November 28, 2021 - 4:01 am

Database Of Unorganised Workers

The migrant labour crisis that played out during the covid-induced National lockdown last year expose the gaping holes in the social security architecture in India. To address this glaring gap, the government has launched e-Shram portal - a database of unorganised workers. This database is also going to be linked to an Unnati for blue-collar and grey-collar jobs.

                              With over 8.43 crore informal sector workers having registered with their Aadhar numbers on the e-Shram portal, the centre is in touch with states to ensure convergence of social security schemes for them and help match time with employment opportunities. The Central Government aims to register 38 crore workers of the unorganised sector under this program. Apart from construction workers, this include migrant workers, Street vendors and domestic workers.

                              There is a growing discussion within the government - that there has to be a universalization of social security and schemes have to be tailored according to categories of organised and unorganised workers and those who moved between these two categories. Discussions are being held with the states for better convergence of sshemes at the state and Central levels. There is going to be a proper database of Aadhaar-seeded identification of workers, which will help in better streamlining of benefits. This may be a slow process but will be a positive process.

                              There are several issues that require greater government attention. The information gathered on workers, especially on migrant, needs to be regularly updated. Registration for those unwilling to do so needs to be incentivized. Eligibility criteria for schemes that depend on information that is not collected by the e-Shram portal also needs to be integrated and portability of benefits needs to be examined too.

                              Merely creating a database of worker is not enough, but identifying them, registering them is a step towards including them in social security schemes, and creating a more comprehensive and robust social security architecture. Had the central and the state governments begun these legally mandated processes on time, much of the distress of lakhs of vulnerable workers would have been avoided.