DMPQ- E-Shram portal is a great initiative in the course of ensuring dignity for unorganized sector, but it has a long way to go. Throw light on the challenges it faces . Also suggest some measures to improve it’s functioning.

. Recently, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) launched the e-Shram portal for creating a National Database of Unorganized Workers (NDUW). The portal came into being after the Supreme Court directed the Government to complete the registration process of unorganized workers. This much needed step, considering the enactment of Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 is however, about a decade late to come into existence.

As much as appreciable the step is towards addressing the issues of the informal sector, the portal also raises concerns over issues like workers’ data protection, digital illiteracy etc.

Unorganised Sector and e-Shram

Total Share: According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS 2018-19), 90% of workers were in the informal sector, which is 419 million of the 465 million workers.

Impact of Pandemic: Informal workers in rural and urban areas have been hit the most due to the pandemic, because of the seasonality of their employment and lack of formal employee-employer relationship.

e-Shram Portal: It seeks to register an estimated 398-400 million unorganised workers and to issue an E-Shram card containing a 12 digit unique number.

Challanges

Lower Tele density and Digital Literacy: India still witnesses a significant digital divide, as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, as of 30th June, 2021, the rural teledensity (number of telephone connections per 100 people in a specified geographic area) stands at 60.10% against the overall teledensity is 88.07%.

Aadhaar Related Issues: Imposing the condition of Aadhaar would exclude workers without Aadhaar cards from the process.  Many unorganised workers have to change mobile numbers frequently and may not always be able to access the Aadhaar-linked mobile.

Data-Security Related Issues: In the absence of a stringent data protection law, one of the vital concerns of the portal is data security and its potential abuse considering it is a mega-sized database.

Non-Inclusive Coverage of Workers: By excluding workers covered by EPF and ESI, lakhs of contract workers will be excluded from the ambit of unorganised workers.

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