SC irked by absence of migrant database


Provision of food for labourers need not wait until completion of registration, says court


  • The government’s delay in completing a national database to identify and register migrant workers in order to provide them benefits in times of dire need stood out like a sore thumb in a recent Supreme Court hearing. The direction for the database was issued by SC in 2018. 
  • The court acknowledged the submissions made by advocate Prashant Bhushan that such a database would have made it easier for the government to identify and provide essentials such as food and dry rations to stranded migrant labourers during the second wave of the pandemic. 

Modification in Uniform national data grid 

  •  Many of these destitute workers required immediate cash transfers to purchase essentials.
  •  A uniform national data grid of migrant workers, in which both the Centre and States provide inputs should be there. 
  • This would ensure that benefits meant for migrant workers reach them and no other. 
  • The court asked the government to clarify what steps it had taken under the Code of Social Security of 2020. 
  • During the hearing, SC pointed out that many of the workers would be illiterate and unable to register online. 
  •  It was a welfare government’s obligation to reach out to the workers, their employers and contractors.


National database to spot and register migrant workers

  •  As per the Census, India had 45.6 crore migrants in 2011 (38% of the population) compared to 31.5 crore migrants in 2001 (31% of the population).
  • A comprehensive database for migrant and other unorganised sector workers is seen as necessary within the  wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  •  The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979, required all establishments who hired inter-state migrants  to be registered, also as all contractors who recruited these workers to be licensed.
  •  Proper implementation of this law would have ensured information on inter-state migrants to assist the state machinery in its relief efforts
  • However, no such detailed records were maintained, and knowledge on the amount of migrants was unavailable to both central and state governments.

Recent Government Initiatives

  • ASEEM portal - In an endeavour to enhance the knowledge flow and bridge the demand-supply gap in  the skilled workforce market, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has  launched ‘Atma Nirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)’ portal to assist skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities.
  • National Migrant information system (NMIS) - so as to capture the data regarding  movement of migrants and facilitate the graceful movement of stranded persons across States, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has developed a web Dashboard - National Migrant Information System (NMIS).
  •  the web portal (NMIS) would maintain a central repository of migrant workers and help in  speedy inter-state communication to facilitate the graceful movement of migrant workers to their native places.
  •  ‘Mahajobs’ portal - The Maharashtra Government has launched a portal named ‘Mahajobs’ for job  seekers and employers, due to the economic situation caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rozgar Abhiyan - The scheme seeks to market local entrepreneurship and create partnership with industrial associations to supply employment opportunities to 1.25 crore migrant workers who lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • The government has already mapped the skill of the workers in order that they will be provided employment as per their expertise.
  •  The migrant commission announced by the Uttar Pradesh government will map skills of workers  who have returned to the state, providing data to employment exchanges.

Code on Social Security  

  •  The Code on Social Security , 2020 may be a code to amend and consolidate the laws concerning Social Security with the goal to increase Social Security to all or any employees and workers either within the organised or unorganised or the other sectors.
  • Social Security refers to protection measures provided to workers to make sure healthcare and income security in case of certain contingencies like adulthood , maternity, or accidents.
  •  this may replace nine Social Security laws, including Maternity Benefit Act, Employees’ Provident Fund Act, Employees’ Pension Scheme, Employees’ Compensation Act, among others.
  • The code universalizes Social Security coverage to those working within the unorganised sector, such as migrant workers, gig workers and platform workers.
  •  For the primary time, provisions of Social Security also will be extended to agricultural workers also.
  • The code also reduces the deadline for receiving gratuity payment from the continual service of 5 years to at least one year for all types of employees, including fixed-term employees, contract labour, daily and monthly wage workers.



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