Would it be possible to provide people with a basic income as a right? The idea has a long history. This book draws on two pilot schemes conducted in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, in which thousands of men, women and children were provided with an unconditional monthly cash payment. In a context in which the Indian government at national and state levels spends a vast amount on subsidies and selective schemes that are chronically expensive, inefficient, inequitable and subject to extensive corruption, there is scope for switching at least some of the spending to a modest basic income. This book explores what would be likely to happen if this were done.
The book draws on a series of evaluation surveys conducted over the course of the eighteen months in which the main pilot was in operation, supplemented with detailed case studies of individuals and families. It looks at the impact on health and nutrition, on schooling, on economic activity, women's agency and the welfare of those with disabilities.
Above all, the book considers whether or not a basic income could be transformative, in not only improving individual and family welfare but in promoting economic growth and development, as well as having an emancipatory effect for people long mired in conditions of poverty and economic insecurity.
If you want to help the poor along all dimensions - education, health, financial inclusion, basic amenities and even asset creation - put additional money in their hands with no conditions attached. This is the simple but powerful message of this pioneering study. Vulnerable groups including women, Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the disabled gain more from the cash transfers than the general population. And - surprise, surprise - the cash has no effect on the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. – Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics, Columbia University, USA
This important book contributes to the debate on basic income in India by analysing data and detailed case studies. Many countries have adopted cash transfers as a way of improving human development and building resilience. This book shows that the time has come to do the same in India. – Lise Grande, UN Resident Representative, India
Sarath Davala is Senior Researcher for SEWA, the Self-Employed Women's Association of India, and has a doctorate in sociology from the University of Delhi. Renana Jhabvala is President of SEWA Bharat and National Co-ordinator of SEWA, a trade union of women with about two million members, and is a mathematician with degrees from Harvard and Yale. Soumya Kapoor Mehta is an economist working as a consultant for the World Bank in Delhi; she has written extensively on social policy issues and worked with UN bodies and the Government of India. Guy Standing is Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. He is co-president of BIEN, the Basic Income Earth Network, and the author of The Precariat (2011) and A Precariat Charter (2014).