India’s ‘Informal Sector’: Demystifying a Problematic Concept

  • Timothy Kerswell
  • Surendra Pratap


The concept of the informal sector has come to prominence, particularly after India’s liberalization. This chapter demystifies the idea of informality in India, revealing the multilayered existence of various groups of workers in vulnerable positions which are the product of India’s history and political economy. Accordingly, certain interventions can transform the lives of India’s unorganized workers, but such policy would need to target the specific needs of each unorganized group of workers. The concept and discourse of the informal sectors imply the permanence of unorganized, unregulated work. Conceptualizing Indian labor in this way leads to a position that the state should provide welfare measures to help workers survive at a bare minimum level, and a fundamental failure to address structural causes of workers’ vulnerabilities.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy Kerswell
    • 1
  • Surendra Pratap
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Government and Public AdministrationUniversity of MacauTaipaMacao
  2. 2.Center for Workers EducationNew DelhiIndia

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