Congress’ Minimum Income Scheme Is No Jumla: Praveen Chakravarty

In Politics, The Quint by Praveen ChakravartyLeave a Comment

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, on 28 January, announced the party’s plans to implement a minimum income guarantee scheme for the poor, if voted to power. Gandhi’s announcement at a rally in Chhattisgarh has been tipped as a game-changer ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. It has also triggered a discussion on what this Minimum Income Guarantee is, and how similar it is to the concept of a Universal Basic Income.

What is UBI?
To understand Rahul Gandhi’s announcement and the idea of UBI, The Quint spoke to Praveen Chakravarty, chairperson of the Congress’ Data Analytics department. According to Chakravarty, the basic idea of this scheme is that every Indian household should have a basic income. This means those families which are below a minimum income should get income support from the government. He explains with an example.
“Say, we decide that the basic minimum income should be Rs 1 lakh per year for every family. Let’s assume that five to 10 crore families do not even have Rs 1 lakh per year as income. Then, this minimum income guarantee will be for these five crore houses and families. So, the minimum income guarantee scheme is to ensure that every Indian family can earn at least a certain basic amount. If they don’t, there will be a support that will be provided by this scheme.”
Praveen Chakravarty, Chairperson, Data Analytics department, Congress

Is It a Mere Poll Gimmick?
Since Rahul Gandhi announced this before the Lok Sabha elections, it obviously raises the question whether this is a mere gimmick before the polls. Chakravarty disagrees, saying that UBI is not an election-related scheme in India.
“This is not a jumla. I can tell you that this is an idea. The idea called a Universal Basic Income has been widely debated and discussed across the world over the last few years. Almost all economists, regardless of where their ideology is, agree on the need for a basic minimum income and it is called a Universal Basic Income. This is not an election-related scheme in India. It is an idea that has been debated and discussed. In fact, the Modi government’s own Chief Economic Advisor, Dr Arvind Subramaniam, in his 2017 Economic Survey Report said that the Universal Basic Income scheme must be introduced in India too. Instead, we got demonetisation. So, this is an idea that has been well-discussed, well thought-through. The Congress party is now promising every Indian family that there will be a minimum income guarantee and a support scheme.
Praveen Chakravarty, Chairperson, Data Analytics department, Congress

Congress’ Attempt to Snatch the Agenda From BJP?
“They (BJP) had five years. They (BJP) still had two years after that. If they had to introduce this scheme, why didn’t they in all these years? So, it is not a question of snatching an idea. It is also a recognition of the fact that right now the economy, especially for the poor in India, is in a very, very bad shape. There are no jobs, no income. Farmers don’t get the right prices for their produce. There is a severe rural agricultural distress.”
Praveen Chakravarty, Chairman, Data Analytics department, Congress

This article was originally published on The Quint Hindi and has been translated.
Published on 05 February, 2019 in The Quint