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e-Shram Portal - Securing labour

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September 06, 2021

Why in news?

The Centre recently launched the e-Shram portal to create a national Aadhaar-seeded database of unorganised workers.

What is the e-Shram portal?

  • The portal is expected to create a unified database for unorganised workers to help them access various benefits of central and state government welfare schemes.
  • Unorganised workers form over 80% of the workforce - self-employed, migrant and MSME workers.
  • The aim is to register 38 crore unorganised workers.

  • It will cover construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors and domestic workers, among others.
  • Workers can register on the portal with the help of Aadhaar and bank account details.
  • They will be issued an e-Shram card containing a 12-digit unique number.
  • Registered workers will be eligible for Rs 2 Lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1 lakh on partial disability.
  • The registration on the portal will be coordinated by the Labour Ministry, state governments, trade unions and Common Service Centres.

How does it help?

  • Under the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, a similar attempt was made. But it resulted in the registration of just 120 million workers.
  • But the digitisation under this portal will now help in targeting income transfers better and in including the workers in other social security schemes.
  • E.g., pension, provident fund, deposit linked insurance, maternity and accident benefits as spelt out in the Social Security Code, 2020.
  • However, the Code does not spell out how this will be financed.

How significant is registering unorganised workers?

  • At present, unorganised workers are registered under different welfare boards, or not at all.
  • In the absence of any central register, migrant workers often do not receive the benefits.
  • Of the 50 million workforce of construction workers, at least 15 million are not registered.
  • Of the 35 million or more registered, about 40% are not active.
  • Events such as Covid-19 require reaching out to the unprotected workforce.
  • Clearly, an electronic registration system that can be accessed anywhere is the need of the hour.

What should be done?

  • Decentralised registration process with participation of municipalities, panchayats and civil society groups.
  • Flexibility to register in any centre of convenience, rather than a specified office.
  • Advertising and educating the masses
  • Making it easy for workers registered under other welfare boards to enlist on this portal.
  • Permitting other national IDs such as voters’ card for those without Aadhaar.
  • Efficient data handling of more than 400 million people.


Source: The Indian Express, Business Line

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