Subramanian Arvind India Chief Economic Advisor (PDF)

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Title: Subramanian_Arvind_India Chief Economic Advisor
Author: Joe Huston

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To whom it may concern
I am writing to express support for the impact evaluation of a basic income guarantee scheme being
conducted by Abhijit Banerjee, Michael Faye, Alan Krueger, Paul Niehaus, and Tavneet Suri, in
collaboration with the NGO GiveDirectly in East Africa. Results from a study like this would be
unique and of immediate interest to my office and others in this administration.
As we described here, the current Government of India has made the introduction of Direct Benefit
Transfers using the "JAM" platform (bank accounts, biometric authentication, and mobile) a top
priority, and has introduced a series of initiatives to streamline existing subsidy payments using this
approach. Looking ahead, the JAM platform also creates an opportunity to consider even more
fundamental reforms such as replacing in-kind transfers and subsidies with cash transfers, such as a
universal basic income. There has been active discussion of this idea in India, and at least one smallscale pilot, but no large experiment nor rigorous evaluation. To my knowledge, the GiveDirectly
project would be the first to fill that gap.
I would strongly urge that this effort be supported. Opportunities to conduct high-quality
experimental research at this scale and on topics this fundamental are rare and of great value for
evidence-based policy making across the world, including India.

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