Estimation of Women Beedi Workers in India and Their Socio-economic Condition

Abstract

Women workers continue in the beedi industry due to the unavailability of alternative livelihoods though they are vulnerable and exploited. This remains a poorly understood field of research due to the unavailability of reliable data, which is an obstacle to the effective implementation of various policies and schemes. Even, the number of beedi worker reported by the Ministry of Labour and Employment contains significant discrepancies. These data show that the registered beedi workers have increased in India with a significant decline in the Southern States in the last two decades. We estimate the women beedi employees at the state and district levels and also assess their socio-economic status. We find that the number of women beedi workers in the registered firms has increased in India including the Southern States, and about 80% of beedi workers are women and mainly living in the rural areas. Further, we find that while West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have the highest number of beedi workers, the highest share of women in the total beedi workforce is found in Andhra Pradesh (95%), Karnataka (91%), and Tamil Nadu (84%). The majority of women beedi workers are illiterate with a lower wage than men’s. The minority mainly Christian followers are significant compared to their population share, and the OBC category is significant among the women beedi workers. More than 90% of the women beedi rollers do not have written job contracts and are not eligible for paid leaves or social security.

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Fig. 1

Source: Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India

Fig. 2

Source: Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India

Fig. 3

Source: Calculated using ASI firm-level data of CSO

Fig. 4

Source: Calculated from unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 5

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 6

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 7

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 8

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 9

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Fig. 10

Source: Unit level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Notes

  1. 1.

    LWOs administer welfare funds under the: (1) Beedi Workers’ Welfare Fund Act, 1976; (2) Cine Workers’ Welfare Fund Act, 1981; and (3) Limestone & Dolomite Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1972. These funds are financed by the cess on consumption, production of minerals, manufacture of beedis and production of feature films.

  2. 2.

    https://fpibengaluru.karnataka.gov.in/info-1/Gender+Budget/Gender+Budget/en.

  3. 3.

    The ASI report covers only the factories registered under Sections 2(m) (i) and 2(m) (ii) of the Factories Act, 1948 including all beedi and cigar manufacturing establishments, which are registered under the Bidi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966. These data exclude home-based workers.

  4. 4.

    The labour Input Method (LIM) of the National Accounts Statistics is on UPSS. There is wider agreement on its use to measure employment (RBI 2020; Sundaram 2009).

  5. 5.

    See, https://clc.gov.in/clc/node/645.

  6. 6.

    The notified wage rate of beedi workers ranges between Rs. 142 and Rs. 160 in West Bengal (ILO 2018).

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Acknowledgements

This research work was supported through a project to AF Development Care, New Delhi, by The Foundation for a Smoke Free World (FSFW), USA. The authors are benefitted from the comments by Dr. Bibek Debroy, the Chairman of the PM's Economic Council, Government of India, Dr. Derek Yach, former Executive Director, World Health Organization (WHO) and President, FSFW and Dr. Ehsan Latif, Vice President, Grant Management and Stakeholder Engagement, FSFW.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Figs. 11, 12 and Table 10.

Fig. 11
figure11

Source: Unit-level data of NSSO (68/10), NSSO (2013)

Beedi workers by gender and household type (%).

Fig. 12
figure12

Source: Calculation using ASI firm level data of CSO

Wage & welfare expenditure in % of production cost & sales in registered beedi firms in 2015–16.

Table 10 Number of workers in the beedi sector (2011–12)

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Mallick, J., Satpathy, S. Estimation of Women Beedi Workers in India and Their Socio-economic Condition. Ind. J. Labour Econ. 64, 499–521 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41027-021-00320-2

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Keywords

  • Tobacco
  • Poverty
  • Beedi workers
  • Informal sector
  • Home-based work
  • Household analysis
  • Vulnerability

JEL Classification

  • L66
  • I3
  • J5
  • J7
  • R2