Inclusive Future of Work: India

Country brief prepared for the 1st EWG under the 2019 Brazilian presidency of the BRICS

India remains the fastest-growing major economy in the world with annual GDP growth at 6.8 per cent. However, the rising unemployment rate despite falling labour force participation in 2017-18 is a concern. High levels of informality in the economy continue to be a persistent issue. Almost 92 per cent of the population is employed in the informal sector and its numbers have swelled in the organized sector in recent years as a result of globalisation and new technologies. The vulnerability of workers is also expected to increase due to global warming.

Current policy priorities to increase economic growth and generate decent work, taking into consideration future of work drivers, are to attract private investment; reorient policies for MSME growth; redesign the minimum wage setting system; reform labour laws; and promote use of technology to facilitate the transition to a digital economy. While economic growth is primarily driven by the services sector, India is now focussing on boosting the manufacturing sector with the adoption of a new industrial policy.

The future of work in India will be determined by the country’s response to the impact of four primary drivers: globalization, demographic and climate changes and the adoption of new technologies by Indian economic units, in particular in agriculture and manufacturing. Sectors need to focus on rapidly restructuring their production and business models in light of these drivers to ensure competitiveness and also to drive large scale reskilling of the existing workforce. Reform of labour administration, which will be reflective of new emerging forms of employment as well as act as a catalyst for competitiveness, will be essential.