Informal Sector

Informal Sector

The Informal sector is the category which is largely unregulated and unregistered, also falling outside government regulations. There is a high risk involved in the sector. The risk is not only in terms of occupation but also the vulnerability factors such as precarious housing, low quality nutrition, a lack of basic health services. Although not all informal economy is poor, but a significant proportion of poor are in informal economy. (Organisation, Informal Economy : A Hazardous Activity )

“According to a report by International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2018 about 81% of the employed people are in informal sector.”

An Unheard Story

Background(Informal Sector)

In order to understand the situation an interview was conducted. Mr. Kalu Bhai Kalasua, or as we call him “KAKA”, is an informal worker(Informal Sector) in the house that I stay. He is a 64-year-old, lean and thin man. He always seems happy and does his work quietly and honestly. As mentioned, he is a quite person until you start a conversation with him. Kaka originates from Rajasthan, where he started working at the age of 10. His house there was a Thatch house while it was a joint family where they had to work at such a small age to support his family. The earnings were not enough, hence he moved to Ahmadabad in 1977 at a age of 12 for better opportunities. he had his elder brother to support him in Ahmadabad, who provided him shelter. Kaka started his work with a sugarcane juice hawker, where he used to wash glasses. After this, while he was growing up, he switched to a Tent house which used to set up Pandaals for marriages in different Hotels. here, the owner cheated, and did not pay him for years. After his marriage, he and his wife started working as domestic help in residential houses in the nearby areas. As Kaka understood the importance of education during his life span, he made sure all his children study including the girl. Now, that the kids also grew up and completed their high school they started working after that.

It is clearly seen that the social capital in this case helped kaka to set up himself. As of that age he needed a guidance, which he got and was able to earn a livelihood. while there were situations where his wife and child fell ill, he had friends and people here he used to work to support them both financially and emotionally.

Kaka started working a very small age, so he didn’t get time to get any skills. He also mentions that he did not study which is the reason he ended up doing domestic work at different places. The human capital is defined by the skills, experience, abilities and good health. Kaka and family did have a good health but with no measured skills he gained a lot of experience and abilities to stand by in any type of situation. The social capital and financial capital both get effected by the human capital as seen in the case of kaka. Because of his social capital and he was able to raise his financial capital and rise of social capital was only possible because of the human capital.

The house in which the family currently lives in is a house on rent and a temporary roof which is not a safe building to live. During rainy reason the water comes inside the house. Kaka does not want to shift in a better building that is owned because if they do have to pay the taxes.  The physical infra structure lays an important role in a sustainable livelihood approach. Their house is location in a posh area and has healthy surroundings.

Support from Government(Informal Sector story)

In Rajasthan, kaka has a yellow card. With the card he gets ration from the government, but that is not enough for the family. Under congress they used to get 25kg of wheat. The process was too long that not everyone was able to get it. The approvals were needed from the office in Delhi.  In Ahmadabad, he was eligible for the pension that government gives under Atal pension yojana. But being able to have sufficiently fulfilling the needs of family he doesn’t take it.

Informal Sector
Sustainability Livelihood Pentagon Showing the current situation of Kaka

Here, the capitals are based on indicators.

  1. The natural indicator is based on access to land and resources, environmental quality and land productivity.
  2. The human capital is based on skills, education and state of health.
  3. The financial capital is based on Income generating capacities, access to government programs and savings.
  4. The physical capital is based on access to house and security, clean water and other basic facilities, access to public vehicles.
  5. The social capital based on the networks and connections, gender perspective and relation of trusts with people.

The pentagon clearly states that the family has social capital as the most valuable asset. This can be justified from different events,

  1. The time when kaka got job in pandaals and he was helped by a man, Manohar Lal.
  2. The second incident when his wife got ill people helped him in his time of despair.
  3. The third when his eldest son had to get operated for stone.
  4. Kaka allowed his wife and daughter to work, which shows his unbiasedness towards gender
  5. He gave equal right to his daughter to study that he gave to his sons.

The other capitals being financial and human capitals that lie next to the social capital. If the physical capital is considered that is the least with the family.

The financial capital can be justified from the incidents:

  1. When kaka mentions he has enough money to marry his daughter.
  2. When he mentions about the Pension Yojana.

The human capital can be justified from the incidents:

  1. Kaka’s age and incidents shared, tells about his experiences in life.
  2. For education kaka isn’t educated while he made his children study.
  3. Everyone in the family is in healthy condition.

Role of Housing

Housing is a component of physical capital which are required for sustainable livelihood. The housing in this case is not owned by the people but it is not the prime focus for the family. According to them, they can manage, and the house is enough as four members have a better place to live.

While kaka was working in pandaals he used to live in Lal Bangla area Ahmedabad. That place was near by to the tent house he lived in but the house was very small and the family was growing big. Soon after this place with the help of one the families that his wife used to work in, they found a place in Navrangpura where his wife already used to work. When he got out of job from the tent house he started work as domestic help in Navrangpura. And because of the houses mainly in Navrangpura they searched for a bigger house here and found one.

In this case, the first trade off was made during the Lal Bangla house between the workplace of kaka while the wife had to travel a little to get to his work. Then the major shit to the house in Navrangpura was because of the workplaces of wife while finding of work by kaka too in the same location.

With all the details and explanation of kaka’s life at different points it can be understood how at different stages, he had to cope up with different situation. The different factors of vulnerability affect each other as well the sustainability livelihood of the family. Kaka was able to get over the basic requirements and give his children a better and more comfortable life.

The Story of Kaka, is the most usual one. All the people are vulnerable, but the people in the informal sector are the most vulnerable. Yes, many steps have been taken by the government to protect this section of the society but it us too, the commons and the planners to take a moment to look at their plight and help in the upliftment of the country. More the people support each other, more we can grow.

Ishti Sharma

An architect and Urban Housing Planner, trying to uncover thoughts of unspoken through writing!

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2 thoughts on “Informal Sector

  1. Great accessment and good initiative to spread the information on the vulnerability of informal sector.

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