e-Shram Portal

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    • Over four crore unorganised sector workers had been registered on the e-Shram portal in under two months of its launch.

    About

    • Once registered on the portal, the unorganised workers would be able to access the benefits of various welfare schemes easily.

    Image Courtesy: PIB 

    e-Shram Portal

    • Launch: 
      • The portal was launched on August 26, 2021. 
    • Aim: 
      • with the aim of creating a national database of unorganised workers (NDUW). 
    • Ministry: 
      • Ministry of Labour & Employment
    • e-Shram Card: 
      • Workers will be provided with an e-SHRAM card which will have a 12 digit unique number. 
      • The details of workers will also be shared by the state government and departments.
    • Single window: 
      • This will be a single-point reference to help authorities reach out to and track workers in the informal sector, and offer welfare in times of crisis. 
    • Who all are included: 
      • The database will include construction workers, migrant workers, gig and platform workers, street vendors, domestic workers, agriculture workers, migrant workers and similar other sub-groups of unorganised workers.
    • Self enrolment: 
      • It will be available in public for open access where workers can self-enrol through Aadhaar and mobile numbers.
    • Recent data: 
      • Till October 2021, 4.15 crore registrations.
      • Men to women ratio: 50.02% of the registered workers were women and the remaining 49.98% were men
      • Age Group: Around 65.68% of these registered workers are in the age group of 16-40 years and 34.32% are in the age group of 40 years and above,
      • Category: Forty-three per cent of the registered workers were from the OBC communities, 27% from the general category, 23% from Scheduled Castes and 7% from Scheduled Tribes.
      • States: As per the latest data, the States of Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are at the forefront of this initiative with the highest number of registrations
      • Dominant Sector: The largest number of workers registered are from agriculture and construction, given the sheer volume of these two sectors in employment generation in India
      • Other Sectors: Domestic, apparel sector, automobile and transport sector, electronics and hardware, capital goods, education, healthcare, retail, tourism and hospitality and food industry workers were among those who had registered.

    Significance

    • Accidental insurance: 
      • After registering, he/she will get an Accidental Insurance cover of 2 Lacs under PMSBY. 
    • One window for all social benefits:
      • In future, all the social security benefits of unorganized workers will be delivered through this portal. 
    • Assistance during an emergency:
      • In emergency and national pandemic like situations, this database may be utilized for assistance.

    Image Courtesy: PIB 

    Challenges

    • Lack of Social security benefits:
      •  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.
    • Susceptibility to economic 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. 
    • Structural disadvantage: 
      • 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.
    • Government failure: 
      • 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. 
    • Implications of Lockdown: 
      • 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. 

    Way Ahead

    • 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.

    Source: TH