Social security in South Asia

A migrant family displaying their membership card with Andhra Pradesh Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board.

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The importance of social security in India’s national decent work agenda has been highlighted by the ILO constituents (government, workers’ and employers’ organizations) who have made it a Country Programme Priority in the Decent Work Country Programme for India 2023-27.

A very large portion of India’s labour force is in the informal economy. These informal economy workers have little or no access to basic social security coverage. While India made some progress in achieving a basic level of income security and medical care for all citizens, policy-makers are facing a number of challenges, including closing the coverage gap, improving governance of social protection schemes, and creating the necessary fiscal space to fund social protection policies.

The ILO’s activities have focused on enabling the constituents to develop, strengthen and manage comprehensive national social security systems that provide access to adequate benefits for all, so as to reduce the vulnerability of workers throughout their lives. The work follows a multi-pronged strategy:
  1. Promoting the implementation of the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) through awareness-raising and dialogue.
  2. Building the capacity of governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations to design, implement and manage national social protection floor policies and programmes.
  3. Supporting the implementation of national social protection floors through technical cooperation, advisory services and promoting the exchange of best practices, including south-south exchange.
In South Asia, the ILO offers technical and advisory services on the extension of social protection to the tripartite constituents. In each national situation the framework for the ILO’s assistance is provided by the relevant Decent Work Country Programme.

Key resources

  1. A Social Protection Floor for India

    9 October 2013

    This study is an invaluable reference for professionals and practitioners working in the field of social security, in particular policy-makers and regulators in India. It is also intended for persons who assist practitioners such as technical assistance providers and donors.

  2. World Social Protection Report 2020-22

    The report presents the latest social security trends and provides information on social protection systems, coverage, benefits and expenditures in more than 190 countries.

  3. ILO Portal on Social Protection

    ILO’s global webpage on Social Protection