The E-Shram portal is a critical system for providing much-needed visibility to invisible labourers. Critically examine
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has developed E-Shram, a web platform that will be used to create a National Database of Unorganized Workers (NDUW) that will be seeded with Aadhaar. It aims to register 398-400 million unorganised employees and furnish them with an E-Shram card. According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS 2018-19), 90 percent of workers, or 419 million out of 465 million, work in the informal sector. Because of the seasonality of their job and the lack of a formal employee-employer connection, informal workers in rural and urban areas have been struck the worst by the pandemic.
- Accidental Coverage: Under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, each person who registers at the portal is eligible for a one-year accidental insurance of Rs 2 lakh (PMSBY).
- Integrating Welfare Programs: The portal aims to bring together all of the social welfare programmes offered to unorganised employees.
- Inter-state Migrant Employees Benefit: The site enables inter-state migrant workers to take advantage of welfare schemes regardless of their residence.
- Unorganized workers will be able to obtain social security benefits such as insurance coverage, maternity benefits, pensions, pensions, educational benefits and educational benefits.
- In the medium to long term, workers will benefit from registration.
- The key draw is the benefits they stand to earn in both regular and crisis situations, such as the current new coronavirus pandemic, which the government must properly disseminate.
- Security of Data:
- Data security, including potential abuse, is a major concern for e-portals, especially when dealing with large databases.
- There is currently no national framework in place: There have also been media publications highlighting the lack of a national data security infrastructure.
- Local server issues: It has been claimed that the server was down for a few days in various states, including Maharashtra.
- Using the anticipated 380 million workers as the universe of registration — a questionable assumption given that the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of workers into informality.
- Time issues:
- Long procedure: Due to the massive nature of enrolling each worker, this will be a lengthy procedure.
- There is no mention of a gestation period to evaluate the government’s strategy and efficiency.
- No hurried procedure: Employers are encouraged or forced to register their employees. While the government can appeal to them, any punitive action will make doing business more difficult.
- Complex identities:
- Circular migrant workers: Many are circular migrant workers who shift from one trade to another swiftly and unpredictably. Many others do both formal and informal work, and some may work in the gig economy, during non-office hours. They work in both formal and casual settings.
- Gig workers: Although the Ministry has included gig workers in this procedure, it is uncertain if the gig/platform worker can be defined as a worker in the first place.
- Structural Issues:
- Seeding of Aadhaar: Many workers would lack an Aadhaar-enabled phone or even a smartphone. Seeding Aadhaar is a contentious topic with political implications, particularly in the North-eastern districts.
- Eligibility: There are various concerns with regard to a person’s eligibility to register, as well as definitional issues.
- Exclusion: By removing workers covered by EPF and ESI from the UW universe, lakhs of contract and fixed-term contract workers will be left out. Hazardous establishments with even a single employee must be covered by the ESI, which means these workers will be excluded as well.
- There are no perks for the elderly: Millions of workers above the age of 59 are excluded from the NDUW.
What more can be done
- Surveys and surveillance: To assess the registration system’s efficiency, the government must disclose registration statistics at the national and regional levels. Corruption is also an issue, as middle-service providers such as Internet companies may demand high fees to register and produce E-Shram cards. As a result, the participation of monitoring agencies is critical.
- Multi-Pronged Approach: The project’s success is contingent on the participation of a wide range of stakeholders. Massive and inventive dissemination operations involving multiple media outlets in various languages are also needed. Along with this, government’s holding of camps in response to stakeholder requests, effective grievance redress systems and Operations at the atomic level is needed.
- Allowing Multiple Forms of Identification: Making Aadhaar mandatory for registration is unlawful and discriminatory. Other government-issued identification cards should be allowed to be used to verify a worker’s identity. The One-Nation-One-Ration Card (ONORC), the E-Shram Card, and the Election Commission Card can all be linked for effective and leakage-free delivery of all kinds of benefits to workers. Additionally, workers should be given the freedom to use alternative numbers, as this will boost the number of people who register on the portal.
- Offline Registrations: Because not all workers will be able to use the online portal, arrangements for offline registration are required.
- In this way, Common Service Centres can be used to host “registration camps” for those who prefer to register offline.
E-Shram is a critical mechanism that gives previously unseen labourers much-needed visibility. It will give them a copy of the Labour Market Citizenship Document. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need of creating safety nets and highlighted the need for India’s unorganised sector to develop solid social security institutions. E-Shram is a critical mechanism that gives previously unseen labourers much-needed visibility. It will give them a copy of the Labour Market Citizenship Document. It must be assured that registrations do not result in a person being denied access to social assistance and benefits.