A Universal Basic Income for India? – Podcast with Arvind Subramanian

April 20, 2017

Could a universal basic income (UBI) fundamentally change the picture of poverty, health, and well-being in a country? How would it work? What effects would it have?

Those are some of the questions raised by the Indian Ministry of Finance’s 2017 Economic Survey, which considers—but does not commit to—the idea of a large-scale experiment in UBI.

The Survey’s lead author is Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the government of India and a CGD senior fellow on leave. Subramanian spoke at a recent CGD event on the big ideas currently shaping India’s economy, and he joined me on the podcast to continue the discussion.

One of the big benefits of a UBI, he tells me on the podcast, is that it provides people with a “minimum wherewithal” they can use to access credit, invest, or respond to emergencies. The main challenge, on the other hand, is that the money obviously has to come from somewhere: “you can’t pay for it unless you get rid of something else.”

Hear more of the pros and cons below, and listen to the full podcast at the top of this page or on iTunes.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.