Database of unorganised workers is a welcome step towards creating a robust social security architecture

News: Launching of e-Shram portal, a database of unorganized workers, is a welcome and long-overdue step towards creating a social security structure for this part of the labor force.

The absence of credible data on the migrant workforce, during the economic distress induced by COVID-19, resulted in problems in extending policy support for this section.

Moreover, there is a lack of credible data for the entire unorganized labor, which accounts for roughly 90% of the entire labor force in the country.

To address this gap, the government has launched the e-Shram portal. The portal facilitates the identification and registration of the unorganized workers.

Reportedly, the database will also be linked to Unnati (the proposed labor matching platform).

What are the important findings revealed by the e-Shram portal data?

The e-Shram portal data gives vital information on the unorganized labor force, such as,

– Number of registered unorganised workers: a fifth of the estimated unorganised workers in the country are now registered on the database.

– Caste based data on unorganised workers: 40.5% of unorganised workers belong to the OBC category, 27.4% are from the general category, 23.7% are Scheduled Castes, while 8.3% are Scheduled Tribes.

– Sector based data on unorganised workers: Maximum registrations have been in the agriculture sector (53.6 per cent), followed by construction (12.2 per cent), and domestic and household workers (8.71 per cent).

What is the way forward?

Merely creating a database of workers is not enough, but identifying them, registering them, is a step towards including them in social security schemes. For this to happen, the following steps need to be taken:

First, the information gathered on workers, especially on migrants, will need to be regularly updated. The states of origin and destination will need to do this and keep track of circular migration.

Second, workers unwilling to register in e-Shram portal need to be incentivised.

Third, eligibility criteria for schemes that depend on information that is not collected by the e-Shram portal will also need to be integrated.

Fourth, the issue of portability of benefits, extended at both the central and state level, need to be addressed.

Source: This post is based on the article “Database of unorganised workers is a welcome step towards creating a robust social security architecture” published in Indian express on 23rd November 2021.

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