DMPQ-Discuss how economic challenges caused by Covid-19 pandemic for India’s poor prove the significance of universal social security.

India is one of the largest welfare states in the world and yet, with atrocities caused by Covid-19, the state failed to provide social welfare to most of its vulnerable citizens. Presently owing to the pandemic, India is witnessing multiple crises: a crumbling health infrastructure, mass inter- and intra-migration and food insecurity.

Moreover, the extenuating circumstances brought by the second wave of the pandemic has pushed an estimated 75 million people into poverty and brought even the middle and upper-class citizens to their knees.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Social Security is a comprehensive approach designed to prevent deprivation, give assurance to the individual of a basic minimum income for himself and his dependents and to protect the individual from any uncertainties.

Need For Universal Social Welfare

Majority of Workforce is in Unorganised Sector

The organised sector workers constitute less than 10% of all workers in India. This leaves more than 90% of the workforce without job security, labour rights and post-retirement provisions. Also, in a dynamic market-economy, workers will lose jobs at a faster pace with technological changes. Thus, workers need to keep learning to stay productively employed.

Illness Is Universal, But Healthcare Is Not

Economic capital, in the absence of social capital, has proven to be insufficient in accessing healthcare facilities.

Further, Out-of-pocket health expenses create barriers to seeking healthcare and can push marginal households into poverty, form as much as nearly 90% of private expenditure on health.

Inadequate Expenditure on Social Security

India has a broad aim of social protection programs, but the overall public expenditure on social protection (excluding public healthcare) is only approx. 1.5% of the GDP, lower than many middle-income countries across the world.

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