See More on Facebook

Analysis, News, Politics

Basic Income in India has been tried before

Is Rahul Gandhi’s basic income a ploy, history holds on a lesson.


Written by

Updated: January 31, 2019

Speaking to a rally of farmers in Chhattisgarh on Monday, opposition candidate Rahul Gandhi announced that if his party is voted into power in the country’s upcoming national elections then it will introduce a Universal Basic Income of sorts.

The “minimum income guarantee” would go out to every “poor person” in India—meaning those that fall within a minimum threshold level of income—and could potentially replace other government welfare systems: subsidies on food, fuel, etc. By the international standard set out by the World Bank, nearly 22 percent of the Indian population falls below the poverty line.

The idea of basic income, or minimum income, has been attempted in other countries before. Universal Basic Income experiments have been carried out on small scales in Ontario, Canada as well as in Finland. But has it ever been tried in India?

The answer is yes, and the results were promising.

Two important studies of such unconditional cash payments have been carried out in India, one in Madhya Pradesh and one in Delhi. The Madhya Pradesh study assessed the impacts of these cash transfers alongside existing welfare schemes, like food subsidies. The Delhi test examined the outcomes when a minimum income program takes the place of such schemes.

In the Delhi trial, researchers found that giving a randomly selected 100 households 1,000 rupees per month in lieu of food subsidies resulted in no reduction of calorie consumption, and raised spending on nutritious food goods.

In Madhya Pradesh, the experiment, which was launched by UNICEF saw over 6,000 people, both adults and children, receive a basic income for one year to seventeen months.

Guy Standing, a professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and a principal researcher on the pilots said the results of the studies showed that “basic income can be transformative.”

The cash grants increased savings, and improved living conditions. Households that received the cash had better access to clean water, and had increase purchasing power overall. Whether those results will remain as positive if such small-scale studies were to be extrapolated out to include all of India remains to be seen.

In terms of this election, however, Gandhi’s announcement could be a true game-changer.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: ANN’s Board representative Mr Zhou Li, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of China Daily Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong, was recently appointed Deputy Editor-in-Chief of China Daily Group

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, News, Politics

Coronavirus: 2 new cases confirmed; 4 more, including private hospital doctor, discharged

 Two patients from the Grace Assembly of God cluster, cases 49 and 73, were also discharged.  Two new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) were confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Feb 26) and four others have recovered and were discharged. This brings the total number of cases here to 93, of which 62 have fully recovered. Case 59, the private hospital doctor, was among the four discharged. The 61-year-old Singaporean was confirmed to have the virus on Feb 13 and had been warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. He is not linked to any of the five known clusters but is a non-medical contact of case 72, a 40-year-old man from China who holds a Singapore work pass. Case 56, a Banglad


By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Analysis, News, Politics

Japan provides protective gear for use in battling coronavirus

 The government of Japan has given personal protective supplies to the Ministry of Health to help medical staff if they are required to care for people infected with the coronavirus. The items were handed over at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday by the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takewaka Keizo, to Minister of Health Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong. The supplies comprised 4,680 isolation gowns, 6,100 gloves, 6,000 N95 masks, 13,200 surgical masks, 27 goggles, and 240 bottles of alcohol hand rub. Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong thanked the government of Japan for its assistance, saying “On behalf of Laos, we would like to express our appreciation to the government of Japan for its continuing support to our country.” The ministry has been st


By Vientiane Times
February 27, 2020

Analysis, News, Politics

Hong Kong govt records first deficit in 15 years amid economic slump

Budget includes US$1,200 handout to each resident aged 18 and above, low-interest loans for small firms and tax cuts. Slammed by a perfect storm of trade war, prolonged unrest and coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong’s already frail economy is likely to remain in a slump in the year ahead, even as the government carves out a more than HK$120 billion (S$22 billion) stimulus package with a generous cash handout to aid industries and individuals. In his budget delivery yesterday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan expressed hope that once the Covid-19 outbreak blows over, the economy will bounce back. Pending approval from Parliament – or the Legislative Council – Mr Chan said he would disburse HK$10,000 (S$1,800) to each Hong Kong permanent reside


By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Analysis, News, Politics

EDITORIAL: Final battle between Anwar and Dr Mahathir

The ongoing political crisis is seen as the ultimate battle between Anwar and Dr Mahathir as the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia. The ongoing political crisis for the last few days is believed to end soon once the king decides after meeting all members of parliament. A total of 222 members of parliament have expressed their stand to the king. Voters would also figure out that the stand of the elected representatives picked by them during last elections. Voters witness political parties keep changing their stand. Each party is gauging the stand that would best fit its political interests. They are judged by voters based on the reasons cited to save the country. We need to have a new government to run the country and the current situation should not be


By Sin Chew Daily
February 27, 2020

Analysis, News, Politics

Lao Airlines to suspend flights to South Korea

Laos’ national airline, the Lao Airlines State Enterprise, will suspend flights to the Republic of Korea beginning in March after a large number of passengers cancelled their bookings amid the coronavirus outbreak. Director of the airline’s Commercial Department, Mr Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, told Vientiane Times that a flight from Vientiane to Seoul did not depart on Tuesday because all the passengers cancelled their reservations. “We have very few passengers on the Vientiane to Seoul flight. We have to fly back to Vientiane empty because many Koreans have stopped travelling overseas since the outbreak of Covid-19 in China,” he added. “Meanwhile, we fly from Vientiane to Seoul once daily and have to bear the high cost of flying empty,


By Vientiane Times
February 26, 2020

Analysis, News, Politics

Xi’s diplomacy bolsters epidemic fight

Phone talks, meetings with foreign leaders boost international confidence. China’s active, open and transparent co-operation with the World Health Organization and relevant countries in responding to the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has demonstrated that it shoulders its responsibility as a major international player in helping the world curb the contagion, experts said. The outbreak has also given prominence to the value of President Xi Jinping’s vision on building a community with a shared future for mankind as the international community needs to work together to eliminate the threat of the disease in order to uphold global public health security, they said. Speaking on Sunday during a videoconference on coordinating epidemic control and


By China Daily
February 26, 2020