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Status of Social Protection in India

  • 07 Sep 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Regional companion report for Asia and the Pacific), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA).

For Mains: Social Security in India.

Why in News?

According to the latest report (World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Regional companion report for Asia and the Pacific) on social protection by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), only 24.4% of Indians, even fewer than Bangladesh (28.4%), are under any sort of social protection benefit.

What is Social Protection?

Social protection systems help individuals and families, especially the poor and vulnerable, cope with crises and shocks, find jobs, improve productivity, invest in the health and education of their children, and protect the aging population.

What are the Key Highlights of the Report?

  • About: The Report is a companion to the ILO’s ‘World Social Protection Report 2021-22’, that gives a regional overview of the social protection in the Asia and Pacific region.
  • Global:
    • Social Protection: It notes that Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia have 100% social protection net, while in Myanmar and Cambodia, the number stands below 10%.
    • Lower Coverage: As per the report, three out of four workers in the Asia Pacific region are not protected in the event of illness or injury sustained at work.
      • Countries with lower Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita tend to have low levels of work injury coverage for example, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan cover fewer than 5% of their workers.
    • Uneven Coverage: According to the report, as of 2020, only 46.9% of the global population was effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while the remaining 53.1% as many as 4.1 billion people were left wholly unprotected.
      • The report further notes that the large majority of the working-age population in the world 69.4%, or 4 billion people, are only partially protected or not protected at all.
    • Gender Inequality: Highlighting the inherent gender inequality in the social protection coverage, the report makes note women’s coverage lag behind men’s by a substantial 8% points.
  • Indian Perspective:
    • Low Investment in Social Protection: The report notes that owing to the relatively low investment in social protection i.e., only 24.4% of Indian population, the amounts transferred under non-contributory benefits are usually too low to provide adequate protection.
    • Disparity in Coverage: With contributory schemes typically limited to those working in the formal sector and non-contributory schemes still mostly targeted on the poorest, India's social security benefits are lower than the 5% of GDP per capita (USD 2,277).
    • Recent Initiatives: It appreciated India’s higher coverage rate achieved through a combination of contributory and non-contributory schemes through its progressive extension of coverage by combining different tiers of social protection such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA), which offers a degree of protection for informal sector workers for up to 100 days.

What are the various Indian Government Initiatives Regarding Social Security?

What is International Labour Organisation (ILO)?

  • It is the only tripartite United Nation (UN) agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States (India is a member), to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
  • Received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • Established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations.
  • Became the first affiliated specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Other Reports:
    • Social Dialogue Report.
    • World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends
    • World Employment and Social Outlook
    • World Social Protection Report
    • Global Wage Report

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. Regarding ‘Atal Pension Yojana’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2016)

  1. It is a minimum guaranteed pension scheme mainly targeted at unorganized sector workers.
  2. Only one member of a family can join the scheme.
  3. Same amount of pension is guaranteed for the spouse for life after subscriber’s death.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only 
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (c)

  • Atal Pension Yojana (APY) was announced by the Government in the 2015 Budget for the old age income security of the working poor.
  • The APY is focussed on all citizens in the unorganised sector, who have joined the National Pension System (NPS) administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme.
  • The APY focusses on all citizens in the unorganised sector in the age group of 18-40 years. Under the APY, the subscribers would receive the fixed minimum pension (`1000-5000) at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions. Hence, statement 1 is correct.
  • There is no bar on the number of members of a family joining the APY. Hence, statement 2 is not correct.
  • In case of death of subscriber, the same amount of pension will be given to his/her spouse for life. Hence, statement 3 is correct.
  • After the demise of both spouse and subscriber, the nominee will be entitled to receive the pension money that the subscriber had accumulated till 60 years of age. Therefore, option (c) is the correct answer.


Q. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effectivemechanismfor empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss.(2017)

Source: BS

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