Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

India’s gig workforce to reach 2.35 Cr by 2030: NITI Aayog


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Regulation of Gig Economy

A NITI Aayog report has identified that is expected to grow to 2.35 crore by 2029-30.

Do you know?

According to a study released by NITI Aayog, the number of gig workers in India is estimated to be 77 lakh in 2020-21. Isn’t it too low to imagine? Seems like there is huge under-reporting.

What is the Gig Economy?

  • In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.
  • A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career. e.g Employee models of Uber, Ola, Swiggy etc
  • In this economy, tech-enabled platforms connect the consumer to the gig worker to hire services on a short-term basis.
  • Gig workers include self-employed, freelancers, independent contributors and part-time workers.

Where does gig culture exist in Indian Economy?

  • Sectors such as media, real estate, legal, hospitality, technology-help, management, medicine, allied and education are already operating in gig culture.
  • The gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.

Key Drivers for Gig Economy

  • Unconventional work approach by millennials: Hectic lifestyles of employees in private sectors have created a negative perception of full-time employment among millennials.
  • Emergence of a start-up culture: The start-up ecosystem in India has been developing rapidly. For start-ups, hiring full-time employees leads to high fixed costs and therefore, contractual freelancers are hired for non-core activities.
  • MNCs are hiring contractual employees: MNCs are adopting flexi-hiring options, especially for niche projects, to reduce operational expenses after the pandemic.
  • Rise in freelancing platforms: Rise in freelancing platforms has also aided in the development of the gig economy.
  • Business Models: Gig employees work on various compensation models such as fixed-fee (decided during contract initiation), time & effort, actual unit of work delivered and quality of outcome.
  • Impact of Covid-19: Many laid-off employees are focusing on developing skills to avail freelance job opportunities and become a part of this burgeoning economy.

Why is Gig Economy preferred by workers?

  • Profit through multiple work: One can work on freelancing as well as work full-time somewhere else.
  • Women empowerment: It is very beneficial for womenwho work on this concept when they cannot continue their work or take a break from career due to marriage or child birth.
  • Leisure and dependency: Retired peoplecan stay active after retirement as this will keep them engaged away from loneliness and depression and can earn as well on their own.
  • Flexibility and diversity to the workers: It offers flexibility when workers can work according to their convenience and schedule rather than routine like in full-time jobs.
  • Work from home: The travel costs and energy to travel to the workplace is reduced.

Why is Gig Economy preferred by Employers?

  • Efficiency, efficacy and productivity of workers in the gig economy are much more than that of a stable full-time job.
  • More rconomical for employers-when employment givers can’t afford to hire full-time workers, they hire people for specific projects and pay them.
  • Start-up companies and entrepreneurs – who do not have big financial space – can grow only if they can leverage the services of contract employees or freelancers.
  • In a gig economy, businesses save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training.
  • Competition and efficiency among workers is improved.

Challenges faced in Gig economy

  • No perks and benefits: There are no labour welfare emoluments like pension, gratuity, etc. for the workers.
  • Job insecurity: Gig workers may face unfair termination. They may also attain minimum wages and less paid leave.
  • No legal protection: Workers do not have the bargaining power to negotiate a fair deal with their employers.
  • Unionization of workers will be difficult.
  • Confidentiality of documents etc. of the workplace is not guaranteed
  • Urban nature: The gig economy is not accessible for people in many rural areas where internet connectivity and electricity is unavailable.

New classification by NITI Aayog: Platform vs. Non-platform Workers

  • The NITI Aayog report broadly classifies gig workers into platform and non-platform-based workers.
  • The consequent platformisation of work has given rise to a new classification of labour — platform labour — falling outside of the purview of the traditional dichotomy of formal and informal labour.
  • While platform workers are those whose work is based on online software applications or digital platforms.
  • Non-platform gig workers are generally casual wage workers and own-account workers in the conventional sectors, working part-time or full time.

Recommendations made by NITI Aayog

  • The NITI Aayog has recommended steps to provide social security, including paid leave, occupational disease and accident insurance, support during irregularity of work and pension plans for the country’s gig workforce.
  • It has also recommended introducing a ‘Platform India initiative’ on the lines of the ‘Startup India initiative’.


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