The pandemic situation that has been plaguing the world for nearly over half an year resulted in the contraction of many national economies along with the Indian economy, raising concern on the employment situation as the prime job creation sectors are shrinking fast. Insufficient earnings, reduction in productivity and other conditions at present leading to vulnerable employment undermine the basic rights of workers.
According to the International Labour Organization, 398.6 out of the 535 million labour force in India in 2019 will have to live with poor quality jobs. Even though the economic growth in recent years was higher, working poverty in India still remains to be high.
The sharp contraction in the major sectors was mostly the result of massive ‘reverse migration’ of millions of workers due to the loss of livelihood seen during the early phase of the lock down which exposed the vulnerabilities of urban informal jobs.
The present scenario of India is quite interesting to analyze as the capital and labour from low value-added activities in a sector are moving to another sector, but not to a higher value-added one in the same or other sectors. This keeps threatening the odds of reducing working poverty.
In order to reduce these vulnerabilities and generate more employment opportunities, we need to take up a multi-pronged strategy.
1. The center-state coordination on employment initiatives is a must with the local governments being provided with sufficient resources.
2. Local governments must initiate programmes to design and implement employment-intensive investment policies.
3. Prioritizing and investing in urban infrastructure by using a labor-intensive approach is a more cost-effective solution.
4. Lastly, launching urban employment schemes directed towards building large-scale medical, health and sanitation infrastructure across India helps promote employment.
Strengthening of existing employment schemes along with new and alternative sources of employment together provides workers with decent wages as well as job security without sacrificing basic working rights.