Home >News >India >Govt to set up national database of informal and migrant workers to aid 'employment'
The development comes months after the pandemic induced mass reverse migration following the nationwide lockdown beginning 25 March. (Photo: HT)
The development comes months after the pandemic induced mass reverse migration following the nationwide lockdown beginning 25 March. (Photo: HT)

Govt to set up national database of informal and migrant workers to aid 'employment'

  • The project will enrol unorganized sector labourers to help them get jobs
  • This is the first time that the govt has formally expressed its intent to create such a database

NEW DELHI : The government is creating a national database of the unorganized workforce, including migrant labourers, and will seed their profiles with the 12-digit Aadhaar number to provide them social security coverage, the labour ministry said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

This is the first time that the Union government has formally expressed its intention to create such a database to help informal workers get jobs and other welfare benefits. The development comes months after the mass reverse migration of workers following the national lockdown imposed on 25 Mach to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“The ministry of labour and employment envisages the development of a National Database for Unorganized Workers seeded with Aadhaar for all unorganized workers. The project will enrol unorganized workers, including migrant workers, to help them get employment and other assistance," the ministry said.

The labour ministry is also working on merging the existing Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, in one of its labour codes. It has done away with the provision of registering migrant workers.

“A database will help the government in several ways. It will help keep track of migrants’ movement and better deal with situations such as covid-19. It can also help the governments of both the origin state and destination state to plan welfare measures, including social security provisions, if they wish to reach out to them when needed," said a labour ministry official, requesting anonymity.

The ministry drew a lot of criticism this week after it told Parliament that it does not have information on the number of migrant deaths during the lockdown. An open source database by a group of academicians and technology experts showed that more than 900 migrants had died because of non-covid reasons during the lockdown. The reasons were varied and included accidents when they were walking home, it showed.

The Union government has faced many questions in the last three days in Parliament on the hardship and unemployment of migrant workers, but its reply has been very measured. In response to a question on the number of job losses because of covid-19, the labour ministry said “the global spread of the coronavirus followed by lockdowns has affected global economies, including India. Covid-19 has resulted in a large number of migrant workers going back to their villages."

Wednesday’s announcement of government’s intention to create a database will be seen as a positive development and, if executed quickly, could help expand welfare schemes to benefit the working class. This is more so as economic migration of rural labourers from agriculture sectors will increase as the pandemic situation improves.

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