According to the World Bank, India is a lower-middle income country, but it still has the highest number of people living below the extreme poverty line in the world. Over a thousand existing anti-poverty programmes have not resolved the problem.
But, following successful pilot experiments and pressure from civil society, the government is now beginning to consider giving an annual basic income of 10-15,000 rupees (£118 to £177) to every person in India.
A serious pay rise
According to the most recent survey (2013), the average yearly income in India was around £495 per person. The basic income would therefore provide a 24-36% rise in income for the average person. For the millions of people with below-average incomes, the impact would be even larger.
If India leads the way, all the world may follow
Where does this leave our proposals for a worldwide basic income? At World Basic Income we are thrilled to witness the progress being made in India. If successful, this initiative could secure a decent standard of living for hundreds of millions of people, and may help to redress India’s staggering inequality. It could also help to drive progress towards basic income in other countries, and towards the introduction of a complementary worldwide scheme, by popularising the idea and providing evidence of the benefits.
Tandem basic incomes – national and global
We have always hoped that a world basic income would run in parallel with national basic incomes in every country. National tax-and-spend is essential for circulating money fairly, and it allows populations to decide what levels of tax and basic income are right for them.
Basic incomes provide a safety net, giving us all security for our standard of living. A worldwide basic income is intended to provide the ultimate safety net, to prevent anyone from crashing to the most extreme levels of poverty, no matter where they live. World basic income also aims to redistribute income around the globe – a task that countries would struggle to achieve through national schemes alone.
So we’ll be keeping a close eye on progress in India, and cheering on initiatives for basic income wherever they appear. We create the path by walking it, and in this movement we must walk together.