According to a recent report by NITI Aayog, the size of the Gig Economy is continuously increasing in India, and it will expand continually in the future. The report named ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy contains statistics estimating the size of India’s gig economy, recommendation on how the sector could be improved, financial inclusion of gig workers could be ramped up, and so on.
Besics of Gig Economy in India
Gig workers are those engaged in livelihoods outside the traditional employer-employee arrangement. They can be broadly classified into the platform and non-platform- based workers. Platform workers work based on online software apps or digital platforms such as Swig- gy, Ola, etc. While non-platform gig workers are generally casual wage workers and own-account workers in the conventional sectors, working part-time or full-time.
The rapidly burgeoning gig work force is ushering in a new economic revolution globally. India with its demographic dividend of the half- a-billion labor force and the world’s youngest population, rapid urbaniza tion, widespread adoption of smart- phones, and associated technology- is the new frontier of this revolution. The gig economy has proven its re- silience and potential in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic by unlocking jobs in the millions and keeping communities connected. The gig econ omy transforming how we move, work, and live-not just impacts how we do business but also affects our GDP.
Present and Future of Gig Economy in India
- The report ‘India’s Booming gig and Platform Economy’ by NITI Aayog estimates that in 2020- 21, 77 lakh workers were en- gaged in the gig economy. They constituted 2.6% of the non-ag- ricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India. The gig workforce is expected to ex- pand to 2.35 crore by 2029-30. The gig workers are expected to form 6.7% of the non-agricultural workforce or 4.1% of the total livelihood in India by 2029-30.
- There is a growing demand for gig work. The employment elasticity to GDP growth for gig workers was above one from 2011- 12 to 2019-20 and was always above the overall employment elasticity. The higher employ ment elasticity for gig workers indicates the nature of econom ic growth, which created greater demand for gig workers while not generating commensurate demand for non-gig workers. This also points towards a greater conversion of non-gig work to gig work.
- Gig work is expanding in all sec tors. Regarding industrial classification about 26.6 lakh gig workers were involved in retail trade and sales, and about 13 lakh were in the transportation sector. About 6.2 lakhs were in manufacturing and another 6,3 lakhs in finance and insurance activities.
- Gig work may accentuate skill polarisation. About 47% of the gig work is in medium-skilled jobs, about 22% in high-skilled, and about 31% in low-skilled jobs. The trend shows the con centration of workers in me dium skills is gradually declining and that of the low skilled and high skilled is increasing.
Opportunities Related to Gig Economy in India
- The gig sector has low-entry bar riers and hence holds enormous potential for job creation in India
- Around 300 cities of varying siz es in India are serviced by vari ous gig workers operating across sectors like ride-hailing, home based services, food/grocery/ medicine delivery, logistics ful fillment, and e-commerce, cov ering the broad ambit of urban services, and making the mobil ity of workers and clients across market hussle-free.
- The technological intervention in this space has contributed to the uptick in demand and hence the associated earnings opportunities.
- There is an emerging positive trend that suggests women are more likely to take up platform-based gig jobs after their education and marriage.
- Often, the platform companieswhich provide earning opportunities for those associated with them take significant steps in skilling these workers as well.This is to assure uniform stan-dards in quality of service whilealso achieving upskilling ofworkersin an otherwise highly unorganized labor economy.
Challenges Related to Gig Economy: in India
Access to internet services and digital technology can be a re strictive factor for workers will ing to take up jobs in the gig and platform sector.
Lack of job security, irregular wages, and uncertain employ ment status for workers are sig nificant challenges in the gig and platform sector.
The uncertainty associated with irregularity in the available work and income may lead to in creased stress and pressure for workers.
The contractual relationship be tween the platform owner and the worker is characterized as other than one of employment. Platform gig workers are termed “independent contractors.” As a result, platform gig workers can not access many of the work place protections and entitle ments,
Workers engaged in remuner ative activities with digital plat forms may face stress due to pressures resulting from algo rithmic management practices and performance evaluation based on ratings.
Platform India initiative, builton the pillars of Accelerating Platformization by Simplifica- tion and Handholding, Funding Support and Incentives, Skill De velopment, and Social Financial Inclusion, like the immensely successful Startup India initia- tive, may be introduced.
Access to institutional credit may be enhanced to bolster the Government’s existing efforts to promote financial inclusion through financial products spe- cifically designed for platform gig workers and those inter- ested in set-up their platforms. Venture capital funding, grants, and loans from banks and other funding agencies should be pro- vided to platform businesses of all sizes at the pre-revenue and early revenue stages.
It is crucial to strengthen indus try linkages and enable canci- dates undergoing skill training to receive on-the-job training. Examples of such outcome-based skilling are seen in the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme of the Ministry of Education and the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme and Dual System of Training initiative of the Ministry of Skill Develop- ment and Entrepreneurship.
By integrating the Skill Develop- ment and Employment/ Social Security portals such as E-Shram and National Career Services portals of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Udyam portal of the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, and the ASEEM portal of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, a one-stop solution could be afforded for a large number
Platform businesses can un- dertake partnerships with civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organi zations (NGOs) to promote the legal/ economic/ social rights of women and especially those from marginal and vulnerable backgrounds, thereby increas ing their potential to take up non-traditional livelihoods.
Along the lines of measures in troduced to mitigate the chal lenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by platforms such as Ola, Uber, Urban Company, Swiggy, and Zomato, measures for paid sick leave, health access, and insurance may be adopted by platforms as a part of their workplace or work engagement policies for all the workers they engage, round the year. This will have positive implications for of fering a social security cover to platform workers employed by these firms.
Along the line of Indonesia’s initiatives in offering accident and other insurance to workers through digital mechanisms, ride-hailing, delivery and e-com merce platforms may adopt such a model for providing ac cicent insurance to all delivery and driver-partners and other platform workers across India. These may be offered in collabo ration with the private sector or government, as envisaged un der the Code on Social Security, 2020.
Gig work is bound to expand due to the technological possibilities in nu merous production spaces. At the same time, it also allows workers to transcend the limitations of work time and workspace. Given this po tential of gig work, the future would see a growing prominence of such works.