Last Mile Connectivity is Possible!

Sarath Davala
Sarath Davala

Sarath Davala is the Vice Chair of the Basic Income Earth Network and Coordinator for the India Network for Basic Income.

In the city I live -Hyderabad – roughly 20% of the population comprises of migrant workers from other states. That is about 2 million people. With Covid lockdown this is one section of the population that has become most vulnerable. The local government promised to give them 12 kilos of rice and Rs. 500 (USD 6.5) as a one time grant. Now begins the exercise of identifying the so-called ‘beneficiaries’. Those who have the right documents will get and those who don’t will not.

We have been advocating self-selection as a method of identification. In addition to providing dry rations, they should also be given an Emergency Basic Income. They neither have proper documents not do they have bank accounts. These are the obstacles.

We have found two ways in which we can overcome these obstacles.

1. For food grains and other rations we as a network of Civil Society Organsiations have evolved a system of delivery. We accept distress calls on the helpline based on self-selection.We ask them to provide us a contact of their local grocery store. The money is paid to the shop owner through Google Pay. We pay 500 per adult and 250 per child.So, a family of three adults and three children will get Rs. 2250 (USD 30) worth of groceries.

2. Moving a step further, INBI has experimented with transferring an Emergency Basic Income through an innovative method. And suceeded!!! We partnered with the Indian Postal service, and initiated a test case. We identified 27 migrant migrant workers from Odisha. Prepared a list of names and their mobile numbers. We deposited Rs. 500 per adult and 250 per child. Postal department considered it Telegraphic Money Order and delivered cash the very next day to each individual. The children’s money was given to the mother. Only the main contact person had to show his identity card. The postal department charged us a small sum as transaction cost.

We are extremely happy about this breakthrough, and now we want to reach out to more people.

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