By Dr Gyan Pathak
Women’s participation in the labor force in India has remained low, hovering between 16 and 23 percent in recent years, mainly due to structural barriers ranging from access to education, lack of training and a direct correlation between gender or disability and the incidence of poverty. Also, most of them work in very low quality jobs. Now, the emerging trend suggests that they are more likely to take platform jobs after their education and marriage, an unenviable situation, which a recently published NITI Aayog study called ‘a positive emerging trend’.
Modi government think tank, since NITI Aayog is the brainchild of Prime Minister Modi after he dismantled the old ‘Yojana Aayog’ in 2014 when he became Prime Minister of India, presenting a comment as ’emerging positive trend’ is unfortunate at a time when the country’s female labor force has been aspiring to decent, good-quality, regular salaried jobs with full social security coverage. It could only have been done by removing barriers in the female workforce, not any other way, and of course not promoting ‘gig and platform’ jobs that have little social security and most of them are of low quality.
However, the Modi government is pushing the Gig and Platform Economy in a big way, hence the study titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy: Perspectives and Recommendations on the Future of Work’, at the cost of Prime Minister Modi’s own promise. of ‘working with dignity’. for all’, which would lead the workforce in general and the female workforce in particular to low-quality jobs. It would have a greater involvement in the female workforce that could be landing in a scenario of all kinds of exploitation.
As the title suggests, India’s Gig and Platform Economy is booming. The study also says that Platform companies are actively working towards value creation in terms of skills, digital literacy, financial literacy and instilling entrepreneurship, and praises Platforms for offering flexibility and job choice to all workers in general and women and PwD (people with disabilities). disabilities) empowering them to monetize their idle assets whenever and wherever they want. This benefit is not found in traditional employment sectors. The platforms are therefore attractive avenues of livelihood opportunities for women and people with disabilities, she says.
However, as of now, even the study says, the platform economy relies on innovation to provide access to skills development, social security, access to finance and job creation, which are the key pillars. of inclusive growth. This comment obliquely accepts the current precarious state of the gig and platform economy with special reference to the workforce in general and the female workforce in particular. In addition, the recommendations suggest many other things that our workforce is suffering from in the platform and concert sector.
The first recommendation for the industry suggests just how much difficulty surrounds our female workforce. Gender sensitization and accessibility awareness programs for workers and their families are recommended in partnership with civil society organizations (CSOs) and NGOs to promote the legal, economic and social rights of women, especially from marginalized and vulnerable backgrounds.
The second recommendation suggests gender and accessibility inclusive communication, systems and processes. It also sets a desirable example that Platform companies can ensure that there is a higher proportion of women as managers and supervisors, forgetting the fact that such things could not even be done in the country’s traditional work environment, what can they expect? women in the concert and platform sector that hasn’t even fully emerged?
In one of her recommendations, she talks about building skills and asset ownership in partnerships with governments, civil society organizations and business partners to retrain and upskill women and people with disabilities, at the same time. which facilitates their access to assets. Other recommendations include better infrastructure and job design to create an enabling environment for women and people with disabilities, and easier access to social security benefits for women and people with disabilities. Such things still need to be done under current government, public sector and private sector policies, especially in relation to the female workforce, which the Modi government is vigorously pursuing and therefore there is no guarantee that in the nascent emerging concert and platform sector may even be able to do so in the near future.
Therefore, all the emphasis on the Gig and Platform Economy is misplaced and has been pushed by the Modi government at the expense of traditional jobs. Given that this government is unable to provide decent quality regular salaried jobs to the national labor force and more than 90 percent of them are condemned to work in low-quality, low-paying, informal jobs, it is simply a convenience to bring the people to dream on behalf of temporary and platform jobs that generate excitement about their ability to improve livelihood prospects.
The recommendations for the government, civil society, allied businesses and non-profits are even too dreamy to realize, which the Modi government would or could never do, not to mention other players. It can be commented by our general experience. For example, full social security coverage is an old demand of the workforce that has yet to be met, even in the traditional world of work. Therefore, guaranteeing universal coverage of platform workers through the recommendation of the Social Security Code ceases to have face value, since the difficulties that prevent social security coverage now cannot disappear in the hands of the Gig and PlatformEconomy.
The same will happen with three other recommendations related to women, including closing skills gaps by conducting regular assessments and partnering with platform companies to onboard skilled women and PwD, reaching unbanked and underserved women and PwD banking through FinTech services and inclusive incentives. companies: platforms run by women or platforms that encourage the hiring of female employees and people with disabilities.
One of the recommendations related to gender awareness is too ambitious in the current context of the very low level of female labor participation and its background of neglect and apathy from the Modi government. Organize gender and accessibility awareness programs for all public-facing personnel, from traffic police and public order police to toll booth operators, etc. to, it is recommended. Make aggregated data publicly available, the latest recommendation says, to enable sound decision-making by the ecosystem. Isn’t it too much to expect from the Modi government which has always been guilty of failing to maintain and provide timely and accurate data on the workforce? Therefore, the entire study aims to create a favorable atmosphere for the Gig and Platform Economy, which is essentially motivated towards speculation, but not really for the benefit of the workforce in general and the female workforce in particular.
We should take note of the comment made in the study that says: “Being in its nascent stage, the platform economy in India has not yet been extensively studied. Not only are there huge data gaps when it comes to listing platform and gig workers, but there’s also a lot to explore on the regulatory front. The policy design and implementation exercise must maintain its specific subjects and well-defined purposes, in order to be effective.”
Therefore, the Modi government must act to provide jobs to the female workforce by removing structural barriers to their employment and employability in general and compared to the male workforce in particular. Instead of ending this imbalance, with women and children suffering the most in all crises and circumstances, Prime Minister Modi’s penchant for hypnotizing people with one dream after another is dangerous for the country. (IPA service)