COVID-19: Why India Needs Universal Basic Income Right Now

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

As I woke up today, I realized how fortunate I am. I have a job, and I can work comfortably sitting at my home. I have food stocked in my home, and as far as savings are concerned, I know that I do not have to worry about anything for the next 2o days lockdown. Above all, I feel safe. When I look at my social media feed, I see people praying for the doctors and health workers. As a good citizen, I, too, stood on my terrace and cheered for those doctors and health workers, who are busy saving lives. But is that all that will make me a good citizen of this nation?

Image only for representational purposes only. Via Flickr

Right now in India, many are having sleepless nights. Remember the man or woman you met at the Labour Chowk of your town? They are daily wage laborers. They earn only if they work. There are no paid leaves for them. And if they fail to earn any money, then they have to struggle relentlessly so that their family does not starve. Yes, they exist. They exist in every village, town and city. They do not have savings in any bank.

How can I be a good citizen? At this hour, my government continues to issue unclear advice. My government thinks that a nation-wide lockdown is the best option, but it forgot to provide a safety net to the ones who are economically marginalized and are now deprived of their wages, just because they are forced to live in their houses. This vulnerable population exists, and right now, they are struggling to provide basic necessities like food for their family. They are terrified.

The need of this hour is to make sure that the nation stands with them. Universal Basic Income has been one of the latest developments across the globe. We heard the head of states such as Boris Johnson, who said that he would consider the implementation of Universal Basic Income in the United Kingdom during this coronavirus pandemic.

We, the people of India, should make sure that our government introduces an immediate liveable income guarantee for every economically marginalized, vulnerable citizen living in India—without conditions on job seeking, migration status, savings, partner income or any other limiting factors. This must guarantee every adult in this country an income equivalent to the minimum wage as prescribed by the law.

It’s grossly unjust that the most vulnerable in our society are hit hardest by this pandemic. To save lives now, we will be obliged if you can participate in this campaign and sign this petition seeking the Government of India to approve Universal Basic Income for the economically marginalized population during this COVID-19 pandemic.

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Here’s How We Can Fight Against Covid-19: A Precautionary Guide

Sign this petition to demand expanding of screening beyond government hospitals, to pre-empt the disease from becoming an epidemic.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is our duty to keep ourselves informed, take care of our own health, and wash our hands! Some simple measures that we must follow include social distancing, covering our mouth when coughing and sneezing, washing one's hands regularly, and avoid crowded places, and self-quarantine! The helpline provided by the government is +91-11-23978046. Here are some resources that the WHO and the Health Ministry have created. Remember, prevention, and not panic, will see us through this!
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