- Recently, NITI Aayog released recommendations on the gig economy. Enumerating the issues involved in the gig economy, discuss the steps that can be taken with reference to recent recommendations. (15 marks)
- Agnipath scheme for the armed forces was in the news for its perceived disadvantages. Highlighting these disadvantages, also discuss the benefits it entails. (10 marks)
1. Recently, NITI Aayog released recommendations on the gig economy. Enumerating the issues involved in the gig economy, discuss the steps that can be taken with reference to recent recommendations. (15 marks)
- An economic model where workers are hired on a part-time and flexible basis rather than full time is called gig economy. Livelihood of gig workers doesn’t involve traditional employer-employee relationship as per recently drafted Code on Social Security and they work as freelancers or independent contractors.
- Recently, NITI Aayog released a report titled ‘State of India’s Gig Economy’, according to which gig workers will be 4.1% of India’s total workforce by 2029-30. This is a diversified sector as gig workers find employment in retail trade, manufacturing, transportation sector, finance etc. But there are few disadvantages which need to be addressed like-
- They have no benefits of social security like provident fund, or employee state insurance. No paid leaves mean any health issue or emergency results in wage loss.
- Employment of gig workers is characterized by working daily and termination of services without notice, which was widespread during the pandemic.
- To increase market presence, aggregators give discounts which are in turn maintained by high commissions from gig workers.
- Low basic pay and relatively higher incentives mean long working hours to make earning viable. Their exploitation is increased due to lack of transparency on incentives criteria.
- Due to semi-skilled nature of work, gig workers have no voice and their unions are not that vocal.
- In this context, NITI Aayog’s recommendations must be considered which include-
- Structural transformation is a big issue as highlighted by economic survey and this makes skill development even more important. Platforms can collaborate with the National Skill Development Corporation to develop skills.
- Much of the gig work requires initial investment from workers themselves like in case of cab drivers. This calls for better access to institutional finance.
- Female labour force participation is lagging behind at 25% as per recent data and this calls for urgent social inclusion so that women can also participate in economic growth.
- Start-up India has made India a top leader in unicorns and this can be emulated in the case of gig economy with objectives like simplified procedures, skill development, funding support etc.
- Biggest issue in the gig economy is social security and this needs to be introduced for betterment of employee and employer both.
- India has a rising workforce and gig economy promises to fill this void of unemployment which otherwise can turn demographic dividend into disaster. With a high proportion of semi-skilled workers, there is a need to protect their interests like humane working conditions and social security.
2. Agnipath scheme for the armed forces was in the news for its perceived disadvantages. Highlighting these disadvantages, also discuss the benefits it entails. (10 marks)
- Agnipath scheme for armed forces aims to make the army youthful, fit and dynamic with renewed energy by enlisting ‘Agni veers’ in 17.5 to 23 years age group. There is provision for personnel recruitment below officer rank for 4 years and after that they can go for permanent enrolment.
- The scheme involves an alluring package and re-employment opportunities but with a very small age bracket, there is perception of many disadvantages like-
- Retrenchment after 4 years can cause security problems because those who will not get permanent and can’t find alternate employment might be taken in by rogue intelligence agencies and organized crime syndicates.
- The provision of training soldiers for combat roles in 4 years is short sighted and this can compromise national security due to less developed skill-sets required for armed forces.
- There is no provision of gratuity or pensionary benefits.
- But being a carefully crafted scheme, it has advantages like-
- Defense budget management is important for modernization of forces and to increase capital acquisition, workforce reduction is paramount.
- Revenue expenditure is high which impacts capital allocation severely. Only the pension component amounts to 20% of the defence budget.
- All major armed forces like China, USA and Great Britain have downsized their armed forces in the same manner.
- These cadres will get customized monthly remuneration with “risk and hardship” allowances and one-time ‘Seva Nidhi’ package.
- Downsizing is synonymous to rightsizing and not weaker military and reduced workforce will surely increase capital expenditure for new technologies and intelligent systems like Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. This will make our armed forces more lethal, innovative and quick.
Preparing UPSC from Home?