The leader of India’s main opposition party, Rahul Gandhi, said on Monday his party will provide the poor with a minimum income if it is voted into power in a general election expected in the next few months.
Gandhi’s campaign promise is a step towards a universal basic income that some economists have supported instead of subsidies for the poor.
“We have decided that every poor person in India would be guaranteed a minimum income after the Congress forms the government in 2019,” Gandhi told a rally in Chhattisgarh.
“No one will go hungry in India, no one will remain poor,” Gandhi said.
“We will do this in every state of India.”
It is not clear, however, whether the state government’s of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, where Congress recently won the legislative assembly elections, will implement such a scheme before the elections.
The number of poor households in India was estimated at nearly 70 million out of total 240 million, according to the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011.
If every household got 20,000 rupees ($280) a year, that would cost 1.4 trillion rupees ($19.69 billion), less than the total bill for food subsidies.
However, a scheme of such large proportion and ambitions is obviously doomed to fail if there is no oversight over the implementation of scheme.
The methodology of implementation of these schemes are never revealed, neither by Congress nor the BJP, leading to huge losses to the country. It is necessary a study be conducted beforehand and an oversight committee be formed to make sure the money reaches the needy.