Gig: Questions and Opportunities

In the last two years, there has been an increase in self-employment in India. One of the main reasons for this is that many people have started working in the gig economy after leaving permanent jobs. This is either because of unemployment or the desire to work independently. A significant number of youth are involved in it. Gig business is a new form of micro-enterprise. A ‘gig’ is an on-demand job of largely temporary nature. According to reports, the gig economy is growing at a rate of 17 percent in India. In just two years, this economy will create new opportunities for self-employment to 35 crore people.

There are many reasons for the popularity that gigs receive. Post COVID-19 many companies prefer part-time workers over permanent workers. This is because they find it convenient to hire workers, consultants, temporary workers for specific tasks and take their responsibility until the work is complete. On the other hand, employees also find more freedom due to work from home. They are able to prioritize their family too. Hence, they prefer such contractual or consultancy type of work. This is increasing the number of micro entrepreneurs in the country. For example, a computer expert who used to work for a single computer company can now work independently for different companies, as per demand. He/she may get relative time flexibility too. Similarly, if one leaves work for a project, they don’t get stuck in other obligations. In this platform economy, there are many platforms like Uber, Zomato, Dunzo, Amazon, Urban Company, Helper, Urban Clap, Up Work Freelance, Guru, Smart Pooja, etc. They provide a variety of services like training, home repair, priesthood, etc. Platforms like Uber, Zomato, Urban Club, earn on commission basis, while Up Work Freelance price their services by directly interacting with customers.

The issues arising out of these newly created systems are also different. It is essential to have some social scheme for registered professionals and more regulation for such platforms. Self-employment generated in this sector is the reason for the increase in the number of micro entrepreneurs in the country. Sometimes, these professionals are also exploited by digital platforms. There is no guarantee of welfare, security, pension etc. due to the fact that professionals are not tied to a job. Recently, the government has announced schemes like health insurance for gig workers. However, many questions still remain unanswered. This is because some people are opposed to including these professionals as entrepreneurs in the micro sector. These professionals often enter the business on a temporary basis, taking up part-time business to supplement income. Therefore, many are of the opinion that this self-employment sector and gig business should not be counted even in the MSME service sector. But if these self-employed, part-time businesses are successful, these same gig entrepreneurs can go into full-time business. Also, in this business there is no success without gaining customer preference, loyalty, time management, entrepreneurship, etc. Therefore, instead of discouraging this sector, it should be looked at more seriously.

This article by Dr. Lalitagauri Kulkarni was originally published in Marathi in Sakal Newspaper on October 3, 2023.