Essential Editorials from The Hindu March 1
- The Economic Survey 2016-17 has proposed introducing a universal basic income in India
- A universal and unconditional income transfer to all citizens in order to address the twin problems of poverty and unemployment is undoubtedly a proposal that merits serious consideration.
The experiment in Europe
- The main features of universal basic income are that it is provided by the state to all citizens on an individual basis, without a means test and without a work requirement.
- An example of universal basic income is the Finnish proposal to provide unemployed citizens between the ages of 25 and 58 a monthly income of €560.
- In other words, universal basic income, as proposed and discussed in Europe, is a substitute for means-tested income benefits, with certain work requirements (such as undergoing job training).
- Existing guaranteed incomes schemes are usually targeted or means-tested, that is, dependent on level of income and only available to those below a threshold level of income.
- The most commonly discussed alternative to universal basic income is a negative income tax. This is a scheme in which, for individuals below a certain income threshold, not only is the income of a household not taxed, but the household receives a tax credit that is the difference between the basic income or guaranteed income and tax liability.
Distortions in Indian proposal
- Economic Survey is that its proposal constitutes an attack on welfare schemes.
- First Wrong The Economic Survey wants universal basic income not to supplement, but to replace, all existing anti-poverty and social welfare programmes.
- It is thus technically and ethically wrong to compare the costs and benefits of universal basic income with those from a range of subsidies relating to food and nutrition (public distribution, school meals, Integrated Child Development Services), education, and sanitation, as is done in the Economic Survey .
- The second wrong is thus the argument that the universal basic income should replace all current in-kind and cash transfers.
- The third wrong, and one that goes against the core philosophy of universal basic income, is the Economic Survey ’s assertion that “universal basic income is not framed as a transfer payment from the rich to the poor.”
No resource road map
- The Economic Survey , however, does not propose any new resource mobilisation or taxation to meet the goal of universal basic income. On the contrary, it talks of universal basic income replacing other schemes at various places.
- To sum up, the main features of universal basic income are that it should be universal and not targeted, it should be unconditional and not tied to work or employment, and it should be in cash.
- Resource mobilisation has to increase ten-fold for India to afford the universal basic income without cutting back on other social welfare programmes.
- India has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. Unless the government seriously increases tax resources, the proposal for a universal basic income is at best a diversion from our current economic and social problems and at worst a means of reducing and ending funding for a host of welfare programmes. The current proposal needs to be rejected in toto.
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Back on track? – OPINION – The Hindu
- India-China cooperation on Afghanistan could help bring bilateral ties out of the 2016 freeze. Recent discussions between Indian and Chinese officials on the way forward in Afghanistan are a welcome sign that both countries are attempting to put a very bad year in bilateral ties behind them, and seek common ground where possible.
- In Afghanistan, where both China and India see potential for investment and share concerns over the rise of radicalism and terrorism, there are many avenues for cooperation
What happened last year between India and China?
- On the issues that dominated the India-China narrative in 2016, particularly India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and to have Masood Azhar designated a global terrorist at the UN, there was little movement.
Progress so far
- Beijing initiated the special talks by inviting Indian officials who deal with Afghanistan and proposed a “joint development project” encourages the conclusion that China is unwilling to have its options cramped by Pakistan’s reservations about India’s role in Afghanistan.
- While China is no longer trotting out its old line on opposing India’s NSG membership as a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India has stopped referring to China as the “one country” that is thwarting its ambitions.
- New Delhi must prepare for the larger challenge this year that will inevitably come from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI, or One Belt, One Road). Through the mega infrastructure and trade project, China has plans in place to reach out to each one of India’s land and maritime neighbours, most of whom have signed up for it.
- India has decided to not join the B&RI and will not attend even as an observer as the $51-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, now an integral part of the B&RI initiative, runs through areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
- This concerns India’s territorial integrity, and New Delhi needs to find ways to make China more sensitive to its concerns.
And Please Go through the Interview of RM Lodha