Tuesday, February 3, 2009

3 takes on India's future

Three recent articles offer perspectives on the financial downtown and the informal economy in the world's second largest country. The articles all involve ways in which the informal is actually at the heart of the formal economy.

An Oxford Analytica article published by the International Herald Tribune suggests that India's economic boom has been built on a vast and informal labor pool:
Informal sector strain. India's economic boom relied heavily on poorer workers in sectors such as construction, labor-intensive manufacturing (such as textiles, leather goods, gems and jewelery), and labor-intensive service sectors such as cleaning, maintenance and private security. Their services met the requirements of the expanding corporate sector for a cheap and flexible external labor force. However, these workers' options will be severely limited as such jobs are shed.
Another article, also from the IHT notes that "the proportion of India's urban poor halved in the 30 years to 2005 but absolute numbers rose from 60 to 81 million during the period." The article cites a United Nations report as saying that "urban workers are increasingly being pushed into the informal sector."
The report said such exclusion is pushing a large number of urban workers such as street vendors and rickshaw pullers further into poverty. Mass slum clearances have driven workers, such as those in domestic service, away from their place of work and pushed many into crime, the report said. "When the urban poor are pushed away from the place of his/her livelihood, the result is complete loss of livelihood. As a result, many of the poor are pushed into crime."
Finally, in Surfing the Slum, Express India reveals that 92 percent of the workers in the country are employed in the informal sector.

No comments: