Although news and social media showcased poignant stories of migrant workers in India returning to their places of origin on foot during the nationwide lockdown in 2020, they have largely been neglected. The inflow of migrant workers in urban centres has been absorbed by blue-collar jobs primarily in the unorganised sector. However, limited mobility across unorganised sector jobs and lack of social security benefits threaten the sustenance of migrant workers in urban areas.
An asymmetric labour market, limited opportunities for up-skilling, combined with the inability to access entitlements in the destination city due to lack of proof of identity magnify the challenges faced by migrant workers. Moreover, absence of credible and comprehensive data on their demographics and occupational trends prevents the design of targeted policies.
The Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood (DESH) Stack e-portal, announced in the Union Budget 2021-22, aims to address some of the challenges faced by migrant workers in India.
The e-portal has the capabilities to facilitate skilling and employment for blue-collar migrant workers through digital credentialing and job discovery. Migrant workers in India can use the DESH-Stack to obtain digitally verifiable credentials to establish proof of work and secure new jobs. Linking the DESH database with government and private databases will help plug existing gaps in the enumeration of migrant workers in India, thus enabling the design of effective policies. Through various use cases, this perspective explores the applications of the DESH-Stack for migrant workers, employers and NGOs, and its potential in addressing prevalent bottlenecks in the ecosystem. It also explores the role of philanthropic organisations in enabling this shift by engaging with other stakeholders and facilitating the digital credentialling mechanism.
Authors: Abhishek Modi and Pramiti Lonkar