India takes a big step towards dignity of labour via an extensive social security scheme for 50 crore workers

In what might be a huge step towards ensuring social security for millions of India workers, the Labour Ministry has proposed an extensive scheme to provide benefits pertaining to retirement, health, old age, disability, unemployment and maternity, to about 50 crore Indian workers.

As reported by the Economic Times, this ambitious scheme will be implemented in three stages, with the first stage costing a whopping Rs 18,500 crores. Under the first stage, workers would get spartan benefits pertaining to health and retirement. The unemployment benefits would be added in the second stage and other schemes would be added in the third phase.

The beneficiaries of this scheme are mainly divided into four tiers. The first tier will comprise of people below the poverty line, all the scheme’s expenses for whom will be funded by the government. The fuel for driving this funding would be generated via the funds under National Stabilisation Fund and “Building and Construction Worker Cess”.

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The second tier would be made up of workers belonging to the unorganised sector, who aren’t self-sufficient but have some contributory power. In the third tier, the workforce would be comprised of those who would contribute to the scheme themselves or with the help of their employers. The final tier would see people of some affluence who will contribute out of their own pocket.

While the whole success or failure of this ambitious social security exercise rests on the implementation, this announcement comes merely a month after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced another humongous welfare scheme in the form of National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS).

Under this scheme, initially, 10 crore poor and vulnerable families are expected to be provided about Rs 5 lakh per year, to go towards medical costs. Expected to benefit about 50 crore people, which turns out to be about 40% of the Indian population, this program is being pegged as the “world’s largest government-funded health protection scheme”.

So in the coming years, the Central government would have not one but two new extensive welfare schemes to worry about. But if the proposed social security scheme somehow manages to click, it could see itself becoming a huge fore in ensuring the dignity of labour for countless of marginal labourers, who would then, up to a certain extent, would enjoy the same benefits as those having cushy jobs.

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