As 2017 takes off, the focus on the economic arena seems to be shifting towards ‘Minimum Basic Income.’ Yes you read it right! After GST and demonetisation became the show stoppers for 2016, the 2017 game plan is perhaps steering in the direction of guaranteeing a universal basic income. Well the informed circles indicate that the Modi Government is most probably already working on a report that targets granting Universal Basic Income to every Indian citizen as per certain basic parameters. The Economic Survey that is due on January 31 is set to be the curtain raiser and introduce the idea to the general public.
While we need to wait and watch whether this is actually announced and parameters that might be taken into consideration, broadly the idea of the basic minimum income has many positives and worth being considered. Looking at the global examples, it sure seems to be an idea with lots of promises. That said however there are some challenges too and those cannot be undermined in the given economic construct. While there are many who object to the idea as a way where the Government is actually handing out doles to citizen, the question that should be more pertinent is would it in any way be better than subsidies.
Subsidies in our country comes across as much of a necessary evil as perhaps the gravitational pull is to maintaining the Earth’s balance in the entire Universe. Every year our Government spends close to 3,00,000 crore as subsidies and MNREGA payout but unfortunately the inability to stop leakages and corruption has led to a limited impact in terms of common good. In comparison, the Universal Basic Income, is perhaps a way of direct transfer of money to the beneficiary’s account without the middle man looking to milk the opportunity. If the DBT is any precedence, this step in extension of the government’s Jan Dhan-Adhar-Mobile Money initiatives could perhaps go a long way in resolving market distortions.