Free Money May Be Handed Out in India Within Two Years, As Part of Universal Basic Income Experiment

Some states in India may implement a universal basic income—or “free money” as some like to call it—within the next couple of years.

Although talk of the idea has been circulating for awhile, Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, thinks it may become a reality by 2020.

“There has been a lot of discussion on universal basic income over the last year. The discussions are going on even at the present,” Subramanian said during a press conference, according to The Quint. “I can bet you that at least one or two states will implement it within the next two years.”

Related: Elon Musk Says Governments Will Have to Introduce 'Universal Basic Income' for Unemployed

Universal basic income would mean that all individuals, regardless of how much they’re earning, would receive an equal amount of money via direct cash transfer. And perhaps the best part is that there are no restrictions on what it can be spent on, CNBC reports. However, critics argue that because it can be spent on anything, it’s bound to be misused on things such as alcohol. An experiment in Kenya has proved otherwise.

2_4_universal basic income Carole Filaire, 37, unemployed and has been looking for a job for the past 18 months in the social work sector, living in Pantin in the Paris suburbs, poses with her voting card in front of the Centre Pompidou museum and cultural centre on March 20, 2017 in Paris. What should be the priorities of the next French president? 'He should tackle head on the issue of working hours to helps find the balance between private, professional and civic life. When I was not working for several months, I was able to get involved in different projects within associations and that added a lot to my professional and civic lives. A lot of people don't have any hobbies outside work and their schedules are so intense that they get ill. It's a public health issue. If each person could handle their time more effectively it would a good thing for society. But raising the question of working hours involves thinking about wages and therefore a universal basic income proposal.' Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Since October, residents of a rural village have received $22 a month, which they will continue to receive for the next 12 years. Although the experiment is still in its early stages, data has shown that most participants are putting the money to good use for things such as medicine and to repair their homes.

“People have needs,” Caroline Teti, who helped implement the project in Kenya with the charity GiveDirectly, told Business Insider. “Especially in poor communities such as this, if they get a basic income, it goes directly into those needs.”

Related: Quora Question: Does Universal Basic Income Work?

But, the experiment is still in its early stages so there’s a chance that how people choose to spend their money may change in the future. Finland also rolled out a universal basic income trial, which has been going on for more than a year. Their trial involves 2,000 unemployed people, ages 25 to 58, who receive nearly $700 every month. There are no plans to implement the program country-wide. Rather, it’s intended to observe how the income “affects employment of the unemployed people,” Markus Kanerva, an applied social and behavioral sciences specialist, who says the experiment is being misrepresented by the media, told The Guardian.

The exact details of India's universal basic income aren't yet specified, but regardless of how much participants receive, universal basic income will be much more manageable to administer than current anti-poverty schemes, according to The Times of India.  

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