BIEN Congress 2019

BIEN Congress 2019

BIEN Congress 2019

BIEN Congress 2019

Basic Income as
Freedom and Development

19th BIEN Congress in Hyderabad, India

22-25, August 2019

Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) is a global network with 35 national and regional affiliates. Its primary objective is to foster informed discussion about basic income throughout the world. Each year, BIEN organizes an international Congress, hosted by one of its affiliates.

India Network for Basic Income (INBI) along with NALSAR University of Law is hosting the 19th BIEN Congress in Hyderabad, India, from 22nd to 25th of August 2019.

Congress Theme: Basic Income as Freedom and Development

The theme of the Congress is ‘Basic Income as Freedom and Development’. Basic Income is an idea that is evoking curiosity and attention of people from a wide variety of national and cultural contexts, from leaders of different socio-political domains. Irrespective of the generic meaning that we attempt to give it, the groundswell that we witness today is producing its own local meanings. Each of these meanings seems to emerge from its own unique contextual starting point. The year 2019 is virtually being declared as the ‘Year of the Basic Income’, because the idea is reverberating across the world.

In this chaotic multiple renderings and interpretations, we observe that Basic Income is being seen both as Freedom and Development. These two notions are not mutually exclusive or distinctively apart, as often they are made out to be. Development ideally ought to lead to Freedom, and equally so the other way round. In certain contexts, the immediate appeal of the idea of Basic Income seems to be ‘Development’ in terms of addressing hunger and other forms of deprivation, access to education and healthcare. In other contexts, the immediacy may be felt as Freedom from alienating jobs that most of us are forced to do for a living. In either case, what emerges is that an unconditional Basic Income is seen as having tremendous potential to liberate us from the new forms of slavery that the current phase of capitalist economy subjects us to.

This BIEN Congress seeks to explore this diversity. We have identified the following themes to explore in different plenary sessions and concurrent sessions.

> Click here to download the Congress brochure < 

> Appeal for Funding <

BIEN Civic Forum

The Congress will be for four days. The first day, that is, 22nd August will be India Day which is being organised under the new BIEN initiative called BIEN Civic Forum. The deliberations of this day will focus on the Basic Income debate and policy initiatives and the ground level experience in India. All the delegates are encouraged to attend the India Day.

The main Congress will be inaugurated on 23rd morning and will conclude at 2:45pm on 25th August 2019. The General assembly of BIEN will be convened at 3pm the same day.

Basic Income Short Films Exhibition

The Congress will have a Basic Income Short Films Exhibition showcasing short films made around the theme of basic income and related issues. We are
looking for sponsors to support this event.

>Click here to read more <

Basic Income Ideas Bazaar

In addition, we will also have a Basic Income Ideas Bazaar where organisations, artists and groups working on Basic Income and related themes, and wish to showcase their work will be provided space at a nominal cost.
The tables on the next page list the thematic areas proposed for the four days of the Hyderabad Congress. We are in the process of contacting speakers for the plenary sessions. The final list will be provided by end of February 2019.

Registration of Delegates

Those who wish to attend the Congress, please register by filling out the online form . The Delegate Fee structure is as follows:

Type of Fee In Euro € In US Dollars $ In Indian Rupees ₹
Solidarity fee € 200 and above $ 229 ₹ 16400
Regular Fee € 125 $ 143 ₹ 10200
Delegates from low-income countries € 50 $ 57 ₹ 4000

We are encouraging delegates to come from low-income countries, and this fee is at a highly subsidized rate. Those of you, who can afford to pay, please consider opting for Solidarity Fee of 200 Euros and above. That would be a great help and contribution to the Congress.

Those who have institutional support, please opt for Regular Fee even if you are from low-income countries.

Students and research scholars who find these rates high, please write to Akhilesh Arya at for alternatives.

Call for Papers

Scholars, community organizer and artists are invited to make presentations pertaining to any of the following thematic areas. The abstracts (maximum 500 words) must reach us by February 25th 2019. Please mail your abstracts (in MS Word document) to:

If you need any clarifications, please write to Akhilesh Arya at the same address.

Thematic Areas for 19th BIEN Congress
1. Philosophical Perspectives on Basic Income
2. Basic Income, Unpaid Work and Women in the Informal Economy
3. Basic Income in Development Aid Debate: Is there a Paradigm-shift?
4. Diverse Worldviews on Basic Income
5. Basic Income as a Foundation of a Caring Economy and Society?
6. What forms of Freedom and What kind of Community Life does Basic Income promote?
7. Basic Income and Blockchain Technology: Are there Synergies?
8. Basic Income, Poverty and Rural Livelihoods
9. Basic Income, the Commons, and Sovereign Wealth Funds: Is Public Inheritance an emerging issue?
10. Basic Income Pilots: Opportunities and Limits
11. Basic Income and Political Action: What does it take to transform an Idea into Policy?
12. Basic Income and Corporate Philanthropy: Is Basic Income a better paradigm and way forward?
13. Basic Income and Children
14. Basic Income and Mental Health
15. Basic Income and Intentional Communities: What does this Experience Teach us?
16. Basic Income and Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Work and Society.
17. Financial Feasibility of Universal Basic Income


22 August 2019

Inaugural Session

Plenary One – Panel Discussion – Basic Income Debate: Telangana Focus


In early 2018, the southern province of Telangana introduced a cash transfer scheme for its entire 7 million farmers. This scheme is unconditional and universal (within farming community). This kicked off a major debate in the country about unconditional basic income, followed by a landslide victory for the ruling party in the local elections held in December 2018. All the political parties in the country are now examining the innovative elements of this scheme. In this panel we would like to bring all the key people who have designed it, supported it and evaluating it for an animated discussion.

2. Plenary Two – Panel Discussion – Basic Income Debate: India Focus

In India, the first wave of interest in basic income occurred in early 2017. The second wave occurred in early 2019 following the Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu initiative in the light of rural distress and farmers’ agitation. Though none of the current proposals resemble in any way the classical Universal Basic Income, the term is being used widely, and the feasibility and desirability discussed in newspapers regularly. What is the context in which the India debate is positioned? Who is supporting and who is opposing? What are the various arguments? Why does it appeal to political parties? And equally why does it appeal to the governments?


We plan to bring some of the best minds from within India and from overseas who are participating in the debate.

3. Spotlight on potential Basic Income policy in the state of Sikkim

4. Technological infrastructure required for implementing basic income in India

Thematic areas for Plenary Sessions

1 Philosophical Perspectives and Diverse Worldviews on Basic Income

Exploring different ideological perspectives and worldviews that see an unconditional Basic Income as a desirable component of a more equitable and inclusive society

2 Women’s Care and Unpaid Work: Is Basic Income an essential component of a new paradigm of Equity?

What implications and impact would basic income have on the lives women who constitute more than half of the global population? Can we talk of a sustainable society as long as we steal labour from women? Can an unconditional basic income remedy this structural inequity?

3 Is Basic Income the Foundation of a Caring Economy and Society?

Is it possible to build an economy and a society that is based on values of caring, sharing and partnering rather than power, domination and control? Is an unconditional basic income an essential ingredient of such a society?

4 The Emancipatory Potential: What forms of Freedom and what kind of Community Life does Basic Income promote?

Basic Income experiments across the world have demonstrated repeatedly that an unconditional basic income has a strong emancipatory effect of its recipients.  It loosens the constraints of existence and liberates the mind to seek a life and a community better than what we have now. What implications does this freedom and emancipation have on us and the communities that we dwell in?

5 Basic Income, the Commons and Sovereign Wealth Funds

Our society privileges and celebrates private inheritance, but it equally invisibilises what can be called our public inheritance, and the fact that it is people who own natural resources and the state is just a custodian. This perspective if implemented can radically transform the way we view, manage and account for our natural wealth and endowments.

6 BI Pilots: Opportunities and Limits of Evidence

In both the low income countries and in high income countries, there have been basic income pilot studies. While we already have the results of some of the studies, by mid-2019, we are likely to have more results. The Congress will deliberate both the results and also what they can achieve in terms of policy change?

7 Basic Income and Political Action: What does it take to transform and idea into policy?

It is one thing to have strong evidence from pilot studies and something else to get the acceptance of the policy makers and persuade them to act on it. There have been some pioneers among politicians and policy-makers across continents who have taken the plunge and implemented different versions unconditional income transfers, inspired by the spirit of the idea of basic income. Do we see them as first steps towards a full UBI? Or as distortions of the idea?

8 Development Aid and Corporate Philanthropy: Is Basic Income a Better Paradigm and Way Forward? 

In recent years, there has been a great deal of rethinking about the effectiveness of the current paradigms of giving aid either to countries or to communities. Unconditional Basic Income is increasingly emerging as a radical alternative to conventional notions of giving aid. We witness this shift as much within the UN think-tanks as that of corporate philanthropy.

9 Basic Income, Emerging Theories of Money and Alternative Models

Discussion about Universal Basic Income inevitably leads us to discussion about money and where it would come from. Further, it also moves to inter-rogating the origins and meaning of money and the institutions that control it. There are several initiatives in the world today that are articulating alter-native meanings of money and ways to decentralize it. This plenary would bring together such initiatives for a debate.

10 Basic Income and Children

Our Partners

INBI is partnering with the NALSAR University of Law in organizing the BIEN Congress in 2019. The venue of the Congress will be NALSAR campus, a sprawling expanse of 55 acres with state-of-the-art facilities, situated on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

INBI is also partnering with SEWA Madhya Pradesh, which played a key operational role in conducting the Madhya Pradesh Pilot Study. In collaboration with SEWA MP, INBI is producing short films and planning several campaign events in MP and other parts of the country in the run up for the Congress. SEWA is one of the largest membership based women’s organisations in the world, with over two million members in the informal economy.

INBI is partnering with an international voluntary group called WiseCoLab which plans to organize a major Hackathon in Hyderabad three weeks prior to the BIEN Congress and present the output at one of the sessions. The Hackathon itself will focus on the themes to be discussed at the BIEN Congress.

Mustardseed Trust is UK-registered charity founded by Béla Hatvany, Ellen Hatvany and Lauren Hatvany in 2001. Mustardseed enables organizations and individuals with a clear and compelling vision to create systems based on partnership that care for the well-being of the biosphere and the community of life. Our three focus areas are: 1. Culture shift from domination to partnership 2. The CAREconomy, new economic models based on the principals of partnership 3.Ecosystem preservation and restoration.
INBI is partnering with Mustardseed Trust and has been a recipient of an initial grant for the preparatory work of the Congress. In the forthcoming Congress, NALSAR, Mustardseed Trust and INBI are working together on conceptualising the session, ‘Basic Income and a Caring Economy.’ is a collective working on solutions to the pressing challenges that man-made world has posed to the Earth and its inhabitants. It is on a quest to identify what we need to transform our current growth driven local economies into one earth-wide caring economy. Based in Nice, France the group is as much engaged with the local issues as it is with global ones. INBI is partnering with Everyday to enrich the Congress with its resources. is an independent media platform attracting over 8 million visits per year. It publishes critical scholarship in accessible formats appropriate for students, activists, policymakers, and the general public. It covers topics ranging from migration to basic income, focussing on the structural political, economic, and social root causes of global exploitation. Combining academic rigour with journalistic clarity, its mission is to get the best of contemporary scholarship out of the ivory tower and to support evidence-based advocacy. opendemocracy is the media partner for the Congress.

LocalHi is our travel and logistics partner. For all travel and accommodation requirements delegates can contact them. This is necessary because the venue is 25 kilometers away from the city center, and the accommodation has to be found around the venue. The agency will provide travel and other related services beyond the Congress. They can customize travel packages for you to travel within India. Those interested, please contact Prashant or Sudhir directly via their website .

The Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society (CEPS) is a research unit of the Institute of Arts and Humanities at the University of Minho, in Portugal, and specializing in the areas of Political Theory and Applied Ethics. The theoretical paradigms used are those of Ethics and Political Philosophy.

INBI is partnering with Grundeinkommen Television in organising its Short Film Exhibition @ the Congress. G TV is part of the Initiative Grundeinkommen a pioneering civil society initiative established in 2008.


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