India has moved over 271 million people out of multidimensional poverty between 2006 and 2016 while halving its poverty rate. However, the analytical apparatus used to measure poverty often leaves out a significant section of households that fall in and out of poverty over time. With 85% of India’s 460 million workforce currently engaged in the unorganised sector, there is a significant proportion of the workforce vulnerable to income, livelihood, longevity and health-related shocks. The lack of or insuﬃcient access to risk protection may push these households into poverty when such risks materialise. Trends of growing informalisation of the workforce, even within the formal sector, further exacerbates these vulnerabilities.
The Social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research is a policy initiative that aims to conduct research that will inform the design and implementation of a universal social security system. We believe a universal social security system is one that protects households and individuals against the vulnerabilities faced across the life cycle. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind India’s unique demographic and economic realities. These vulnerabilities are the outcomes of complex interactions of being exposed to a threat, of a threat materializing, and of lacking the defences or resources to deal with a threat.
We approach universal social security through three themes: