Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Budget for 2021-22 on February 1. In the budget speech, the FM proposed the launch of a portal that will be solely dedicated to collecting relevant information of migrant workers – gig, construction and more to help the unorganized labour in India. The information collected through the portal would be helpful in laying out important perks for them, including housing, health, skill development, insurance, food schemes, and many others.
Government’s ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme will enable the migrant workers to avail themselves of rations by the government in any part of the country. FM Sitharaman said that the One Nation One Ration Card scheme will be implemented in 32 States and Union Territories, reaching 69 crore beneficiaries. Other states and UTs will be incorporated in the coming months. “For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers,” said Sitharaman.
Furthermore, minimum wages will be applied to all category workers and would be covered by Employee State Insurance Corporation. After the 2015 change, the current daily wage stands at INR 160. “We will conclude a process that began 20 years ago, with the implementation of the 4 labor codes. For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation,” she said. This is groundbreaking for Indian migrant workers that constitute 37% of the Indian population (2011 census).
The Finance Minister added that women workers will now be allowed to work in all categories and even night shifts with adequate precautionary measures in place.
The FM further extended that migrant workers would be made available an increased range of rental and affordable housing. Notified affordable housing projects will be exempted from tax so that all workers in the country have a house to live in.
The budget offerings are welcomed for the migrant workers in India, a group that specially faced lot of pain and agony as Covid-19 pandemic spread across the country leading to nation-wide lockdown.