“With the rise of global inequality, we want to ensure that we bridge the gap.”
The small Indian state of Sikkim is about to launch a basic income experiment that will provide cash payments to each of its 610,000 citizens — a pilot that the Washington Post says is the largest basic income experiment in history.
“In developed countries, the main purpose is to restructure or economize the existing welfare schemes, like unemployment benefits,” University of California at Berkeley economist Pranab Bardhan told the Post of the experiment. “In low- or mid-income countries, like India, the rationale will be to address the minimum economic insecurity of a larger section of the population, not just the poorest, without touching the existing anti-poverty measures.”
Tech luminaries including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have endorsed the idea of basic income, the Post points out, as an idea to transform the economy as more labor becomes automated.
But actual experiments have been rare and limited in scope — making it ironic that the largest to date is scheduled to kick off in India, a far less affluent country than the United States.
It’s important to note that details about Sikkim’s upcoming experiment remain hazy. It’s not clear how much each resident will be paid, and the launch date of 2022 is still years away. But Indian politicians are hopeful.
“It’s a matter of political will ultimately,” said P.D. Rai, a Sikkim’s member of parliament. “With the rise of global inequality, we want to ensure that we bridge the gap.”
READ MORE: Tiny Indian state proposes world’s biggest experiment with guaranteed income [The Washington Post]