The northeastern state of Sikkim could become the first to implement a universal basic income (UBI) to all its residents.
State Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling who is seeking reelection in the upcoming assembly polls has made it one of his election promises.
The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) has proposed a UBI for all its residents by 2022 if voted back to power.
The state goes to polls simultaneously with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Chamling, the longest serving chief minister in India who has been in office since 1994 is seeking re-election.
“UBI is a scheme that a number of economists have talked about and it works well in developing countries. It has been tested even in India, debated within the Finance Ministry as early as 2017,” Prem Das Rai, SDF MP in the Lok Sabha told The Indian Express.
He also pointed out that the idea of a UBI has been tested in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and tribal belts with fairly large samples and it can be implemented in a state like Sikkim.
UBI has been around globally for some time and had its fair share of controversies. UBI in simple terms means that every citizen gets a certain amount of cash from the government each month. Or simply put, government equally sharing its wealth with the public.
The International Monetary Fund defines universal basic income as “a cash transfer of an equal amount to all individuals in a country.”
While it sounds the best thing possible to happen — to get money doing nothing, those opposed to it say the UBI model is not sustainable and make people lazy and dependent on handouts from the government.
One of the first countries to experiment UBI was Finland, in 2017 where 2,000 unemployed people were paid 560 euros each month for two years. However, the country later decided not to continue its pilot programme beyond 2018.
Similar experiments have been undertaken in countries like the Netherlands, Kenya, Canada, and the United States.