Agencies Share Strategies for Delivering Welfare and Livelihoods to India’s Informal Sector

Agencies Share Strategies for Delivering Welfare and Livelihoods to India’s Informal Sector

Bangalore, February 4, 2011: Advancing strategies to deliver welfare and livelihood development services to India’s informal sector workers was the focus of the workshop organized by CHF International and the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, held at the IIMB campus on February 3 and 4, 2011.

Though India’s GDP has been growing steadily over the last two decades, the nature of growth has been anything but equal. India is still home to one third of the world’s poor.

Mr. Sridhar Pabbisetty, Lead for Social Enterprises at CHF International, Bangalore said “The bulk of India’s workforce works in the informal sector. Majority of this group of workers struggles daily with challenges such as lack of any social or financial security, difficult and often unsafe working conditions, exploitation at the hands of contractors and absence of basic amenities. In the face of such challenges, there is massive underemployment and productivity loss for these workers. India’s leap into economic and social prosperity can only occur if it can enable these workers to live and work to their full potential and improve their livelihoods.”

The keynote address was delivered by Ms Mirai Chatterjee, Director of Social Security at the Self Employed Women’s Association, better known as SEWA, a national organizations headquartered at Ahmedabad. Ms Chatterjee provided insights on the evolution of SEWA, and the various opportunities and challenges they faced and highlighted aspects that would be useful  for other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with informal sector workers.  Ms Mirai Chatterjee said “Social security and work security are both important to ensure sustainable livelihood for the unorganized sector. Both these are essential two sides of the coin of improvement of the informal sector workers.”

The workshop provided a forum for leading social enterprises, NGOs, government agencies and private corporations from across India to exchange ideas on how they have successfully provided livelihood and welfare to informal sector workers. Presentations were made by:

  • NGO representatives from LabourNet, Ajeevika Bureau, Dhan Foundation; Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat
  • Government agencies including the Employment Generation and Marketing Mission from Government of Andhra Pradesh; Urban Community Development unit of the Pune Municipal Corporation; National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector and the National Skill Development Corporation
  • Private companies in attendance included Shobha Developers and the Confederation of Indian Industries’ Bangalore chapter.

Mr Brian English, Country Director, CHF International said, “Through this workshop we hope to facilitate collaborations that can expand the reach of such programs and encourage the transfer of innovations.”

Professor M V Rajeev Gowda, Chairperson of the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore said, “This workshop forms part of the Centre for Public Policy’s activities under a grant from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India. We are pleased to associate with CHF International on this very critical and contemporary issue. The workshop has been extremely productive and we look forward to further engagements in contributing to a better deal for India’s informal sector workers.”