e-Shram was launched by the Union government on August 26 to register 380 million disorganized sector workers free of charge at joint service centers (CSCs), work facilitation centers and state seva kendras or through self-registration. Within three months of launch, over 91 million – or 24 percent – of the expected 380 million were registered on 25 November. More than half work in the agricultural sector – India’s largest employer.
Since its launch, some states have registered more workers than others. Nearly one in four registrations was reported in West Bengal (23 percent), followed by Uttar Pradesh (19 percent), Odisha (13 percent) and Bihar (11 percent). All four have reported a higher share of the total registrations than their share of the total workforce aged 15-59 years, according to the periodic labor force survey 2019-20 annual report. Other states have, on average, registered less than 2 percent of their total workforce aged 15-59 years.
However, the exercise has its limitations. It is focused on creating a database of workers and does not provide clarity about social Security benefits, in addition to accident insurance, that registered workers are supposed to receive, experts say.
Furthermore, mandatory Aadhaar-based mobile connection shows a barrier to registration of many workers, and biometric authentication on CSCs is problematic. In addition, the portal no longer shares data on registrants migrant workers.