28 January 2019
New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised a minimum income guarantee scheme for the poor if voted to power in the next general election.
But what will it look like? Arvind Subramanian, India's former Chief Economic Adviser, had floated the idea of a Universal Basic Income of Rs 1,500 a month for every poor rural household in the Economic Survey for 2016-17.
The survey included a 40-page chapter on UBI that outlined the three components of the proposed program - universality, unconditionality and agency.
Incidentally on Monday, Subramanian released a report co-authored by him which proposed a quasi-universal basic rural income (QUBRI) of Rs 18,000 per year to each rural household, except those which are "demonstrably well-off", at an estimated cost of Rs. 2.64 lakh crore to tackle agrarian distress.
Experts say what Gandhi has promised is not what is in the UBI floated by Subramanian.
This would be a progressive income scheme, said Praveen Chakravarty, former investment banker and head of the party's data analytics department.
The Congress feels that more cash in the hands of the poor will also boost consumption. Income in the hands of the poor automatically also leads to a consumption boost of the economy. All the details of funding will be in the Congress manifesto. Praveen Chakravarty, Chairperson, Data Analytics Department, Indian National Congress.