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National Pocket Money

Sounds insane, right? The answer is sheer objective. Neither we aren't the ones who need it, nor we ought to understand it. For a long time, the status-quo of our lives have been revolving around some trivial aspects of the economy. Exchange rate against dollars, luring GDP numbers and annual budget announcements. That's all we generally think when it comes to the economy. Reason being our lassitude & indifference towards economic affairs. But believe it or not, there are two sole entities that control this world. POLITICIANS & ECONOMISTS.

ADIRAAG has been raising the bars on the former, and right now, with your eyes skimming in the direction of the text, it unveils one of the most peculiar economic theories in an attempt to alleviate poverty. UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME.

A state-sponsored scheme where the government would provide us with a fixed monthly income, irrespective of our employment status. And here we go.....!!

The idea is currently under execution on an experimental basis. The place, Finland. Some 2000 people are being selected at random. And the lucky ones would be given a monthly income of  $600, that too for a 2-year period. Subsequently, the consequences would be analysed and the future prospects would be either expanded or shrinked.

The most exciting thing about this idea is its first implementation, which wasn't actually Finland. But a successful trial has been done in the US in 1960s, by the then president  Richard Nixon. Half a century has passed, and today we see a plethora of social wefare schemes, inorder to combat the poverty menace. To name a few, MGNREGA, National Pension Scheme, Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojana, & several other AADHAR-based public distribution schemes.

How effective are such schemes? Do they really benefit the true beneficiaries? If yes, then to what extent?

 In the hunt of the answers, one gets startled by the contrasting difference in the government claims and the statistics. On one side, our part-time politicians become full-time rabble rousers, with mammoth claims about the success of such schemes, while on the other unfortunate side, the statistics speak volume about the increasing load on the GDP, with increasing inefficiency.

The government spends a lot of time & resources to conduct surveys, just to identify the true beneficiaries, people who actually are, poor. And then, we all know many Sharmas, Malhotras, Kapoors, Singhs, etc who enjoy lavishing lifestyles, along with gas subsidy of AADHAR..!!

Undoubtedly, our goverment has some great intentions. But, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. 

Lets do some maths & establish a simple comparison between the existing social schemes, and the proposed UBI.

The existing middle-class subsidies, including food, petroleum & fertiliser subsidies, together cost about 3 percent of the GDP. Plus a long time for conducting surveys, that too ending in identifying a remarkable proportion of the wrong people at the receiving end. While, as per the Economic Survey(2016-17), UBI that reduces the poverty to 0.5 percent, would cost about 4.5 percent of the GDP. With no extra-curricular, undesired loggerheads. Only a direct cash transfer to the poors, barring the top 25% of the income bracket.

Also, the idea of a free income promotes the lower sections to have their own expenditure plan. When the onus is on the people, they would better decide where to spend & where not to. Not always a farmer craves for seeds, he might be worried about his children's primary education. And the state cannot always be relied upon to acknowledge this very fact.

Before its implementation, UBI has also attracted some genuine criticism. What about the low-profile, unskilled jobs? Who would clean the toilets, if one really has an option not to do so? Just because he/she would be getting a free sum of money. Several other implementation challenges do exist, which do pose a big challenge to the very essence of the UBI.

Keeping aside the analysis, what really matters is our take, our perceptions & our opinions. Instead of engaging ourselves in various day-to-day hearsay, arguing on illogical affairs, coupled with verbal assaults, we really need to debate & discuss on such relevant issues. We might ignore these stuff, but we cannot stand untouched by them. As children, we were crazy about getting the pocket money. So why ignore the same feeling, which might get national..!

In the exact words of the Economic Survey of India (2016-17),

"UBI is a powerful idea whose time even if not ripe for implementation, is ripe for serious discussion".


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