Economic Survey 2020-21: India’s gig economy now among largest in the world

India has become one of the largest markets for flexi staffing in the world due to the wider adoption of e-commerce and online retailing, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21 tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The increasing role of the gig economy was evident through the significant growth of online retail businesses during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the survey pointed out.

“During the period of Covid-19 induced lockdown, the increasing role of the gig economy was evident with significant growth of online retail business,” the survey said.

The lockdown period also saw employers trimming staff and engaging freelancers to reduce their overhead costs, it added.

Contracts for gig workers are typically shorter and more specific to a task or job and the gig economy allows for flexibility in employer-employee relationships, it said.

Digital platforms, it said, have emerged as enablers of employment creation, with job seekers and job providers connecting with each other more easily in the absence of middlemen.

“Digital technology enables two-sided markets which saw the emergence of e-commerce and online retailing platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ola, Uber, Urban Clap (now, Urban Company), Zomato, Swiggy etc… India has emerged as one of the largest countries for flexi staffing in the world,” the survey read.

This class of workers, till recently, was devoid of basic rights and social securities as they did not fit the definition of a worker or employee under India’s labour laws. But they have now been brought under the ambit of the Code on Social Security 2020 which provides them with social security benefits, the survey said.

“With increasing demand in industries for on-hire project-specific consultants, logo/ content designers, web designers etc. for the white-collar workers, the delivery boys and taxi drivers engaged in platforms like Uber/Ola, Swiggy, BigBasket, Pizza Hut etc, are now showing potential as well,” the survey said.

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