Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector


This report “is focused on the informal or the unorganised economy which accounts for an overwhelming proportion of the poor and vulnerable population in an otherwise shining India. It concentrates on a detailed analysis of the conditions of work and lives of the unorganised workers consisting of about 92 percent of the total workforce of about 457 million (as of 2004-05). For most of them, conditions of work are utterly deplorable and livelihood options extremely few. Such a sordid picture coexists uneasily with a shining India that has successfully confronted the challenge of globalisation powered by increasing economic competition both within the country and across the world….” It found, among other things, that: “At the end of 2004-05, about 836 million or 77 percent of the population were living below Rs. 20 a day and constituted  most of India’s informal economy.”

The picture the report presents is based on what was then “the latest available set of data from the Sixty-first Round of the National Sample Survey in 2004-05. This has been supplemented with data from other sources such as the Special Survey of Farmers carried out by the NSS in 2003. One of the major highlights of this Report is the existence and quantification of unorganised or informal workers, defined as those who do not have employment security, work security and social security. These workers are engaged not only in the unorganised sector but in the organised sector as well. This universe of informal workers now constitutes 92 percent of the total workforce.


  1. At the end of 2004-05, about 836 million or 77 percent of the population were living below Rs. 20 a day and constituted most of India’s informal economy

  2. About 79 percent of the informal or unorganised workers belonged to this group without any legal protection of their jobs or working conditions or social security, living in abject poverty…

  3. On January 2005, the total employment in the Indian economy (principal plus subsidiary) was 458 million, of which the unorganised sector accounted for 395 million...the unorganised sector accounted for 86 percent of total workers in 2004-05

  4. 88 percent of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 80 percent of the OBC population and 84 percent of the Muslim population belong to the poor and vulnerable group (of 836 million living on less than Rs. 20 a day).

  5. Of the 395 million unorganised sector workers, agriculture accounted for 253 million and the rest 142 million are employed are employed in the non-agriculture sector. The proportion of non-agricultural worker rose from 32 percent to 36 per ce  between 1999-2000 and 2004-05

  6. The agriculture sector consists of almost entirely unorganised workers who are mainly the self-employe (65 percent) and the casual workers (35 percent). Even in the non-agriculture sector nearly 72 percent of the workers are in the unorganised sector, an increase of 4 percentage points from 68 percent in 1999-2000

  7. Only about 0.4 percent of the unorganised sector workers were receiving benefits like Provident Fund and this proportion had not changed since 1999-2000

  8. The entire increase in employment in this period in the organised sector over this period (1999-2000 to 2004-05) has been informal in nature i.e. without any job or social security


National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, New Delhi

The Commission had the following members: Dr. Arjun K. Sengupta, Dr. K.P. Kannan, Dr. R.S. Srivastava, V.K. Malhotra, Dr. T.S. Papola and B.N. Yugandhar.


National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector
16th and 19th Floor, Jawahar Vyapar Bhavan
1, Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi 100 001


Aug, 2007