Jeevika Campaign organized a Panel Discussion on ‘Informal Economy: Law, Liberty & Livelihood’ on 27 August 2011, Saturday from 2:15 to 3:15 PM in India Habitat Centre,New Delhi. We had Mr. Suryamani Raul (Vice President – Livelihood at Access Development Services), Mr. Arbind Singh (Coordinator NASVI and Executive Director of Nidan), Dr. Parth J. Shah (President of Centre for Civil Society) in the panel to bring important aspects of informal economy in the discussion and Amit Chandra (Jeevika Campaign Coordinator) to moderate the discussion. The panel discussion was an attempt to create a platform for open discussion on the livelihood challenges of people working in informal economy and building up consensus on the way forward.

Mr. Suryamani Raul in his talk tried to portray the picture of livelihood condition in rural and urbanIndia. He emphasized on potential and opportunities in the informal economy which needs to be recognized and strengthened. He also mentioned the need to bring financial inclusion and creating new market for the product and services available in informal economy.

Dr. Parth J. Shah talked about liberty status in informal economy. He explained the reasons for people in informal economy not going up in the economy ladder. He said that not having proper regulatory framework is forcing people to remain in poverty. He told that the parts of economy which have been reformed are doing well than before such as banking, aviation and telecommunication and there is need to reform the informal sector as well. He also mentioned about the huge corruption in informal economy because of illegality of business.

Mr. Arbind Singh spoke on the status of law in informal sector. He said that there are several flaws in the laws which apply on informal sector and there are also laws conflicting with each other as well. He emphasized on the need of powerful laws by Government of India. Giving example of street vending he said that there isn’t one single department and scheme that deals with street vending. Only a few states have been able to make legislation for poor street vendors.A streetvendor needs to run from pillar to post today to get his/her evicted goods back from Municipal Corporation. He said that in lack of proper regulatory framework, people in informal sector are compelled to operate illegally which creates the entire problem that poor people have to face to survive.

There was also a Question & Answer session after the talk by all the panelists to respond to the concerns raised by the audience. The discussion was moderated by Amit Chandra.

Here are few pictures of the panel discussion: