In poll year, 1.25 million new jobs to map informal sector
The 1.25 million people will be employed as data enumerators for the Seventh Economic Census, and earn up to Rs 100 a day, government officials familiar with the matter said.Updated: Jan 10, 2019 07:47 IST
Soon, a network of up to 1.25 million people will embark on an ambitious exercise across India’s 250,000 village panchayats or administrative units — mapping the so-called informal or unorganised sector, which accounts for almost 400 million jobs in India according to some government data.
The 1.25 million people will be employed as data enumerators for the Seventh Economic Census, and earn up to Rs 100 a day, government officials familiar with the matter said. The significance of creating over a million jobs, if only temporary, in an election year isn’t lost on anyone, but policymakers and statisticians are even more delighted because this exercise will finally assess the contours of India’s vast and little-known informal sector, and provide the data when it is still recent and relevant.
According to the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS), a government body, in 2005, around 395 million of the 458 million people employed in India had jobs with the informal sector. More recent data from NCEUS isn’t available — highlighting why this project is important.
The data collected by the enumerators will be uploaded through a mobile-based app that will be linked with a central data server of the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (Mospi), the government officials added.
The officials, who asked not to be named, said this will help Mospi get data quickly (and without spending too much money). Experts said that such data would have helped the country assess the impact of demonetisation in 2016 and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017 on the informal economy.
The country has been relying on five-year old data for the unorganised sector, which was published as the Sixth Economic Census, 2013. These numbers are very different from those in the NCEUS study —another reason why this project is required. About 1.17 million people were employed for the previous census carried out six years ago.
“We have developed a system that can reduce the enormous time taken in collection and processing of field data. Earlier, it was a two-year exercise. Through the latest initiative we can get the report ready in six months from the day we initiate data collection,” said CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd CEO Dinesh Tyagi. The company is a special purpose vehicle under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that provides services to the citizens through a network of 350,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs).
Dr Pronab Sen, former chief statistician of India, said that the proposed system could have mapped the impact of demonetisation on the non-corporate or unorganised sector.
“The informal sector is unpredictable in nature. Every year, several million units are shut and new units are added. The current methodology leads to delays in data collection and processing, by which time the ground reality changes. Therefore, these data [Economic Census] are not that useful,” he said. Mospi has so far conducted six economic censuses — 1977, 1980, 1990, 1998, 2015 and 2013. Indeed, the report of the Sixth Economic Census for 2013-14 was published only in 2016.
The data enumerators will cover all establishments to “capture their economic activity and other fundamentals like employment etc.,” a spokesperson of Mospi said.
The new model will be employed for the Seventh Economic Census in the current year that will cover all states and Union Territories, Tyagi said.
“In order to prepare ground work, we are holding the first workshop on January 17. We will train field staff thoroughly and they will be certified enumerators. Other government agencies and private companies can also take their services for impact assessment and market survey.”
First Published: Jan 10, 2019 07:47 IST