In June 2022, NITI Aayog, New Delhi, released a study report on India's Gig and Platform Economy, which has triggered extensive discussions on the potential for employment and social inclusion within the sector, the implications on labour and efforts that stakeholders can make to design labour welfare and social security policies and skill the workforce to tap potential opportunities in the sector.
Taking the lead following this report, ISB Institute of Data Science, Indian School of Business, (Mohali), in collaboration with NITI Ayog, New Delhi, organized a policy conclave on 'The Gig and Platform Economy in India' on 25th January 2023.
The discussions revolved around three core thematic sessions:
(i) Promoting Financial Inclusion for Gig and Platform Workers,
(ii) Promoting Digital, Financial & Entrepreneurial Skills for Women and Youth in the Platform Economy,
(iii) Designing Social Welfare Initiatives for Gig and Platform Workers.
In his welcome address, Professor Ramabhadran Thirumalai, Deputy Dean & Associate Professor, ISB, informed that discussions around these topics were critical as focusing on providing social security to such people was essential.
Mr. Rajesh Gupta, Director, Niti Aayog, emphasized that platform companies should come forward and share all the pertinent details, such as the exact number of workers in a district, the number of women workers, etc., with the government. He said that it would benefit a researcher significantly to understand various aspects of all parties involved (user, third party, provider, etc.) if both the government and the platform companies could collaborate to make a simulator for an aggregator app in which the researcher can see both sides to help her understand various aspects of all parties (user, third party, provider, etc.).
Mr. Manvesh Singh Sidhu, IAS, Labour Department, Punjab, suggested creating a national-level body that can be tentatively titled 'National Social Security Board' and a state-level board titled 'State Social Security Board' for organized and unorganized labour.
Theme 1: Promoting Financial Inclusion for Gig and Platform Workers
Speakers: Mr. Harit Mohan, TiE Chandigarh, Mr. Ashish Sikka, Ecom Express, and Professor Puran Singh, IIT Mandi
Moderator: Professor Avik Sarkar
For workers and individuals to leverage opportunities in the gig and platform sector, the report recommends accelerating access to finance through products specifically designed for platform workers. Some platforms have taken the initiative to partner with finance companies to fulfill their workers' credit and other financial needs. Financial products must be designed to fit micro-entrepreneurs' needs and lift entry barriers.
Theme 2: Promoting Digital, Financial & Entrepreneurial Skills for Women and Youth in the Platform Economy
Speakers: Ms. Snehil Singh, OMI Foundation, Dr. Maneesh Mishra, NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation), and Prof Ahmed Timoumi, ISB
Moderator: Oshin Dharap
In this session, the panel discussed the existing skill training initiatives for platform work by the government, platform companies & skill training providers, how these can be leveraged, and new skilling initiatives introduced to meet the skilling needs of the platform economy. It delved into how workers can strengthen and expand their skills portfolio.
Theme 3: Designing Social Welfare Initiatives for Gig and Platform Workers
Speakers: Mr. Shaik Salauddin, IFAT (Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers), Mr. Bala Subramanian Iyer, ICA (International Cooperative Alliance), and Mr. Joyson Devasia, Swiggy
Moderator: Dr. Sakshi Khurana, Niti Ayog
The panel deliberated that Platform companies can introduce Social Security measures that protect workers against contingencies such as accidents and health & lifecycle developments such as childbirth and old age. In partnership with private insurance companies and the government, they can design measures for paid sick leave, health access and insurance, occupational disease, work accident insurance, retirement/pension plans, and other contingency benefits, as envisaged in the Code on Social Security 2020.