With a population of 1.4 billion, India is well on its way to becoming the world’s most populous country. Its youth population alone, aged 15 to 29, is larger than the total population of the United States, or of any other industrialized country. It is understandable, then, that the government is increasingly looking to technology to enhance the efficiency, impact, and scale of its interventions, at the same time that the private sector sees market opportunities to develop various technology-based solutions. The two together are propelling digitalisation and changing the face of the Indian economy and labour market.
The report tackles the crucial issue of how digital trends in India are unfolding and how they might impact the country’s world of work. It highlights the opportunities with digitalisation, but especially the challenges of these developments and the areas where policy intervention is needed to harness the potential of technology to improve labour market outcomes. How digitalisation and its impact across India’s heterogenous world of work are understood and managed today will have a bearing on how they play out by 2030.
The study informs a Roadmap for Action 2030 — a set of policy recommendations toward charting a pragmatic path to managing digitalisation and work in India. The recommendations include:
- Ensuring that digitalisation does not exacerbate inequities depends on the extent to which the government can close the digital divide.
- Enable equitable access to technology, education and training, and subsequent access to a wider range of occupations than just those that are gender-normative.
- Gig work and digital entrepreneurship must be understood in the context of the diversity of service sector jobs in order to craft policies and regulations that actually lift up those in less-skilled jobs in the sector.
- Enhance opportunities for women’s economic participation, including in gig work and entrepreneurship, through the provision of childcare, maternity benefits, and other such entitlements.
- Social safety nets and effective skills training systems, especially an effective apprenticeship system, are essential to support workers in the face of technological change and labour market restructuring.
- Create safe working environments by instituting safety-related education, protocols, and redressal mechanisms for women, including in location-based and online work.
- Invest in urban infrastructure, ensuring proper lighting and safe transport, to support women’s economic participation.
- Support small businesses to help them adopt technology.
- Implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 should adopt a life-cycle approach to women’s education, where schooling and other educational programmes encourage women to return to education after taking a break, as well as offer career pathways for women opting for non-gender normative occupations.
- A new social compact between the government, companies and workers should be developed so that platform data can help with evidence-based policymaking.
This work was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Sabina Dewan, Devesh Taneja and Mathangi Krishnamurthy of the JustJobs Network are authors of the report.