Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Security in India

Social Security refers to the measures which the Government takes in order to protect the workers from unexpected situations such as unemployment, sickness, maternity, old age, industrial accidents, etc.

These unexpected situations have the potential to wreck havoc in the life of workers and their families if the social security measures are not in place.

In India, a vast majority of the workforce is employed in the unorganized sector and a small percentage in the organized sector. Workers in the organized sector enjoy various social security benefits such as provident fund, pension, paid maternity, etc. However, majority of the workers who are in the unorganized sector are generally devoid of these benefits.

Realizing the importance of social security for unorganized workers, the Government has put in place several measures that target them and help them in receiving social security benefits. Some of them are Aam Admi Bima Yojana, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, etc.

Despite such steps, 'universal social security' continues to be a distant dream in India. India, being a welfare state, has the obligation to make 'universal social security' a reality.

How to achieve universal social security?
a) Focus on the unorganized sector - Most of the workers that are devoid of social security are in the unorganized sector, as stated earlier. So, focus must be to develop the unorganized sector and make it organized. This will enable greater production and jobs on the one hand and greater protection to the workers on the other.

b) Augmenting Resources - The Government, already preoccupied with its myriad responsibilities, faces a resource crunch and finds it difficult to adequately finance the social security schemes. So, resources must be augmented by improving tax collections, reducing wasteful expenditure, putting in place transparent procurement procedures, etc.

c) Rationalization of schemes - In India, many social security schemes are in place, the benefits of which sometimes overlap. This needs to be rationalized. This will ensure that proper targeting of beneficiaries takes place as well as scarce resource are conserved.

Protecting the interests of the workers is a key responsibility of the State and the employer concerned. This should be accorded priority so that workers feel secure as regards their future.

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