Supporters of the UBI programme include Economics Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides, and tech leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

Challenges involved:

  • High cost involved in implementing UBI is a major factor contributing towards lack of political will in working towards the universal basic income in India.
  • It would reduce the motivation for work and might encourage people to live off assured cash transfers and it is simply unaffordable.