Context: In its report on human rights in India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the centre was considering implementing the concept of Universal Basic Income in India. 

How Universal Basic Income works?

  • A basic income is a regular, periodic cash payment delivered unconditionally to all citizens on an individual basis, without requirement of work or willingness to work. 
  • The five broad features of such schemes are: payments at periodic regular intervals (not one-off grants), payments in cash (not food vouchers or service coupons), payments to individuals, universality, and unconditionality.


More about the news:

  • As a part of the third round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, which is done every four-and-a-half-years, the NHRC submitted its mid-term report to the UN agency recently. 
  • The report reviewed the implementation of 152 recommendations of the UPR Working Group that the Indian government had accepted in September 2017.
  • One of the recommendations was: “Continue studying the possibility of a universal basic income as a way to further reduce poverty levels with a view to possibly phasing out the existing social protection system, in full consultation with all stakeholders.”

About Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 

  • It is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. 
  • The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

Key issues highlighted by NHRC: 

  • Ratification of international human rights instruments, 
  • Issues in legislations of trafficking and protection against child sexual abuse 
  • Gaps in the implementation of schemes for food security and timely disbursement of wages under schemes for employment
  • Push for increasing budgetary allocation for health and nutrition by the Centre and state governments.
  • Women & Child rights: The NHRC noted that it had found “gaps in policies as compared to obligations” under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and had made recommendations to address the same. 
    • It is in the process of setting up a committee to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
  • Reproductive rights: The Centre had requested the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of Financial Services, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the National Health Authority to consider the issue of sterilization, birth control treatment and procedures expenses not being covered under health insurance policies currently.
  • Disabled persons’ rights: To make education more accessible to children with disabilities, the NHRC had recommended to the Human Resource Development Ministry in January 2020 to ensure “holistic inclusion” of such children in its Draft National Education Policy.
  • SC/STs: The NHRC said it had expressed “concern over the inefficiencies in implementation of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989 and the Rules of 1995” and warned states of coercive action when they failed to submit reports on human rights violations of SCs, STs and minorities.

About NHRC

  • About the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
    • It is an independent statutory body established on 12 October, 1993 as per provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, later amended in 2006.
    • It is established in conformity with the Paris Principles endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134.
    • Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
    • State commissions: The NHRC is also the nodal body for the state human rights commissions and has the powers to refer some of its cases to the state bodies
  • What functions have been assigned to the Commission under the Act ?
    • The NHRC plays four key rolesprotector, advisor, monitor and educator of human rights.
    • Initiating suo motu inquiries: The Commission can receive complaints or investigate on its own about the “violation of human rights or abetment thereof or negligence in the prevention of human rights violations by public servants”.  
    • The commission's guidelines in 1997 mandates every custodial death and encounter killing be reported to it within 24 hours.
    • The NHRC has the authority to make interventions in court proceedings relating to violation of human rights with the approval of the court.
    • It visits, under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged make recommendations thereon.
    • It study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation; 
    • It undertakes and promotes research in the field of human rights.
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