NITI Aayog serves as the apex public policy think tank of the Government of India, providing input and designing strategic, long-term policies for the Government. The organisation also gives applicable advice to the Centre, States, and Union Territories.
In a report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’, NITI Aayog conducted a survey across urban areas in the country. The conclusion was that women are more likely to take part in platform work after education and marriage. However, the report also stated that over the last few years, female labour force participation has remained low, fluctuating between 16 percent to 23 percent.
This worrying fact has led to NITI Aayog pitching several fiscal incentives to increase female participation in the gig economy. These include tax breaks or startup grants or companies with at least a one-third population of women or people with disabilities.
Moving away from the conventional pigeonhole of 9 to 5 jobs, gig or platform work is set apart by flexible work hours and freedom of thought. Platform work can particularly help in empowering women and people with disabilities to monetise their idle assets when and where they want. Gig and platform workers are those who work on digital platforms or software apps.
However with these pros, there are also cons: While platform companies have created avenues of employment, it has often been marred by low wages, unequal gender participation, and a lack of possibility for upward mobility within an organisation.
Since gig workers are typically hired on a temporary contractual basis, they are not considered real employees of a company. Thus, they do not receive the same benefits that an on-roll employee receives such as paid sick and casual leaves, travel and housing allowances, provident fund savings, retirement plans, and benefits, etc. The report by NITI Aayog recommends these perks be extended to gig workers.
Additionally, the report stated that access to institutional credit could aid these workers in setting up their own platforms, with special emphasis on formal credit opportunities for women and people with disabilities.