The Rise Of Gig Economy In India & Future Ahead

Gig Economy in India

Ever since the Boston Consulting Group released the report on the high potential of the gig economy in India, the curiosity of folks has reached sky high!

Gig Economy in India



The gig economy of India is potent enough to offer over 90 million jobs, transaction of $250 billion in volume of work, and GDP growth of 1.25% in the long term.

The most astonishing fact is that 90 million jobs belong to the non-farming economy! You know that’s no less than a boon for an agricultural based economy like ours.

What I described above is just a tip of the iceberg.

The rise of the gig economy in India is going to be the fortune and prosperity of the future.

How? You may wonder!

Go through this write-up and you will find out soon!

(A) What is the Gig Economy?

Gig Economy

First of all, let’s go through the terminology. The term “Gig Economy” refers to “general workforce environment” that includes short-term employment commonly called contractual jobs.

Sounds complicated?

Let me explain it in simple terms. Have you heard of the term “Freelancing” or “Freelance.” I’m sure you did!

So what do freelancers do? They sign a contract, complete the work within a stipulated time, take the payment, and go off!

It simply means that you opt for a temporary, short-term job independent of the conventional nine-to-five office jobs.


So why is it named “Gig”? Well the term “Gig” is a slang that the musicians used to define an engagement for a specified period of time. So, the folks continued to associate this term with all sorts of temporary jobs.

I hope you understood the concept!

The Gig Economy in India as well as the globe rose exponentially. The prime factors for it are-

  • Mobile Workforce: People easily relocate themselves for livelihood.
  • Rise of Internet: With good quality internet, people can work remotely through digital platforms

This not only proves to be beneficial for workers but also a cost-effective solution for businesses or firms.

We will discuss the reasons for the rise of the gig economy in India in detail in the upcoming sections.

(B) A Brief Overview of Gig Economy in India

Can you guess how many workers are employed in the gig economy of India? 15 million! That’s a humongous figure, isn’t it?

Don’t you wonder which sectors hire the gig workforce the most? The gig workers are employed in the following industries (sectors)-

Sectors of Gig Economy in IndiaNo. of Gig Workers Employed
Retail trade and sales26.6 lakh
Transportation13 lakh
Finance and Insurance6.3 lakh
Manufacturing6.2 lakh
Education1 lakh
A Brief Overview of Gig Economy in India

You must note that the data given in the table above was released by NITI Aayog for the year 2019-20. 

Also, it stated that the gig workforce in India is one the rise with the following types of skills-

Types of skill-requiring Jobs% of Gig Workers Employed
High-Skilled Jobs22%
Medium-Skilled Jobs47%
Low- Skilled Jobs31%
Percentage of Gig Workers Employed in different types of Skill-required Jobs

So, India’s gig economy is booming, especially after the pandemic hit. Loads of companies switched to flexible setups like working from home, opening up tons of opportunities for gig workers in all sorts of fields. Believe it or not, there are more than 15 million freelancers rocking it in the tech world alone!

Guess what? 

India’s gig economy is growing like crazy, around 17% per year according to ASSOCHAM. Tech companies are jumping on the gig worker bandwagon, with about 60% of them investing in gig workers. And get this – a whopping 97% want to keep their gig workers or hire even more!

Hold on, there’s more! 

A recent report from the Boston Consulting Group spills the beans on the gig economy potential in India. We’re talking about up to 90 million jobs, a whopping $250 billion in work, and a cool 1.25% boost to the GDP. Well, I have already mentioned this fact in the introductory paragraph. Our gig workforce is even making waves on the global stage!

But here’s the scoop – if Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t pay attention to the needs of gig workers, there could be trouble. Imagine thousands of drivers and delivery folks hitting the streets, demanding better treatment. Shaik Salauddin, the president of Telangana Gig & Platform Workers Union, warns that ignoring millions of people could seriously affect the polls. 

So, the gig economy isn’t just about jobs – it’s a potential game-changer in India’s political scene!

(C) Growth Drivers: What led to the rise of the gig economy in India?

According to a report by Nasscom, the gig economy in India is on a trajectory to grow at a jaw-dropping Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17%. Brace yourself for the impressive projection of 23.5 million gig workers, eyeing a market size of a staggering $455 billion by 2023.

Ever wondered why the gig economy in India is skyrocketing? Let’s dive into the key factors that are fueling this incredible rise.

Growth Drivers of Gig Economy in IndiaDescription
Shifting away from 9-to-5 normsIn recent years, there’s a noticeable trend of individuals bidding farewell to traditional 9-to-5 jobs, embracing the flexibility and freedom that gig work offers. Freelance gigs, part-time hustles, and short-term contracts are stealing the spotlight, providing alternatives to the conventional long-term employment model.
Rise of Internet, Mobile, and TechnologyThe widespread adoption of smartphones and the availability of high-speed internet have paved the way for seamless connections between workers and businesses through online platforms. This technological leap has been a catalyst in propelling the growth of the gig economy.
Economic Liberalisation Policies at BayThe Indian government’s economic liberalisation policies have fostered increased competition and a more open market, creating an environment conducive to the flourishing gig economy.
Surging Demand for Flexible Work ArrangementsThe gig economy stands as a beacon for Indian workers seeking flexible work setups. The allure lies in the ability to strike a balance between personal and professional lives, making it particularly attractive to those craving flexibility.
Young and Ambitious Force of Demographic DynamicsThe gig economy is further propelled by the sheer number of young, educated, and ambitious Indians. Eager to enhance their livelihoods, they actively contribute to the surge in income generation.
E-commerce Boom ignites Gig OpportunitiesThe rapid growth of e-commerce in India has sparked a significant uptick in demand for delivery and logistics services. As a result, the gig economy experiences substantial growth within these sectors, establishing itself as a cornerstone in the evolving landscape of work.
Factors that led to the rise in the Gig Economy in India

Out of this, the advancement in technology is the most dominant factor in the rise of the gig economy in India. The rise of digital platforms and online marketplaces makes it easier than ever for individuals to find gigs that align with their skills and interests. These platforms act as matchmakers, connecting freelancers with clients or companies in a mutually beneficial way.

(D) Gig Employment: A Significant Part of Gig Economy in India

Ever wondered about the buzz around gig employment? Well, brace yourself because the Niti Aayog predicts a whopping 200% growth in gig jobs by 2030. It’s like a safety net drawing in millions of job-seekers, from the youth to the elderly, into this world of low-cost, low-investment labor. 

Platforms like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, and more promise ‘flexi-work,’ becoming the lifeline for those seeking sustenance.

(D.1) Caught in the Gig Web: A Closer Look at the Reality

Here’s the scoop – these platforms dub themselves ‘tech aggregators,’ ‘mediators,’ or ‘facilitators,’ avoiding the employer tag. They cleverly label workers as ‘partners’ or ‘mini-entrepreneurs’ to dodge responsibility and accountability. It’s a dance of terms, but the heart of the matter is the growing gig economy pulling in folks desperate for opportunities.

(D.2) Riding the Gig Wave: Why Young Minds are Diving in?

high unemployment and jobless growth pushing workers into the informal gig sector, where they later yearn to escape. Young guns are flocking to gig work for three main reasons: stagnant real wages, soaring urban living costs, and a lack of social security. 

It’s a tough game, with intersecting vulnerabilities forcing many to hustle longer hours and take on multiple gigs just to survive while dreaming of better, more stable jobs.

(D.3) Unexpected Twist: White-Collar Gig Opportunities on the Rise

Hold on tight – white-collar jobs are now tapping into the gig trend. A CIEL group report spills the beans, stating that a whopping 55% of organisations have welcomed gig workers into their workforce. Some even have gig workers making up a significant 20% of their total employees. It’s a game-changer, with gig employment gaining popularity among employers.

(D.4) Insider’s Take: The Shift in Work Dynamics

“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the world of work,” says Aditya Narayan Mishra, MD & CEO of CIEL. Why? Gig employment offers cost-effectiveness, scalability, and access to specialized skills. Organizations are embracing it, and individuals are jumping on the bandwagon too.

(D.5) Choosing Freedom: The Gig Worker’s Perspective

Gig workers love the flexibility, with 38% opting for gigs to work on diverse projects. According to CIEL, this allure of diverse assignments lets gig workers expand their skill sets, gain valuable experience, and follow their passion for diverse work opportunities. It’s not just a job; it’s a journey of flexibility and continuous growth. 

(E) Exploring the landscape of Gig Workers and their roles in India

Overview of Gig Economy in India

If you examine the diverse realm of gig workers in India, you will observe a broad spectrum of professions spanning various sectors.

(E.1) The Functional Essence of the Gig Economy

The gig economy plays a pivotal role as a safety net, offering millions of unemployed individuals, both young and elderly, entry into a low-cost, low-investment labor market. Platforms such as Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, Urban Company, Porter, Dunzo, BlinkIt, and others emerge as primary channels for securing subsistence through flexible work.

These platforms, often denoting themselves as ‘tech aggregators,’ ‘mediators,’ or ‘facilitators,’ strategically refrain from using the term ’employers.’ Additionally, they adopt the misclassification of workers as ‘partners’ or ‘mini-entrepreneurs,’ a tactic designed to circumvent specific responsibilities and accountability measures.

(E.2) Categorization based on the type of work

Examining the gig workforce unveils distinct categories based on the nature of their work-

  • Ride Hailing Drivers: With the ascent of cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, a substantial number of individuals have assumed roles as ride-hailing drivers, providing transportation services to passengers leveraging their own vehicles.
  • Delivery Executives: The surge in popularity of food delivery services has amplified the demand for delivery executives. Operating on bikes or scooters, these individuals ensure the seamless delivery of food from restaurants to customers’ doorsteps.
  • Freelancers: This segment encompasses self-employed professionals offering their skills and expertise on a project basis. Freelancers span diverse professions, including writers, graphic designers, web developers, translators, and others conducive to remote work.
  • Part-time Service Providers: Many individuals engage in part-time gigs alongside their regular occupations or academic pursuits to supplement their income. These roles may include event staff, tutors, fitness instructors, or pet sitters.

(E.3) Empowering Opportunities

The gig economy has ushered in numerous opportunities for individuals in India, offering heightened flexibility in determining working hours and project selection. This flexibility has, in turn, contributed to achieving a more favorable work-life balance.

(E.4) Addressing the socio-economic Gap

Moreover, the gig economy has served as a gateway for individuals seeking access to traditional employment opportunities. This avenue proves particularly crucial for those confronted with barriers such as a lack of experience or formal qualifications.

(E.5) Inherent Challenges

However, a closer inspection reveals challenges associated with the gig economy. Gig workers frequently contend with job insecurity, lack of benefits and social security, and income volatility. Distinct from their counterparts in traditional employment, gig workers operate within a framework that introduces uncertainties into their financial stability.

(E.6) Steadfast Growth Amidst Challenges

Despite these challenges, the gig economy in India remains on an upward trajectory, primarily driven by the allure of flexible earning opportunities. It has solidified its status as an integral component of the Indian labor market, affording individuals the means to leverage their skills and generate income on personalized terms.

(F) Navigating the Pros & Cons of Gig Economy in India

Ever wondered about the perks of diving into the gig economy? So, buckle up because there’s a world of advantages waiting for gig workers as well as for businesses hiring them. 

We will look into the advantages and disadvantages of the gig economy with the perspective of both workers and businesses.

(F.1) Exploring the Upsides: Advantages for Gig Workers

Advantages for Gig WorkersDetails
Flexibility in SchedulesGig workers get to set their own working hours, pick projects that spark their interest, and even work from the comfort of their own space.
Diverse Income StreamsGig workers can juggle multiple gigs simultaneously or one after another. This not only adds experiences to their work life but also diversifies their income streams.
Skill DevelopmentEngaging in various gigs opens doors to new skills, expands your knowledge base, and boosts your employability. It’s like upgrading your skills while you earn!
Advantages for Gig Workers

Thus, the gig economy isn’t just a job; it’s a stage for your entrepreneurial skills. Whether you want to start your venture or offer specialized services, the gig landscape welcomes your creativity and business savvy.

(F.2) Downside for Gig Workers: The Cons

Hold on, it’s not all sunshine. The gig journey has its bumps, and you should be aware of the challenges that come your way.

Disadvantages for Gig WorkersDescription
Unstable CareerGig work often comes with a rollercoaster of income instability and financial uncertainty. It’s the trade-off for flexibility.
Limited Benefits and PerksUnlike traditional jobs, gig workers might miss out on perks like health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. It’s the gig life – flexibility but with fewer traditional benefits.
Self EmploymentGig workers wear many hats, and one of them is handling administrative tasks. From taxes to insurance, it’s on you to manage these responsibilities that employers typically handle.
Disadvantages for Gig Workers

(F.3) Spotting the Gains: Advantages for Businesses

Now, let’s turn the spotlight on businesses. What’s in it for them when they dive into the gig pool?

Advantages for BusinessesDetails
Efficiency in SpendingFor businesses, hiring gig workers can be a smart financial move. It’s cost-effective – they only pay for the specific services they need, no extra baggage.
Access to Talented and Skilled PeopleThe gig economy brings a buffet of talent to businesses. They get access to a diverse pool of individuals with specialized skills that might not be available in-house.
Flexible WorkforceImagine the power to scale your business operations up or down based on demand. That’s what engaging gig workers allows businesses to do – a flexible workforce ready to adapt.
Advantages for Businesses hiring gig workers

(F.4) Counting the Costs: Disadvantages for Businesses

Yet, it’s not all smooth sailing for businesses either. Here are the challenges they might face in the gig economy.

Drawbacks for BusinessesDescription
Different Loyalty Program DynamicGig workers might not commit as deeply as permanent employees invested in the organization’s long-term success. It’s a balance between flexibility and loyalty.
Juggling with Permanent and Gig TeamsManaging a team that includes both permanent employees and gig workers isn’t a walk in the park. Differences in working styles and availability can pose coordination challenges.
Disadvantages of businesses hiring Gig Workers

There you have it – the gig landscape with its highs and lows.

(G) Navigating Challenges with Solutions: Roadmap of the Gig Economy in India

Go through the following sections to determine the challenges and solutions in the roadmap of Gig Economy in India-

(G.1) Challenges

First of all let’s look into the challenges of the gig economy in India-

  • The unseen struggle of job security: Many gig workers in India navigate their work without the safety net of labour codes. Health insurance and retirement plans? That’s often a missing piece for them. Unlike traditional employees, they might not have the same level of protection in case of injury or illness. It’s a tightrope walk without a safety harness.
  • Digital Divide with Tech Barrier: The gig economy dominantly works on technology and internet access. But here’s the catch – not everyone has a front-row seat. Those without access face a barrier, widening the gap in income. It’s not just about gigs; it’s about who gets to join the gig workforce through the internet.
  • Lack of Data: Ever tried solving a puzzle without all the pieces? That’s the challenge policymakers face when it comes to the gig economy in India. Without enough data, understanding its size, scope, and impact on the economy and workforce becomes a guessing game.
  • Exploitation by Companies: Gig workers sometimes draw the short straw when it comes to pay, often earning less than their traditional employee counterparts. Legal protections? They might not be on the same level. Some companies even play tricks by misclassifying gig workers to dodge liability and skip out on taxes. It’s a game where the rules aren’t always fair.
  • Social Isolation: Ever felt alone in a crowded room? That’s the reality for many gig workers. Working independently and without a physical workplace, they miss out on the social connections and support systems that traditional employees enjoy.

(g.2) Solutions

But wait – there’s a map to navigate through these challenges. Here are some solutions to tackle the hurdles in the gig economy.

  • Setting the Ground Rules with Clear Regulations: Time for some clarity! The Indian government should lay down clear regulations and policies for the gig economy. It’s about protecting gig workers and holding companies accountable for their actions.
  • Ensuring Financial Security to the Gig Workers: Let’s ensure financial security for gig workers. The government should provide access to social security programs like pension schemes and health insurance, mirroring the benefits available to traditional employees. Equal rights for equal work!
  • Boosting Skills & Earnings: Education is power, and it’s time to empower gig workers. Government investments in education and training programs will enhance their skills, opening doors to increased earning potential.
  • Fair Competition and Innovation: Level the playing field! Regulations should prevent companies from playing tricks with worker classifications, and fair trade practices must be enforced. Innovation in the gig economy can be spurred by government support – tax incentives, funding, and more for companies shaping new business models and technologies.
  • Linking Women Empowerment with gig economy: The gig economy can be a path to empowerment for women, but the road needs the right infrastructure. The government should focus on creating physical and social support systems that encourage women to actively engage in the gig workforce.

The gig journey might have its challenges, but with the right solutions, it can pave the way for a more equitable and empowering future.

(H) What is the impact of rising Gig Economy in India?

Impact of rising gig economy in India

Some of the major economic impacts are-

  • Scale of Participation: Our gig economy soaring to new heights, and guess what? India is taking the lead, outpacing even some developed economies. The participation in the gig economy here is booming, and it’s changing the game.
  • Potential Job Creation: Hold on tight – the gig economy isn’t just about jobs; it’s about a potential tidal wave of opportunities. Estimates suggest it could create up to a whopping 90 million jobs in India’s non-farm economy. That’s not just numbers; it’s a game-changer for employment dynamics.
  • Contribution to the GDP: Now, let’s talk about impact – the gig economy isn’t just a job creator; it’s a GDP booster. Projections indicate a potential contribution of 1.25 percent to India’s GDP. It’s not just about work; it’s about the economic engine getting a significant push.
  • Labor Rights Concerns: The concerns loom over the impact of gig work on labor rights. The government steps in as the guardian of humane labor standards, ensuring fairness for those navigating the gig sector. It’s a call for balance in the pursuit of economic growth.
  • Long Term Projections: Ever wondered about the long-term journey of the gig economy in India? Projections paint a vivid picture – 90 million non-farm jobs in the long run. It’s not just a snapshot; it’s a vision of sustained economic impact.

(I) Future Ahead: What is the future of the Gig Economy in India?

In conclusion, the future of the gig economy in India is undeniably promising and transformative. 

With NITI Aayog foreseeing a workforce landscape where over 23.5 million individuals engage in gig work by 2030, accounting for 7% of the non-farm workforce, and ASSOCHAM projecting the sector’s value to surpass $455 billion by 2024, the trajectory is one of substantial growth and economic impact. 

Nasscom’s report further solidifies this outlook, indicating a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17% and a market size reaching $455 billion by 2023. These projections collectively paint a vivid picture of the gig economy becoming a pivotal player in India’s economic narrative. 

As we stand on the brink of this transformative journey, the gig economy not only offers opportunities for individuals but also signifies a dynamic shift in how work is conceptualised and executed. 

The road ahead is filled with exciting prospects for those ready to embrace and navigate the evolving saga of the gig revolution!

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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