While the aim of all subsidy schemes is to increase the income of the beneficiary households so that they can meet their requirements, replacing them with the UBI will also mean losing some of the other benefits of these schemes.
In the absence of working and effective infrastructure, cash transfers cannot ensure that the poor and those most at risk will get the quality of life they deserve.
In a recent discussion in Washington, the chief economic adviser talked on Aadhaar failure rates, pushing Universal Basic Income forward and how demonetisation’s popular response humbled him.
Discussion on serious economic challenges currently faced by India is either absent or trivialised in this year’s Economic Survey.
Providing a UBI in place of existing schemes will not change the fundamentally unequal income distribution in the country. The way to resolve the crisis is a redistribution from the rich to the poor.
Universal Basic Income is only an idea in the making, but within its first year of conceptualisation, it seems like the first two terms of the acronym have already been reduced to notional ideas.
Relieving the cash constraints of the poor is a critical way forward in the light of the high dependence of the poor upon non-institutional lenders.
Far from the UBI schemes proposed in advanced economies, in India it’s a question of whether the Centre can juggle its finances and find a better way of delivering welfare.