Saluting the un-measureable contribution of women to the society, apex industry body ASSOCHAM today picked up the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI), only for women, from a key government document, stating implementation of such a scheme can bring in significant transformation in India’s socio-economic landscape.
“While India may not be ready for an all – encompassing UBI ,given the country’s scale of development where the difference between the rich and poor remains quite wide and it may not be an equitable thing to extend similar benefits across all strata of the economic paradigm, the women-only UBI can be considered favourably,” ASSOCHAM said extending its good wishes on the International Women’s Day (IWD).
“If women in the households have money in their accounts, their economic and social status would see a tremendous uplift. In the long run, this would also bring in corrections in the adverse sex ratio as the society would see women as an empowered lot,” the chamber said in a statement.
It added that a sub-idea for UBI for Women was enunciated in the Economic Survey of 2016-17 along with broader UBI. The key document, authored by the Chief Economic Adviser, rightly argued when it had said, “Women face worse prospects in almost every aspect of their daily lives – employment opportunities, education, health or financial inclusion. Giving money to women also improves the bargaining power for women within households and reduces concerns of money being splurged on conspicuous goods.”
Under the UBI, some fixed amount is transferred to the accounts of the beneficiaries irrespective of their economic or social status. It is premised on the principle that an equitable society should guarantee a minimum income to each individual for access to basic needs.
Chairperson of the ASSOCHAM Women Foundation, Ms Revati Jain said, “As it is, the public spending on health and education in India are among the lower categories in the world. The worst sufferers are the women if enough resources are not spent on health and education. The issues of child mortality, infant mortality and even nutrition during pregnancy can be addressed if UBI is extended to women.”
“It could be argued that women from the rich and upper middle income groups do not deserve to be provided government support. But the problem of identifying the correct beneficiaries is far greater than the cost of an all – inclusive scheme,” said Ms Jain.
“Maybe, the government can leave it up to the beneficiaries not to avail of the scheme, if they chose to. Say, for instance, if well placed women among the rich and upper middle class do not want UBI, they can voluntary give it up and they will give up,” added the AWF chairperson.
“While most of the welfare schemes can be clubbed into the UBI, certain basic schemes focused on pregnancy benefits can continue along with UBI. The industry, can also be, on a voluntary basis, encouraged to extend its helping hand to the women welfare schemes,” she said further.