The pandemic has caused unprecedented crises and disruption around the world. It has caused the greatest pain to those already most at risk, creating hardship and unease among low-income families and micro-businesses. Existing inequalities have been exposed and new ones created.
The crisis has once again brought the idea of Universal Basic Income (RBI) to the fore – periodic and unconditional cash payments to all citizens. The idea of a basic income has seen a popular boom in recent years. We have seen minor “pandemics” over the past hundred years, and a case for better preparedness does not need to be overstated.
The idea of UBI appears again and again in history – starting with Thomas Paine in the 18th century. This is a simple social policy of giving people small, regular, unconditional cash payments without them having to work for it. In short, it is government money that is distributed to everyone without asking any questions.
The broader objective of the UBI is to create a financial floor that no citizen can cross and to establish a decent standard of living for precarious and self-employed workers. UBI is not bound by the behavior of the recipients and they are free to spend the money as they see fit. On the other hand, conditional transfers in kind are subject to conditions.
One of the reasons for the uncertainty surrounding UBI is the lack of generally accepted understanding of the wider societal impact it could have. There are different ideas about its cost, how it could be funded, how the concept could be integrated into modern welfare states, and what impact it could have on the labor market.
How Does a Basic Income Affect People’s Behavior? Does it make them freer or more dependent? Does this leave them demotivated or lazy? There are several questions to which there are no clear answers.
The rationale for UBI varies from country to country: in a society of plenty, the question arises as to how people can make a living when robots and artificial intelligence are likely to take over . In low-income countries like India, another question arises: Can a basic income replace the existing social safety net and at the same time guarantee a basic salary that provides for subsistence?
Unconditional cash transfers are seen as one of the fairest, most cost-effective and powerful ways to reduce poverty and boost economic growth. The underlying idea is that traditional development assistance has failed and direct cash payments could solve the problem.
The advent of biometric identification, financial inclusion and mobile penetration has created the ability to send money directly to household accounts. The digital payment method breaks red tape and leaves no room for intermediaries.
Instead of relying on a large and expensive bureaucracy or ancillary industry, it is better to send money and resources directly to poor households so that they can find the most effective ways out of poverty. But it cannot revise the sometimes corrupt decision-making process that determines who is entitled to benefits in the first place.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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