Is Universal Basic Income feasible in Sikkim?

For the first time minimum income system was introduced in the 16th century and second time in 18th century but in couple of the century system couldn’t success. Again in the middle of the 19th century these two were combined which gave the new concept of an Unconditional Basic Income. Very general definition of Universal basic income (UBI) is a model for providing each and every citizen of a country or one specific area with certain amount of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. As per Economic Survey 2016-17, MOF, Govt. of India “Just society needs to guarantee to each individual a minimum income which provides the necessary material foundation for a life with access to basic goods and a life of dignity”.

Universal Basic Income
Universal Basic Income

Basic Features of UBI:

  • Universal Basic Income is a periodic, unconditional cash transfer to every citizen.
  • Socio-economic status of individual is not taken into consideration.
  • UBI is universal in nature. It means UBI is not targeted.
  • UBI is cash transfer instead of in-kind transfer.
  • UBI is unconditional. That means one need not prove his or her unemployment status or socio-economic identity to be eligible for UBI.

At the moment many countries have been trying to implement it even in India pilot project is being on. And no doubt on if any state in our country implements it, becomes first and that is what Government of Sikkim is trying to do so. Of course it has some of the advantages but it has huge disadvantages as well like; funding problem UBI requires huge budget which is infeasible because Sikkim cannot survive without central aid, makes heights of rich and poor disparities, it replaces anti-poverty programs, it reduces the incentive to work, exposure to market risks (Economic Survey, 2016-17), UBI leads to laziness and dependence (BIG Coalition Namibia. Retrieved 24 July 2013), UBI increases use of alcohol or illicit drugs (Brancaglione & Pereira 2012) etc. Perhaps due to these reasons even in world most developed country like Switzerland rejected UBI (The Hindu, 16.01.19). So it would be good for all of us as well as State if Government of Sikkim conducts series of debates on ‘whether UBI is suitable for Sikkim or not’ before finalized to implement it.

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