Welfare for Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) on a digital public infrastructure
The Covid pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns severely affected the migrant workers in India, as their livelihoods came to a standstill and they had to migrate back to their villages. The total migrant population in the country is ~10 cr specifically related to livelihoods in the informal sector. The details of these migrants are normally available in scattered aggregates across industries, locations, states, and departments.
Even in a normal (Non-crisis) scenario, these workers are vulnerable to uncertain incomes from their informal jobs, handling sudden medical emergencies, supporting their families, and all the other vagaries of an informal job market.
The governments at the State & Center have instituted the BOCW act to support migrant workers through various schemes across their life stages. Under the Act, the workers are entitled to multiple entitlements, including social security benefits, Maternity benefits, Financial assistance for a daughter’s marriage, Critical illness benefit, scholarships for children, Funeral assistance, etc. The approximate fund balance in all State Welfare Boards as of 31 March 2021 is around INR 40,000 crore. As per the current process, the workers can avail of these entitlements by registering for a BOCW card. Out of the estimated 5 crore construction workers in India, less than 3.5 crore workers have BOCW cards, as of 14 July 2020.
To bring relevant technological interventions to bear on the problem that policy is trying to solve both in terms of coverage and contextualization. This is achieved through close monitoring of effects, feedback, and process – to ensure that the integrity of the intervention is supported.
This approach does not explicitly rely on innovation as a pathway but instead focuses on building the capabilities of the system to support the intervention with the objective of making it replicable & scalable.
Blockchain-enabled welfare entitlements delivery for BOCW
The key incubatee of the VREV foundation will be a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) foundation, whose objective is to improve the infrastructure for governance in India at scale. This will be implemented by bringing together the ecosystem of Issuers (Organizations that issue credentials, the Labor department in the case of BOCW), Holders (Migrant workers), and Verifiers (Any welfare disbursement agency). Application developers will be hosted by our incubation center to create applications that are context specific to the intervention under consideration by different welfare agencies.
In line with schemes like On Nation One Ration Card that can be accessed anywhere in India, enabling BOCW entitlements on a mobile device in a safe and secure mode will enable migrant workers to access relief across geographies.