From state capacity constraints to the dangers of a one-size-fits-all approach, there's plenty to consider
These are heady times for the Indian welfare state. Comments by government officials have renewed hope that a universal basic income, or a variant thereof, is under serious consideration. Presenting the state’s budget earlier this month, Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu proposed a targeted basic income in the form of cash transfers. Articulating a more critical view, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, in a recent interview, stated that India simply lacked the fiscal room to deliver a universal basic income benchmarked to the poverty line. Chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian had indicated in September that the Economic Survey will likely examine the mechanics of implementing a universal basic income in detail. What practical and analytical criteria might the Survey’s evaluation, slated for release on Tuesday, incorporate?
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