Govt panel recommends assured basic income for migrants

Assured basic income, SEZs for migrants among key recommendations of government-appointed panel

The report also suggested tweaking the current ration card scheme to One Nation, One Man, One Ration Card

The report also suggested the setting up of a National Labour Authority to look after the welfare of workers. Credit: DH Photo

Assured basic income for some time for workers losing jobs during a pandemic like Covid-19 or natural disasters, national Parliamentary constituencies for NRIs and Special Economic Zones for migrants returning from abroad are among a slew of recommendations submitted by a one-man Commission set up by the Centre.

Former IAS officer CV Ananda Bose, the one-man Commission appointed by the Labour Advisory Board under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, has also suggested a Special Purpose Vehicle to help workers, who do not have entrepreneurial skills, to invest money which will be put in businesses and returned to the investors.

Bose told DH that he had conducted online consultations with 3,360 people in three months before preparing the recommendations and earlier submitted interim reports so that the government does not have to wait till the final report for implementing recommendations it found feasible at the earliest.

He was tasked to look into the problems of the workforce in India and suggest viable solutions against the backdrop of Covid-19 when the country witnessed the "distressing" sight of "hapless" migrant labourers trekking in thousands to their villages. Over 60 recommendations have been submitted so far.

One of the suggestions was to provide assured basic income for workers losing a job due to a pandemic or disaster for a period depending on the nature of the calamity. The suggestion on setting up a National Registry of Workers has already been implemented.

With the government moving ahead with One Nation, One Ration card, the report has suggested a tweak in the programme -- One Nation, One Man, One Ration Card. The rationale was that when a man leaves his villages for work without his family may not be able to avail ration and in this scenario, ration cards for individuals would be of help.

Providing political capital to around 2 crore Non-Resident Indians, spread over the globe, was another suggestion. The report said that there could be 5-6 notional Parliamentary seats for the NRIs and their representatives could attend Parliamentary proceedings.

"We cannot have territorial representatives. That is why I have suggested notional seats. The NRIs could vote for their representatives, say in the Gulf, Europe and the Americas," Bose said.

While an SPV is mooted for small-time investors who may not be skilled to do business, the SEZs are envisaged for NRIs who are confident to do business on their own.

The report also suggested the setting up of a National Labour Authority to look after the welfare of workers, as there is no overarching body that looks into these aspects.

Tapping the skills of returnees from abroad, Bose has also recommended setting up of Panchayat-level service centres, which can utilise the services of those like plumbers, electricians and drivers among others. The idea behind the concept is that the returnees get jobs while society gets their service.

Anticipating re-migration once the Covid-19 subsides, the report has suggested, "skilling, re-skilling and multi-skilling" of workers to reap benefits of the global job market. The report suggests that there could be more opportunities in the augmented reality and artificial intelligence sectors.

A health insurance scheme for unorganised sector workers, pension scheme and National Social Security Board are among other suggestions in the report submitted by Bose.