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4) The concept universal basic income is now firmly etched in India’s political discourse.  Critically analyse.(250 words)

Topic :  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

4) The concept universal basic income is now firmly etched in India’s political discourse.  Critically analyse.(250 words)


Why this question:

The opposition party has recently mooted its political agenda of universal basic income for BPL Indian citizens. In this context it is important to discuss the pros and cons of the UBI especially in the context of Indian economy.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss at length pros and cons associate with delivering basic income to the poor of the country

Directive word:

Critically Analyse – When asked to ‘analyse’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:


Narrate a brief background of the context of the question – declaration of minimum income guarantee for every poor person in the country by the Congress president.


In brief discuss –

  • How the mega welfare scheme would be an extension of the slew of pro-poor entitlement regimes of political parties in the past.
  • Discuss – The concept of UBI or universal basic income floated by former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian was part of the 2016-17 Economic Survey.
  • Have a discussion on poverty line.
  • Discuss the pros and advantages of UBI. E.g A Universal Basic Income promotes many of the basic values of a society which respects all individuals as free and equal. It promotes liberty because it is anti-paternalistic, opens up the possibility of flexibility in labour markets. It promotes equality by reducing poverty. It promotes efficiency by reducing waste in government transfers. And it could, under some circumstances, even promote greater productivity etc.
  • Discuss the cons/ limitations of the UBI. E.g None of the places where UBI has been tried have levels of income disparity that exist in India. So, while the idea might work in Sikkim, it might not in, say, Bihar; The reason for maintaining conditional social assistance is to “prioritize those at the bottom of the [income] distribution; access to banking is poor in rural and backward areas; issue of gender equality as the income would be controlled by the males of the family; amount of financial resources required etc.


Conclude with way forward.