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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
A symposium on Piketty: Introduction
Posted on: 15 Jun 2015
Thomas Piketty’s book on ´Capital in the Twenty First Century’ has made waves. The f ... read on »
Emerging challenges: Economic and social
Posted on: 06 Aug 2014
To mark the second anniversary of I4I in July 2014, we invited two eminent scholars – Abhi ... read on »

Tag: cash transfers

The tale and maths of universal basic income
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 15 Feb 2017

Commenting on the discussion on universal basic income in the recently released Economic Survey, Jean Drèze argues that UBI is an idea whose time will come, but that time is still quite distant as far as India is concerned.

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Decoding universal basic income for India
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 20 Jan 2017

In this article, Jean Drèze argues that while universal basic income is a good idea in principle, as far as India today is concerned, it sounds like premature articulation. It could also become a Trojan horse for the dismantling of hard-won entitlements of the underprivileged.

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A universal basic income to step up economic reform
Nimai Mehta
Posted on: 28 Oct 2016

In this article, Nimai Mehta, Academic Director of the Global Economics and Business Program at the American University, highlights the political challenge of introducing the wider set of reforms needed if a universal basic income (UBI) is to lift the poor out of poverty, and of ensuring fiscal affordability of UBI. Further, he shares some initial ideas on how these objectives may be achieved by leveraging the evolving Centre-state relations.

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Universal basic income for India
Vijay Joshi
Posted on: 21 Oct 2016

In this article, Vijay Joshi, Emeritus Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford, sets out his proposal for a universal basic income (UBI) in India. He contends that ´deep fiscal adjustment´, in combination with UBI, would make a huge positive difference to the lives of people, present and future, and provide an essential underpinning for the acceptability of radical economic reform.

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Minimum standard of living for all Indians
T. N. Srinivasan
Posted on: 30 Sep 2016

In this article, T.N. Srinivasan, Samuel C. Park, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Economics, Yale University, contends that the idea of an assured minimum income for all citizens of India was being discussed as early as the 1960s, but could not be implemented then on account of certain circumstances.

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The universal basic share and social incentives
Karl Ove Moene , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 30 Sep 2016

In the previous article in the series, Debraj Ray proposes a simple amendment of the universal basic income called the universal basic share. In this article, Debraj Ray and Karl Ove Moene (University of Oslo), discuss how the universal basic share combines social considerations of fairness with incentives for the collective good.

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The universal basic share
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 29 Sep 2016

Debraj Ray, Professor of Economics at NYU, proposes a simple amendment of the universal basic income – what he calls the ‘universal basic share’. The idea is to commit a fixed fraction of the gross domestic product to the provision of a basic income for all.

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Is India ready for a universal basic income scheme?
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 28 Sep 2016

Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, contends that potential resources do exist to fund a universal basic income scheme, via subsidy cuts and/or raising more tax revenue - but the real issue is whether there will be political support to do so.

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Universal basic income: The best way to welfare
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 27 Sep 2016

Abhijit Banerjee, Professor of Economics at MIT, suggests replacing welfare schemes of the government by a single universal basic income, which entitles every adult resident to a minimum weekly income as long as they verify their identity every week.

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Basic income in a poor country
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016

Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley argues that even though universal basic income is being considered unaffordable in some developed countries, it may well be feasible and desirable in a poor to medium-income country partly on account of low poverty thresholds and existing social safety nets that are threadbare and costly to administer.

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Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016

The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught on in the developed world. Does it make sense for India? To examine the issue, I4I Editor Parikshit Ghosh is hosting an e-Symposium on the idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context. Over the next week, economists Pranab Bardhan (University of California, Berkeley), Abhijit Banerjee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Maitreesh Ghatak (London School of Economics), Debraj Ray (New York University), Kalle Moene (University of Oslo), T.N. Srinivasan (Yale University), Vijay Joshi (University of Oxford), Nimai Mehta (American University) and Jean Drèze (Ranchi University; Delhi School of Economics) will contribute to the e-Symposium.

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Improving maternal and child health through conditional cash transfers
Sisir Debnath
Posted on: 21 Mar 2016
Topics:   Gender , Health


Cash transfers to the poor, conditional on use of particular public services, are a popular tool to increase healthcare utilisation. This column evaluates the impact of one such scheme – Janani Suraksha Yojana - and finds that it encouraged pregnant women to deliver babies at healthcare facilities. It also suggests that the marginal effect of cash incentives is larger when provided to healthcare workers rather than mothers.
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A conversation on development – II
Kaushik Basu , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 03 Feb 2016

Parikshit Ghosh (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics) speaks with Kaushik Basu (Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on issues ranging from the use of economic knowledge in policy decisions, role of values in public service delivery, to the need for pluralism and tolerance for economic growth, and the importance of communicating good ideas effectively to policymakers and the general public.

This part of the interview focuses on India-specific issues. This is the fourth in the series of I4I Conversations.

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JAM and the pursuit of nirvana
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 13 Nov 2015

The Finance Ministry is proposing to roll all subsidies into a single, lump-sum cash transfer to households, on the back of the JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, Mobile numbers) trinity. In this article, Jean Drèze, Honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, argues that a single-minded focus on high-tech cash transfers as a foundation for social policy in India is fraught with dangers.
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An economist’s view on the new government’s initiatives
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 19 Dec 2014
Topics:   Finance


In this article, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, provides his perspective on some of the initiatives of the new Indian government at the centre in their first six months in office – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan Dhan Yojana, ‘Make in India’ campaign, and the proposed changes to MNREGA. In his view, inefficient subsidies must give way to a basic monthly income for all citizens.
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How effective is Janani Suraksha Yojana?
Shareen Joshi , Anusuya Sivaram
Posted on: 18 Dec 2014
Topics:   Health


Janani Suraksha Yojana - India’s safe motherhood programme – provides poor women with a financial incentive for delivering births at health centres and seeking antenatal and postnatal care. This column finds that the programme has had limited success. While women with no formal education and those from rural areas have benefitted disproportionately, the programme has failed to reach the poorest women.
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Bali conundrum: WTO and Indian agriculture
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 15 Jan 2014

The outcome of the recent WTO meetings at Bali is a stopgap arrangement, which implies that the Indian government does not have to make any changes in the implementation of the new Food Security Act in the near future. In this article, the authors suggest disentangling consumer support and producer support via cash transfers so that India can build a safety net for its poor without violating WTO agreements.
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Some thoughts on paternalism in poverty programmes
Jishnu Das
Posted on: 23 Dec 2013

“…it is pretty ironic the number of conversations I have had with development people about the poor and their drinking - over drinks.” – Paul Niehaus.
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Some reflections on the National Food Security Act
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 10 Dec 2013

The Food Security Bill became an Act with little parliamentary opposition. Yet the public debate has lingered. Would subsidised food grains reduce malnutrition? Won’t it be better to invest in health and education instead? Can we afford the cost of subsidising food for such a large chunk of the population? Should we continue to waste money on the flawed PDS system? How will the grain markets be affected? This column offers a perspective on these important questions.
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Food Bill: Neither populist nor unaffordable
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 19 Jun 2013

Criticism of the National Food Security Bill has led to the government dropping the idea of issuing an Ordinance and instead, saying it would try to get the Bill passed in a special session of Parliament. This article addresses some of the key questions raised by critics of the Bill.
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Cash Transfers – through the postal system or the banks?
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 20 Dec 2012

The central government has announced the conversion of 29 poverty schemes to Direct Cash Transfers. Should this be implemented through banks or the postal system? This article assesses the pros and cons, and recommends experimenting with different systems.
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Child malnutrition in India and what can be done about it
Pushkar Maitra , Anu Rammohan
Posted on: 15 Oct 2012

While many things are getting better in India, the disturbing levels of child malnutrition are hardly changing. This column explores why and asks what can be done. It calls for more conditional cash transfers to poor rural families and better education on how to feed their children.
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How to keep more girls in school? Lessons from Bangladesh
Mushfiq Mobarak
Posted on: 24 Sep 2012
Topics:   Education , Gender


For years developing countries have been trying to increase parents’ incentives to send their children, particularly girls, to school and keep them there. This column looks at the success of Bangladesh, where the number of girls in school now exceeds the number of boys. It argues that money talks – but it’s the money that educated children will earn once they leave school that talks loudest.
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