The Hour of the Basic Income

The spread of COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacy of measures nations claimed they had, to deal with a crisis. A microorganism succeeded in locking down nations, disrupting markets, and exposing loopholes in the existing policies and welfare systems.  As India wades through the stormy seas of averting a health crisis, millions are left bereft of livelihoods and safety nets. The plight of migrant workers has brought to light the true state of our social infrastructure as they were denied basic services to even get back home. 

Thomas More in his 16th century book titled Utopia wrote …provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming, first a thief, and then a corpse’. Since then, several humanist thinkers, politicians, billionaires and social activists have lent their support to Universal Basic Income (UBI). The Economic Survey of 2016-17 had designated UBI as a powerful idea to be deliberated upon but not yet ripe for implementation. As the Coronavirus pandemic lingers and experts are left in a dilemma in predicting a definite last date to the war against the virus, there can be no better opportunity than now to analyze the idea of UBI and evolve an appropriate mechanism. (more…)

Housing Migrant Workers: The Biggest Ambiguity in Labour Policies Framework?

According to the 2011 Census, India has 5.6 crore inter-state migrants, which is 33% less than the number that was observed in the previous census conducted in 2001. This population is mainly employed by the unorganised/informal sector and plays a significant role in the accelerated growth story of India’s urban infrastructure. The current policies have not been successful in equipping the migrant labour workforce with crucial amenities like housing in the cities they have migrated to, which added to their quandary during the COVID pandemic. Provision for habitation for the migrant workforce has only now been brought to the forefront for discussion, which reflects the failure of the government and detachment from the transformative constitutionalism mechanism. (more…)

Social Security Policies for Migrant Labour: Struggles of Data Deficiency

Coronavirus outbreak and the consequent nationwide lockdown has impacted nearly 40 million internal migrants, as per the World Bank, because of the uncertainty of their living conditions and their excludability in any specific demographic. The current pandemic saw an exodus of migrant workers, which made everybody unsure of the actual number of people who work in the informal economy. More than 90-92% of the workforce in India is informal, which directly means that they have no social and employment security.

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The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019: Revamping AYUSH for Improved Health Care Policies

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 was formulated to integrate the medical and research institutions dealing with the Indian System of Medicine (ISM), under a national commission.The necessity of this Bill was in question because of the existence of the Central Council of Indian Medicine under the Indian Medicine Central Council (IMCC) Act, 1970, both of which the Bill seeks to replace. (more…)

Social Security for Migrant Labour in India: An Overview

Migrant workers continue to face endless issues choosing to work in different States and cities, especially since they are mostly employed by the unorganized sector. Migrating from their hometown to an urban area in search for better opportunities puts them in a vulnerable position where they are forced to fend for themselves in less than substandard working conditions and subject to being exploited for very little money. Many migrant workers who engage in seasonal work are often trapped in debt or bondage. In order to ensure decent livelihood and standard of living of such a huge chunk of the population, the need to have a sturdy legislation upholding their rights is of utmost importance for the overall development of the economy. (more…)

India’s COVID-19 Challenge: Assessing Health Services’ Response to a National Crisis

The most developed countries, despite their vast and advanced health care facilities still cannot effectively deal with the COVID-19 situation without a top-notch approach in policy making and implementation, as is the case with the USA. More importantly, there is a strong need for action to ensure that these policies do not hinder the extension of the non-COVID related health services to avoid an even worse state of public health. (more…)

The Draft Social Security Code, 2019: Illusion of Benefits for India’s Workforce?

By Abhiudaya Verma, Research Associate, Policy

With layoffs and pay-cuts starting in various firms all over the world, most economists are of the view that the economic crisis due to corona could be as bad as the 2008 financial crisis and that recession is inevitable. Experts also urged various Indian companies to avoid layoffs and pay cuts on humanitarian grounds and to provide a sense of security to their employees. But the neo-liberal world has imperilled the Welfare State values and in a pro-market economy it seems highly unlikely that firms would adopt the humane approach and face greater losses. In such times, it is the labour and social security laws that provide relief to the workforce of the country. The Government of India aims to bring a new labour legislation that would merge 44 labour laws under four categories– wages, social security, industrial safety & welfare, and industrial relations. The recent Social Security Code Bill, 2019 is one among the four consolidated laws.  (more…)

The COVID-19 Challenge: Tackling the Policy Plague of Social Inequalities

By Anushka Gutte, Research Associate, Policy

In late December, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission of China reported a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei province. Surfaced in the Chinese seafood and poultry, it was soon identified to be the novel corona virus. As of this writing, the corona virus outbreak has caused over 4 million cases and over 200,000 deaths worldwide. India reported its first case in Kerala on 30th January, 2020, a student from Wuhan. Since then India has reported over 70,000 COVID-19 cases. Over the last three months, India has taken multiple actions in terms of investments in healthcare, vaccine research, testing to deal with the ensuing pandemic. However, these are inadequate at social fronts, especially in a country like India where issues of social inequality are of utmost importance. (more…)

Access to Clean Cooking Fuel in India: Aspiring for Gas Pipeline while struggling for LPG

By Anushka Gutte & Mrigakshi Tandon, Research Associates, Policy

In May 2016, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana that aimed at providing 5 crore Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections in the name of women of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) household. Research suggests that only 18 percent of rural households in India have access to LPG as cooking fuel, whereas the rest use different, more tedious, unclean and hazardous means for cooking. Moreover, access to LPG connections is largely limited to the urban and semi-urban areas covering the middle income and affluent households. People belonging to BPL category or rural areas have little or no access to these connections. They predominantly use ‘chullahas’ where they burn wooden sticks in the stove for cooking, which makes these families, especially the females therein, vulnerable to harmful fumes. (more…)