The sudden lockdown in a country of 1.3 billion people has affected the economic structure of India, very badly. A recent study by Flourish Ventures shows that daily gig workers in the ride-hailing, delivery, and cleaning segments have been hit the hardest as of now, in the post-lockdown economy. Over 81% of them have faced a steep decline in their income, where nine out of 10 gig workers are currently earning less than Rs. 15,000 per month, as compared to the previous data of one in 10.
Sector-wise division in the study
In a sector-specific division, the study finds that taxi drivers have seen the biggest decline in incomes. There is a 90% reduction in their income as the movement was absolutely stalled for months in the country and people avoided using taxis and rental cars. The food delivery companies also faced the crunch of the lockdown as online deliveries considerably decreased with the fear of contraction of the virus. The income of food delivery agents decreased by 75% while the cleaning staff saw a closer 72% fall.
Gender disparity creeps in pandemic
The study makes a shocking discovery that gender bias and payment decrease made its way into the economic impacts of the coronavirus as well. The women gig economy workers have suffered a bigger decline in their incomes than their male counterparts. The study surveyed 800 gig workers, where 65% of men earned less than Rs. 10000 in August, in comparison to almost 74% of women who were paid below 10000. However, about 42% of the respondents, both male and female, agreed that they had received some sort of government aid – food provisions/direct benefit transfers – that has helped them stay afloat.
Gig economy one of the first to recover – is it so?
Other reports suggest that the gig economy is one of the first to regain their momentum as people with no private transport will rely on online taxi booking services, those craving for restaurant food will order more, and the other facilities will soon follow. However, not much can be said about the impact of this progress on the income of the gig workers in this sector. The government has also made it mandatory for all companies operating after lockdown to provide medical insurance to their employees. Not much is clear about its manifestation for the daily workers, either.
The Policy Times Suggestions
- Being a third-world country with a growing economy, India has to acknowledge the depreciation it is facing in all the sectors and make required provisions for the same.
- The gig workers are almost equivalent to daily wage earners who rely heavily on the customer response and engagement with the company. No considerations for them were made before imposing the lockdown.
- In the study, 84% of the workers also feared that they might contract the virus, but they had to step out for their livelihood, while 17% had a primary concern of meeting their basic needs.