• Sanskriti IAS - अखिल मूर्ति के निर्देशन में

E-Shram and its utility

  • 23rd September, 2021

(Mains GS 2 & 3 : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources & Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.)

Context:

  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment recently  launched the e-Shram portal  to develop a national database of unorganised workers.

About E-shram portal:

  • The E-shram portal is for the unorganised sector workers to promote their social security.
  • After registration on the portal, workers will receive an e-Shram card with a 12-digit unique number.
  • A national toll-free number 14434 will also be launched to assist and address the queries of workers seeking registration on the portal.
  • The immediate benefit an e-Shram cardholder will get is the accidental insurance of Rs 2 Lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1 Lakh on partial disability.
  • Any worker, aged between 16 and 59 and working in an unorganised sector is eligible for the e-Shram card.
  • However, the onus of registration on e-Shram lies with workers.

Benefit in long run:

  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has pushed lakhs of workers into informality.
  • It is estimated that around 380 million workers are needed to be registered as according to the Periodic force labour Survey(PLFS 2018-19) 90% workers are part of the unorganised workforce.
  • Workers stand to gain by registration on the platform  in the medium to long run.
  • But the instant benefit of accident insurance upto ₹0.2 million on registration is  not attractive.

Issue of Data security:

  • Small employers are incentivised to ask their workers to register even though the government requires them mandatorily to register their workers.
  • One of the vital concerns of e-portals is data security, including its potential abuse especially when it is a huge-sized database.
  • The central government would share data with State governments whose data security capacities vary.

Eligibility concerns:

  • There are various issues concerning the eligibility of persons to register.
  • By excluding workers covered by EPF and ESI, lakhs of contract and fixed-term contract workers will be excluded.
  • Under the Social Security Code (SSC), hazardous establishments employing even a single worker will have to be covered under the ESI, which means these workers also will be excluded.
  • The NDUW excludes millions of workers aged over 59 from its ambit, which constitutes age discrimination.

Procedural deficit: 

  • In many ways, SSC is exclusionary as ESC and EPF benefits will be applicable only to those employed in establishments employing 10 or 20 workers, respectively.
  • Huge number of workers also do not have an Aadhaar-seeded mobile or even a smartphone.
  • The extent of definitional and systemic exclusions is vast and there may be other categories of exclusion due to possible procedural deficits.

Identity challenge:

  • The very identity of unorganised workers presents problems due to complexity which is ever-changing.
  • Many workers are circular migrants thus they quickly move from one trade to another.
  • Many  workers are part of the gig economy and perform both formal and informal work. They straddle formal and informal sectors.
  • Thus the complex nature of gig workers identity creates problems as many social security laws do not recognise them as unorganised workers.
  • Thus, there is a need for an all-inclusive miscellaneous category that will have to be intelligently used to expand the occupational categories.

Trouble at regional level:

  • The central government hugely depends on the State governments for the success of this project.
  • Thus helping stakeholders need to overcome the challenges of server weakness by providing multiple attempts for registration.
  • The social dialogue with the stakeholders needs to improve through involvement of trade unions, multiple media outlets of various languages and holding of camps on demand.
  •  An efficient resolution of grievance redress mechanisms at micro-level will improve inclusiveness.

Issue of corruption: 

  •  The success of the project depends on the involvement of a variety of stakeholders.
  • There is concern of corruption as middle-service agencies such as Internet providers might charge exorbitant charges to register and print the E-Shram cards.
  • Thus the government will be required to involve  the surveillance agencies for proper implementation of the project.

Conclusion:

  • Vitality of E-Shram is visible as it provides the Labour Market Citizenship Document to them.
  • It also ensures triple linkage for efficient and leakage-less delivery of all kinds of benefits.
  • Thus it is necessary to ensure registrations of workers properly and ensure non registration can not hamper their social assistance benefits.
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