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The old idea of recasting the welfare state by instituting an unconditional universal basic income has lately been capturing imaginations across the political spectrum.In fact, a basic income may very well be fiscally feasible – not to mention socially desirable – in places where the poverty threshold is low and existing social safety nets are both threadbare and expensive to administer.An unconditional basic income could eliminate much of this mess.If each of India's 1.25 billion citizens received an annual basic income of 10,000 rupees ($149) – about three-quarters of the official poverty line – the total payout would come to about 10 percent of GDP.By discontinuing some or all of these subsidies – which, of course, do not include expenditures in areas like health, education, nutrition, rural and urban development programs, and environmental protection – the government could secure the funds to offer everyone, rich and poor, a reasonable basic income.After all, the basic income would still be severely limited, and there is no way to ensure that individuals would allocate enough of it to achieve socially desirable education, health or nutrition levels.
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