The scheme is aimed to address the lack of social security coverage and address the need for medical care and expenses when workers are unable to work anymore.
In this era of globalization, it is quite evident that the role of the state has change from ‘government to governance’. The promotion of a new strategy of development that placed greater reliance on the market and civil society institutions greatly influenced this changed thinking. But state’s basic responsibility towards provision of certain minimum conditions of work, including minimum wages and social security cannot be brushed aside.
Since independence, policies in India emphasized accelerated industrial growth and other important goals such as achieving self-reliance, reduction in disparities across regions in the country and prevention of concentration of economic power in private hands. These goals implied that other objectives such as creation of employment opportunities, assisting the development of small-scale and village and household industries, and protecting the consumer from the private sector monopolies were also to be addressed. In this context, Indian constitution provides an overarching framework for regulation of condition of work as well as protection and promotion of livelihoods. Since then, social security of the workers under unorganized sector was placed in the objective to be pursued by the government for the welfare of its citizenry. The informal sector plays a significant role in the economy in terms of employment opportunities and poverty alleviation. This sector generates income-earning opportunities for a large number of people. In India, a large section of the total workforce is still in the informal sector, which contributes a sizable portion of the country's net domestic product. More than 90 per cent of workforce and about 50 per cent of the national product are accounted for by the informal economy. A high proportion of socially and economically underprivileged sections of society are concentrated in the informal economic activities.
In this regard, the Government of India launched many schemes for the unorganized sectors like Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (2008), Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (2007), and Atal Pension Yojana (2015) and various others as well. While many schemes and projects exit, there are few which are in the nature of entitlement. The significant expectation in this regard is from Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana which widens the social protection for the unorganized workers who comprise 95% of India’s 458 million workforce. The scheme, rolled out on February 15, 2019, provides monthly pension to workers who earn less than Rs.15,000 per month. Street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers and similar other occupations are covered under the scheme.
The pension scheme for the unorganized sector came along with a life insurance and disability insurance to provide a comprehensive social security net for the country’s poor and the daily wage earners. The schemes were aimed to address the lack of social security coverage and address the need for medical care and expenses when workers are unable to work anymore. Further it has some other additional benefits like:
· Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the scheme will receive minimum assured pension of Rs.3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
· In case of death during receipt of pension: If the subscriber dies during the receipt of pension, his or her spouse will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the pension as family pension. This family pension is applicable only to spouse.
· In case of death before the age of 60 years: If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and dies before attaining the age of 60 years, his or her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or may even exit the scheme.
· Equal contribution by the Central Government: Under the PM-SYM, the prescribed age-specific contribution by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government will be made on a ‘50:50 basis’.
Launching the scheme during the interim budget in February last year, the then finance minister Piyush Goyal had told Lok the Sabha that: “Half of India’s GDP comes from the sweat and toil of 42 crore workers in the unorganised sector. The government must provide them comprehensive social security coverage for their old age.” Goyal had estimated that at least 100 million unorganized workers will get benefits under the PMSYM within next five years.
The paramount importance of unorganized sector in the economy from the point of view of not only its contribution and share but also for sustaining the livelihood and well-being of a large section of population is well recognized. Consequently, the necessity of well-structured and well defined framework of statistics and its development perspective is also recognized. The development of unorganized sector has a potent role in the “inclusive growth” in the current paradigm of planning, and such a framework of statistics for formulation of policies and decision support is the need of the hour.
The author is a research scholar in Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida and an intern at Academics4nation.