The spread of COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacy of measures nations claimed they had, to deal with a crisis. A microorganism succeeded in locking down nations, disrupting markets, and exposing loopholes in the existing policies and welfare systems. As India wades through the stormy seas of averting a health crisis, millions are left bereft of livelihoods and safety nets. The plight of migrant workers has brought to light the true state of our social infrastructure as they were denied basic services to even get back home.
Thomas More in his 16th century book titled Utopia wrote ‘…provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming, first a thief, and then a corpse’. Since then, several humanist thinkers, politicians, billionaires and social activists have lent their support to Universal Basic Income (UBI). The Economic Survey of 2016-17 had designated UBI as a powerful idea to be deliberated upon but not yet ripe for implementation. As the Coronavirus pandemic lingers and experts are left in a dilemma in predicting a definite last date to the war against the virus, there can be no better opportunity than now to analyze the idea of UBI and evolve an appropriate mechanism. (more…)