India's quest for basic income


Welcome to our expert series on the post-COVID reset. That is, a reset along a more inclusive and smart path. The series introduces listeners to leading thinkers as they debate concrete policy options for such a recovery and take stock of the data that could (and should) inform these policy shifts. 
This is a three-part podcast on India’s quest for universal basic income (UBI). It covers the pilots that have been run so far and, importantly, asks what they tell about the potential of such schemes in India and perhaps in other developing countries.
The expert is Sarath Davala, Chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), and co-founder for India Network for Basic Income. He served as the research director for the Madhya Pradesh basic income pilot. 
The host is UNESCO’s Iulia Sevciuc.



PART 1: Trials


This part is concerned with concrete UBI pilots coming from India. It goes deep into the Madhya Pradesh experiment, covering:

  • Design. What were the key features and how were the evaluations run?
  • Results. What outcomes were assessed and why do some (indebtedness, diversification of livelihoods, gender) deserve a closer look?
  • Policy space. How was the pilot designed to interact with the existing social protection system and why was this the way to go?


PART 1: Trials 








PART 2: Scale-up


This part goes beyond individual pilots to bigger, underlying questions on the future of UBI. It discusses:

  • Scale-up. What is the potential in India and how is a critical mass of trials being run sub-nationally, testing the models and pushing the debate upwards?
  • Lessons. What are the lessons on UBI India offers to the world and, particularly, to developing countries?
  • Crisis. How has COVID-19 made UBI an emergency tool, and what does this say about its use in humanitarian, development, and crisis contexts?


PART 2: Scale-up








PART 3: Knowledge and policy  


The final part talks to knowledge producers and policy-makers about:

  • Knowledge gaps. What is missing in data on UBI and, importantly, on its place in the post-COVID reset?
  • Policy. What key messages need amplification in the policy debates?


PART 3: Knowledge and policy








Have you seen?

California trials basic income, other 14 pilots are in sight

Basic Income – think data then policy

Move the debate from Universal Basic Income to Universal Basic Services

Greening the Basic Income



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Iulia Sevciuc is UNESCO’s lead on inclusive policies and the data-driven policy change. Prior to this, she worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia and Moldova. 


Sarath Davala is Chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), and co-founder for India Network for Basic Income. He served as the research director for the Madhya Pradesh basic income pilot.


The facts, ideas and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO or any of its partners and stakeholders and do not commit nor imply any responsibility thereof. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this piece do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.