Basic Income Discussion
Basic Income Discussion:
One Idea, Many Contexts
Basic Income is a big global idea which has gained traction across geographical locations and political spectrum. However, in praxis, all great ideas have to begin in a context. The discussion about basic income starts from within the existing discussion on social thinking and ways of protecting the vulnerable sections of the population. The discussion also flows from the inadequacies of the current welfare system. The greater the inadequacy and failure of the existing system the more there is embracing of new ideas.
In several country contexts, basic income has come into discussion because of the failing welfare system – one which is progressively becoming dysfunctional because of its lack of fit with the current ground realities.
For instance, in India, the discussion of basic income appeared in the context of poverty alleviation and the inefficient welfare system riddled with corruption and inefficient delivery. The MP Pilot project was designed to test the efficacy of unconditional cash transfers as opposed to targeted and means-tested welfare programs. The government’s paper on basic income submitted to the Indian Parliament analyses and discusses the reorganising of its welfare spending.
The Finland pilot on the other hand was testing the comparative efficacy of basic income, as opposed to the current conditional and means-tested welfare benefits provided to the unemployed persons. The question was: Will the unconditional basic income motivate the unemployed people more in actively seeking employment? And get out of the poverty trap?
The arguments in favour of universal basic income coming from the Silicon Valley corporate leaders is in the context of the increasing robotisation of the production processes and the threat of extreme dispensability of human beings in the industry.
Therefore, people who are invoking the idea of basic income and advocating are coming in from a variety of entry points. This signals, if at all anything, the fact that the old wineskins are no longer able to contain the new wine and are tearing. We do need a new wineskin to hold the new wine.