Ideas on Basic Income and their development in Indonesia can arguably be traced back in three trajectories. The first trajectory has been associated with discussions about long-standing ideals for social protection and welfare state. It started especially in the 2000s and found resonance in circles of civil society organizations working on issues of poverty, inequality, and welfare. To some degree, it has influenced ideas that are translated into schemes or programs for social protection in Indonesia, such as conditional cash transfers to poor families.
The second trajectory has emerged recently. Discussions on Basic Income in this trajectory have been motivated by advances brought about by so-called Industrial Revolution 4.0 and consequences that come with it from the application of artificial intelligence that is increasingly taking place in production, consumption, and in how our economy is being organized now and in the future. “If robots destroy employment opportunities, then Universal Basic Income should be introduced” said Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in 2017, succinctly summing up the idea.
The third trajectory concerns with nature and biophysical conditions. These, it is argued, may impose limits to the economy as we know it, mostly on one that is based on extractive industry or fossil fuels. Equally, such economy tends to destroy value as it compromises the capacities that make ecosystems possible to provide benefits for human well-being. These arguments are proposed to become the foundation for Basic Income. Discussions on Basic Income in this trajectory take account of Indonesia’s circumstances and unique contribution to global challenges such as forest and ocean degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. At the same time, this trajectory discusses interactions with ideas in the former two trajectories, especially on how social protection is to be understood and organized in a post-industrial society and within safe-operating space for humanity. Conversations of this kind have inspired the Basic Income Lab at the Research Center for Climate Change of the University of Indonesia (RCCC UI).