India Pilot Study

Basic Income movement in India started in 2010 when SEWA- Bharat, the umbrella organisation of all SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) unions in the country, decided to experiment with unconditional cash transfers to the rural poor. The union’s initiative comes against the backdrop of inefficient delivery government’s welfare schemes meant to alleviate poverty. A research collaboration with Prof. Guy Standing of the SOAS University of London ensued, and resulted in a major pilot study.

Between 2011 and 2013, SEWA Bharat and SEWA MP jointly conducted the study in nine villages in the district of Indore in Madhya Pradesh. UNICEF provided the funds and Prof. Guy Standing was the Principal Researcher. The study is now widely known around the world as MP Pilot Study. In late 2014, a book summarising the main findings of the pilot study was published.

S. Davala, R. Jhabvala, S. K. Mehta and G. Standing (2015), Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India. London and New Delhi: Bloomsbury

The first, larger pilot was conducted in eight general caste villages. The second was done in a Bhil tribal village. In these nine villages, all individuals were paid a modest unconditional basic income each month.
For the purpose of study, ‘control’ villages with similar socio-economic characteristics were selected where basic income was not paid.
In the first pilot, during the first twelve months Rs. 200 (3 USD) was paid to every adult and half of that amount to children below 18 years. For five months after this, the amount was increased to Rs. 300 (4.5 USD). In the tribal pilot, for a period of 12 months, Rs.300 (4.5 USD) was paid to each adult and half of that amount to children. In both the pilots put together, about 6000 individuals from about 1100 households received a monthly basic income for 12 to 18 months.
A Baseline survey census, an Interim Evaluation sample survey, and a Final Evaluation Survey Census were conducted in order to evaluate the situation of the recipients and their households, before, during and after receiving the basic income transfers. These surveys were also conducted in the ‘control’ villages where the households did not receive a basic income. In total, the surveys covered over 15,000 individuals. In addition, a hundred in-depth case studies were carried out over the period of the experiment as were interviews with key respondents.

INBI’s main objectives

The basic income transfers were to individuals.

Everyone in the selected village received the basic income, which means it was universal.

The transfers were unconditional.

Money in the first pilot was paid in to a bank account which in most cases, particularly that of women, were opened especially for the project; in the case of the tribal village, all women opened accounts in SEWA MP’s Credit Cooperative Society, and money deposited in these accounts. In the case of men, cash was paid directly since the bank was far away from the village.

The transfers were on a monthly basis.

In the first pilot, money was paid from June 2011 to November 2012, whereas in the case of the tribal village, money was paid from February 2012 to January 2013.

Click here for the Main Technical Report and the Executive summary of the main findings of the MP Pilot Study.

Four years after the study was completed, a pilot study follow-up was undertaken to assess how many of the positive effects continued and how many did not.

Click here to access the report.


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