Social security is any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income. Social security may also refer to the action programs of an organization intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments.
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- Today, a pandemic. Tomorrow, a natural disaster, a chemical spill or some socio-political unrest. There’s always some disruption around the corner. So for as long as informal jobs are the norm in our economy and as long as we cannot practically lockdown the entire country, the way ahead is to install measures to improve social security. State and society cannot throw up their hands in helplessness or stay blind to variations in vulnerability among informal workers. It must facilitate structural changes through dialogues in policy, academia and other spheres. There is no single solution, especially not just direct monetary transfers. Solutions should include, as Kerala has demonstrated, delivering meals to homes with children and the aged and creating employment insurance options for informal workers. A drivers’ association in Bengaluru has requested Karnataka to waive some part of their taxi loans during the outbreak period as a form of assistance and to help mitigate their indebtedness. The government’s advisories about restricting social contact are indeed important but such measures are economically risky for so many who face a choice between the devil and the deep-sea. Social distancing is impractical for the tens of millions without social security.
- Neethi P., How the Coronavirus Outbreak Is Also a Socio-Economic Inequality Issue, 23 March 2020, co-written with Anant Kamath, The Wire