- Recently, Discussions were on to link the e-Shram portal with the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.
- The Ministry was working on a mechanism to process accident insurance claims by unorganised workers registered on the e-Shram portal, which has seen over 27 crore registrations so far.
- In Budget Speech 2022-2023, the Finance Minister had announced the linking of four portals _ the National Career Service, e-Shram, UDYAM (for those interested in starting MSMEs) and ASEEM (Atmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping).
- The Labour Ministry announced that the inter-linking of the NCS and e-Shram portals had been completed recently.
- This linkage has enabled unorganised workers registered on e-Shram to seamlessly register on NCS and look for better job opportunities through NCS.
- So far, more than 26,000 e-Shram beneficiaries have registered on NCS and have started benefiting from this linkage.
About e-Shram portal
- The Ministry of Labour & Employment launched the eSHRAM portal for creating a National Database of Unorganised Workers (UWs) including construction workers, migrant workers, gig workers and platform workers, street vendors, domestic workers, agriculture workers, etc on 26th August 2021.
- eSHRAM portal seeded with Aadhaar will be used to deliver all the social security benefits of the Central and State Governments for the unorganised workers.
- All eligible registered workers on eSHRAM portal get an Accidental Insurance cover of 2 Lacs under PMSBY from the date of issue of policy.
- It would allow the workers to get the direct benefit transfer (DBT) through the e-Shram unique ID number.
- The unique IDs on the e-Shram portal carried the same series from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) universal account number (UAN).
- It aimed at creating a national database of unorganised workers and to facilitate social security schemes for them.
Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
- It was launched on 9th May, 2015 with a view to enhance the level of insurance penetration in the country and to provide insurance cover to common people especially poor and the Under-privileged Sections of the society.
- Eligibility: Available to people in the age group 18 to 70 years with a bank account.
- Premium: Rs.12 per annum.
- Payment Mode: The premium will be directly auto-debited by the bank from the subscribers account on or before 1 st June of each annual coverage period under the scheme.
- Risk Coverage:
- Death – Rs 2 Lakh
- Total and irrecoverable loss of both eyes or loss of use of both hands or feet or loss of sight of one eye and loss of use of hand or foot – Rs 2 Lakh
- Total and irrecoverable loss of sight of one eye or loss of use of one hand or foot – Rs.1 Lakh.
What is an Unorganised /Informal sector?
- It is characterised by small and scattered units which are largely outside the control of the government. There are rules and regulations but these are not followed. Jobs here are low-paid and often not regular.
- There is no provision for overtime, paid leave, holidays, leave due to sickness etc. Employment is not secure.
- People can be asked to leave without any reason.
- This sector includes a large number of people who are employed on their own doing small jobs such as selling on the street or doing repair work.
- Similarly, farmers work on their own and hire labourers as and when they require
Unorganised/Informal sector in India
- Around 80% of India’s labour force is employed in the informal sector and the remaining 20% in the formal sector.
- Of the 80% informal sector workforce, half work in agriculture and the remaining in non-agricultural sectors.
- Formal workers work in the public and private organised sectors and have adequate social security benefits.
- But informal sector workers lack these benefits, making them very vulnerable to economic and political shocks.
- The casual workers among the informal workers are most susceptible to economic shocks as most of them do unskilled, low-paid occupational jobs.
- A significantly high proportion of these workers belong to the marginalised groups and are migrant labourers.
- The problems in the informal sector can be costly as it can lead to job and wage losses, higher inflation and even risk the livelihood of migrant workers.
- The structural disadvantage in terms of literacy and skills make them more prone to exploitation.
- The discrimination in the urban informal labour market against these people leaves them with no choice but to accept the offered wage.
- There is a government failure to reduce wage inequality and ensure a bare minimum wage to a large chunk of the urban informal workers during normal times.
- Therefore, the majority of urban informal workers remain highly vulnerable and live in precarious conditions even during normal times.
- The existing government programmes cannot provide gainful employment opportunities to the migrants at their native places.
- Informal sector workers suffered far more from the national lockdown in 2020 than their formal sector counterparts.
- With an inadequate safety net, there were painful accounts of displaced informal workers trying to get back to their rural homes.
- Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008: The Act empowers the Central Government to provide Social Security benefits to unorganised sector workers by formulating suitable welfare schemes on matters relating to (i) life and disability cover, (ii) health and maternity benefits, (iii) old age protection and (iv) any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government.
- Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY): Life and disability cover is provided through Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY).
- Benefits under the schemes are for Rs.2 lakh on death due to any cause & permanent disability, Rs.1.0 Lakh on partial disability and Rs.4 lakh on death due to accident to the unorganised workers at the annual premium of Rs.342/- (Rs.330/- for PMJJBY + Rs.12/- for PMSBY) depending upon their eligibility.
- Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
- Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-DhanYojana (PM-SYM) and National Pension Scheme for Traders, Shopkeeper and Self-Employed Persons (NPS- Traders).
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana / Package
- In 2020, the Government of India had announced the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” (PM-GKAY) for all beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
- It is a comprehensive relief package of Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against the CoronaVirus.
- It aims to reach out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hand, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs.
Conclusion and Way Forward
- There is a need to give protection to informal sector workers via social welfare schemes so that the disruption they are facing does not lead to a permanent fall in demand.
- Agriculture cannot absorb more people. It is already overcrowded. Engaging returning migrants in building new agri-value chains has some potential to create productive employment and protect livelihoods.
- In the meantime, if the government can scale up its “one nation, one ration card” scheme, and make subsidised grains available at places of work in cities and industrial towns, migrants can hopefully hold on for some time before taking a call on moving back to their native places.
- Government godowns are overflowing with excess grain stocks, and it may be useful to distribute at least a part of this to benefit migrant workers rather than incur high costs of maintaining these stocks.
- Along with this, some financial assistance under the Garib Kalyan Yojana can also be extended to migrants to help them remain in the cities of their work