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The Material and the Symbolic Intersectionalities of Home-Based Work in India

Saraswati Raju

Capital has an overarching logic of accumulation in general and yet the economic rationale, intercepted by national and local configurations of social power, makes capital unfold differentially in different spaces. The labour market provides an ideal site to interrogate such processes. In India, regional specificities are stark when it comes to the presence of women workers in the public domain, which get significantly obliterated if they are in home-based work. This is because home-based work hinges upon responsibilities of social reproduction and more importantly upon all-pervasive social norms that continue to embed women in traditional constructs of domesticity. It can be argued that in a situation where the market has to become extremely competitive and cost effective, the concept of flexible and cheap labour the bandwagon of expanding capital is best articulated through work that is carried out at homes for it can gel comfortably well, in sync with social codes, that assign women to the confines of home even if their status is that of workers.

I would like to express my thanks to the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India which has sponsored the Gender Atlas Project. Their funding has made the logistic support for this paper possible. I am thankful to my student, now a colleague, Swati Sachdev for her unstinted and continuous support in data processing. I owe gratitude to my colleague Deepak Kumar Mishra for reading the initial draft of the paper and offering constructive feedback. The anonymous review was of great help in ne-tuning some of the arguments. The usual disclaimers apply. Saraswati Raju ( is with the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

he concept of boundaries has been extensively used in the work-family literature. Boundaries are socially constructed in articial and arbitrary ways. Structurally speaking, however, activities formally designated as work and the activities associated with domestic matters often take place in separate spaces. It would be of interest, therefore, to see how when formal work takes place in informal spaces at home, the conceptual and geographic boundaries, largely used for categorising the domestic and public domains, overlap. Alternatively, the home spaces may transcend the rigidly dened connes of forewalls. Under such circumstances, the ways in which the home based workers are often identied in the ofcial discourses provide some fuel to theoretically problematise the assumed conception of home and homebased workers. The segmentation theories pick up on neo-liberal restructuring and decentralisation as ways to explain the recent labour market outcomes. A sociocultural discourse, however, uses the interfacing of work with spatial specicities to showcase how economic processes intertwine with (particular) places to produce labour market identities. Place assumes a permeated meaning in such articulations (Bauder 2001). It is well known that in India, work in the public domain is regionally circumscribed with a clearly visible divide between the northern states and the southern ones. The reasons for this have been variously theorised and argued for and are too well known to obviate the need for explanation here (Raju 2011). In contrast, home-based work seems to have a pervasive as well as comparable presence throughout the country irrespective of regional specicities that inuence women workers visibility in public domains. Why this should be so is a tricky question and yet it can be postulated that women who are home-based workers, at whichever level they were to be placed, can be conceptualised as trapped in socially encoded constructs that essentialise womens primary location within the domestic sphere. Such a framing serves a dual purpose: the socially sanctioned norms for women primarily anchored within the homes remain uncontested and, therefore, stay within the comfort zones of patriarchal structures and the capitalist logic of cost-cutting of the labour for optimal prot can also be achieved. This is to argue that in a situation where the market has to become extremely competitive and cost effective, it ser ves the interests of the capital to explicate the prevailing social and gendered constructs which are almost all encompassing.
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Very often gender is seen as symbolic and socially-constructed whereas class is largely associated with material inequality. Gender invokes discussion around differential treatment that men and women receive, the stereotypical assignment of responsibilities conned to private and public domains, womens worth and value, etc, somewhat encapsulated in the notion of status. However, as Anthias (2001) observes the social relations that these attributes convey are usually not seen as constitutive of social stratication itself. She argues that rather than seeing the material and the symbolic at the polar ends of the spectrum, the material inequality (reected through life conditions and chances) can be posited as informed by claims and struggles over socially valued resources and social places/ locations. Marriage, for example, works in a differentiated manner for men and women. Home-based work provides an ideal site for interrogating these propositions as it opens up ways to explain (a) why home-based work in India is all pervasive ignoring the regional specicities that are otherwise so clearly visible in womens workforce participation rates in public domains outside the homes, (b) why the home-based workers in India are overwhelmingly represented by illiterate or lowly literate sections of workers and that of marginal groups, and (c) why home-based women workers are overwhelmingly married; in fact, it can be argued that the characteristic features of home-based workers are such that their spatial mobility ceases to have signicant role to play in economic outcomes (Kantor 2002). The main argument that runs though the paper is as follows: various sociocultural and economic attributes of gendered identity interact at multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic push of women to home-based work. Whether or not the increasing tendency of large rms to subcontract to small rms part of work traditionally carried out in formal sector being transferred to informal sector represents the exploitative nature of the labour market or a more efcient form of production may be a debatable issue (Rani and Unni 2009).1 However, drawing upon the unprotected nature of home-based work and the caste, class and ethnic intersectionalities that essentialise it, I posit that homebased work can easily be seen as an epitome of symbolic and material marginalisation; symbolic in the sense of not only echoing the ground realities regarding gendered norms at large, but also legitimising the material marginalities questioning, in the process, several scholarly preoccupations with rituals/symbolic values/meanings at the expense of material conditions, i e, ideality and reality (to the extent the latter can be captured) in our lives (Raju 2011). The discussion is organised in three sections. The introductory section is followed by an analysis of overlapping vulnerabilities of home-based workers in terms of caste, class, ethnic locations, educational level and occupational avenues. The last part concludes the discussion, pointing out how even in an otherwise marginalised segment of labour market, the locational nature of labour remains highly gendered.
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Home-Based Workers and Multiple Vulnerabilities It is well know that the Indian labour market has shown oscillating trends in the overall workforce participation rates in general and that of women in particular. While the 2004-05 National Sample Survey Ofce (NSSO) data were lauded for having shown an increase in the workforce participation rates of women, the recent data for 2009-10 show some decline. This decline has been variously explained by scholars. Some attribute the 2004-05 increase in womens workforce participation rates to the peculiar distress conditions during that year, which if ignored as aberration, would see the recent decline in 2009-10 as in keeping with the secular trend of declining workforce rate amongst women in general (Abraham 2009; Himanshu 2011; Rangarajan et al 2011). It has also been suggested that the most recent decline has been because of increased enrolment of girls/women in educational institutes (Mehrotra, Gandhi, Sahoo and Saha 2012) a position that has been contested as untenable as the decline in their workforce participation is not in the age-cohorts that can be enrolled in educational institutes (Kannan and Raveendran 2012). Notwithstanding these discussions, there are a few dimensions of labour market characteristics that appear to sustain even as the absolute levels of workforce participation rates may vary. One such aspect is the predominance of self-employed amongst the workers. It is important to note in this context that all self-employed workers are not home-based nor are all home-based workers self-employed although establishments such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) divide workers primarily as self-employed or wage workers. However, in countries like India, this dichotomy does not capture the complexities of home-based workers. The Indian workers who are based at home are not autonomous and self-contained individuals as assumed in the western constructs. From the gendered perspective, this is an important issue because the available data show that the proportion of home-based workers amongst the self-employed is overwhelmingly skewed towards women (Table 1). Even if the economic arguments were to treat these workers as independent workers on the
Table 1: Self-employed Workers (15-59 Years) in India (2004-05 and 2009-10)
Self-employed Workers 2004-05* Men Women 2009-10** Men Women

Rural India Urban India Home-based amongst self-employed workers (rural) Home-based amongst self-employed workers (urban) Home-based unpaid family workers amongst home-based self-employed (rural) Home-based unpaid family workers amongst home-based self-employed (urban)

47.6 42.3

75.7 46.1

41.4 38.6

58.8 40.3

29.4* 74.5* 19.5 69.2

17.0* 46.5** 32.0* 82.6** 13.1 59.9 22.9 74.5





18.3 43.1





20.2 34.5

2009-10* home-based workers reporting location of work as their own dwelling unit; 2009-10** home-based workers include those reporting location of work as own dwelling unit, structure attached to own dwelling unit, open area adjacent to own dwelling unit, detached structure adjacent to own dwelling unit. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

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as existential responses from men and women. In general, women seem to have a much broader idea of what constiMinimum - 1.2 (Arunachal Pradesh) Minimum - 4.2 (Northern Upper Ganga) Maximum - 39.5 (Maharashtra Eastern) tutes the dwelling (home Maximum - 63.4 (Maharashtra Eastern) India - 12.5 in case of home-based workers). India - 26.6 Clearly, the so-called homebased work takes place beyond home in adjoining spaces, not surprisingly more so in rural locations as the rural data (for the years under observation) suggest even if home-based Per cent work has been dened as tak61.3 30-40 ing place in womens own 20-30 Per cent 10-20 50-65 dwelling. <10 35-50 inadequate sample 20-35 One of the reasons for <20 Data not available higher home-based workforce 1 centimetre = 1,75,940 metres 1 centimetre = 1,75,940 metres participation rates for women basis of their location in the production system, depending in rural India is that the boundary between the feminine inupon the arrangements, home-based work can be treated as side (of non-work) and the masculine outside (of work) is completely independent or as being trapped in perpetual not xed the boundaries separating the two are often blurred dependency. Theoretically also, home-based work may range and overlapping because much of the agricultural activities from high-end new generation work to petty production or are carried out within the connes of dwellings and their expanses. Table 2 presents an interesting comparative picture in contractual work. Let me turn to what is home in home-based work. The this regard. question pertaining to location of workplace was not uni- Table 2: Shares of Self-employed Home-Based Workers (15-59 Years) formly canvassed for all individuals, both in the 61st and the in India (2004-05 and 2009-10: Total) 2004-05 2009-10 2009-10 66th rounds of the NSSO surveys. As for the workers in sectors State (Own Dwelling) ( Own Dwelling) (Additional Options)* such as manufacturing and services, etc, they were asked the Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total question about the location of work. The question was also Jammu & Kashmir 28.1 91.2 45.9 18.8 31.4 23.7 18.0 65.9 36.9 asked to those engaged in agriculture, hunting and related Punjab 17.7 78.4 50.0 12.1 49.7 30.4 11.7 41.9 26.4 service activities (Division 01 of Industrial Classication 1998 Haryana 17.3 82.8 50.9 10.7 40.4 24.2 9.3 45.0 25.6 and 2004). However, those engaged in (a) farming of animals, Rajasthan 25.9 76.8 46.6 17.2 51.8 28.5 11.6 33.4 18.7 (b) agricultural and animal husbandry service activities (ex- Uttar Pradesh 29.7 83.0 47.8 18.3 56.5 27.0 11.2 30.5 15.6 23.9 79.0 39.9 16.2 66.1 28.7 15.7 16.8 16.0 cept veterinary activities), and (c) hunting, trapping and game West Bengal 27.0 68.4 40.6 19.3 54.4 28.9 11.7 26.0 15.6 propagation including related service activities were excluded Odisha Madhya Pradesh 26.4 63.8 34.2 21.0 60.4 29.2 8.9 9.3 9.0 from such a query.2 18.6 63.4 36.6 9.7 39.2 17.0 14.4 43.4 21.6 The difculty in temporal comparison of home-based work- Gujarat 21.7 64.3 32.0 13.5 49.4 22.4 12.2 24.4 15.2 ers arises primarily because of the ways location of work- Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh 30.7 64.2 44.0 20.8 55.1 32.5 14.0 18.8 15.7 place has been dened in the latest NSS rounds. In the 2004-05 Karnataka 27.1 75.3 43.4 10.4 55.4 22.2 13.8 20.1 15.4 NSS, own dwelling unit was how the location of workplace Kerala 16.7 65.9 34.7 9.8 32.3 16.9 9.6 44.8 20.7 for home-based workers was identied. In 2009-10, however, Tamil Nadu 27.7 69.0 44.9 16.0 51.2 28.1 16.5 27.3 20.2 home-based workers could report location of work as own India 24.5 73.1 40.8 15.1 50.7 24.5 12.4 29.4 16.9 dwelling unit, structure attached to own dwelling unit, open 2009-10* home-based workers include those reporting location of work as structure area adjacent to own dwelling unit, detached structure adja- attached to own dwelling unit, open area adjacent to own dwelling unit, detached structure adjacent to own dwelling unit. cent to own dwelling unit. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, In principle, own dwelling unit of 2004-05 should be com- Schedule 10, 2004-05, 2009-10. parable with own dwelling unit of 2009-10, but this is not Identifying Regional Patterns the case (Table 1).
Map 1: Women Workers (15-59 Years) in Principal Status (2009-10) Map 2: Women Workers (15-59 Years) in Subsidiary Status (2009-10)

The current decline in workers at their own dwellings can perhaps partly be in keeping with the general decline in workforce participation rate over the period and yet the 200910 reduction in home-based women workers is too stark to be explained by such a phenomenon alone. It is quite obvious that own dwelling has elicited very differently perceived as well

The Indian labour market seems to have undoubtedly drawn on the pool of cheap labour of women almost in all spheres of work and yet, as mentioned earlier, socially encrypted and regionally embedded gendered codes that characterise south Asia in general and India in particular, result in spatially differentiated outcomes whereby the north Indian plain reveals
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Map 3: Women Principal and Subsidiary Workers (15-59) (Excluding Home- Based Workers) (2009-10)

Maximum - 46.53 Minimum - 3.33 India - 20.58

choices in this regard (Ghosh 2002). However, states having comparable levels of home-based work include Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh where (export) linkages with external markets are either weak or absent. The all-encompassing pervasive presence of home-based work throughout the country is indicative of two distinguishable key drivers of economy: (a) outsourcing/exible production regimes in a globalising context, and (b) traditional notions regarding womens place in domestic sphere. It can be argued that, in India, the concept of exible and cheap labour the bandwagon of expanding capital national as well as global is best articulated through home-based work. Capital not only sits quite comfortably in sync with pre-existing gendered codes assigning women to the connes of domesticity, it makes it more durable even if womens status is that of workers.
Class and Caste Variation

Per cent
NA <20 20.01-25 25.01-30 >30

1 centimetre = 1,75,940 metre

consistently lower work participation rates as compared to the rest of the country. It is of interest to note that this pattern does not change even when women in subsidiary status are considered although the latter component has a much wider and sporadic spread (Maps 1 and 2, p 62). The situation is not very different from the earlier (2004-05) scenario (Raju 2010). Graphs 1 and 2 (p 64) are to be viewed in conjunction with the maps. Maps 1 and 3 very clearly show a regional pattern marked by the womens low work participation in labour market in principal status as well as both principal and subsidiary status excluding the home-based work in the north Indian plain. Such a regionally marked pattern is conspicuous by its absence when it comes to home-based workers: their per cent shares across states do not differ much with the exception of the north-eastern states and Chhattisgarh. Not only are the levels of home-based, amongst self-employed women workers, much higher than their male counterparts, the coefcient of variation (CV) over space is much lower in case of rural and urban women with the CVs of 22.1 and 17.0 respectively. The corresponding rural and urban values for men are 33.4 and 20.7.3 One can expect home-based work to be concentrated in industrial states which are in the process of being linked with global production system through export-oriented manufacturing activities such as food processing, textile, garment and related trades where subcontracting is common.4 If so, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are obvious
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Theoretically, those working out of home may belong to higher income categories such as doctors, chartered accountants, architects, lawyers and so on.5 Recent trends worldwide, particularly in the developed world, show a tendency towards home-based work, particularly in the information and technology (IT) sectors in which women are overwhelmingly represented. However, the Indian scene is somewhat different. Although in recent decades both men and women have recourse largely to selfemployment, the similarity ends there as men and women occupy different spaces as self-employed in the occupational hierarchy. Not only are more women than men home-based, their demographic prole, educational levels, caste composition and the occupational structure tell us a story of overlapping vulnerabilities that are more serious than their male counterparts. The disparate educational levels between men and women are evident (Table 3). The overview of the educational qualications of those who are home-based is sufcient to propose that most home-based workers, because of their illiterate or semi-literate status, would be at the lower end of the job hierarchy.
Table 3: Educational Levels of Home-Based Workers (15-59 Years) in India (2009-10)
Illiterate/Below School Above School Total Primary Education Education

Rural Self-employed men workers Self-employed women workers Home-based men workers amongst self-employed Home-based women workers amongst self-employed Urban Self-employed men workers Self-employed women workers Home-based men workers amongst self-employed Home-based women workers amongst self-employed

29.7 56.8 31.8 56.8 16.7 37.5 18.7 36.2

63.4 41.4 62.1 41.4 63.0 50.7 64.5 53.8

6.9 1.8 6.2 1.8 20.3 11.8 16.8 10.0

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Only those self-employed workers have been considered in this analysis to whom the question pertaining to location of workplace was canvassed. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

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Graph 1: Home-Based Workers among Self-employed Workers (Rural, 2009-10)
0 Jammu and Kashmir Punjab Uttarakhand Haryana Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh Gujarat Himachal Pradesh Percentage of workers West Bengal India Maharashtra Union territories Percentage of workers Jharkhand Kerala Odisha Tamil Nadu Karnataka Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Bihar North-eastern states Chhattisgarh Assam Delhi and Goa have been excluded due to inadequate sample. Kerala Chhattisgarh Maharashtra Madhya Pradesh Union territories North-eastern states Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Goa have been excluded due to inadequate sample. Male Female 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Jammu and Kashmir Uttar Pradesh Odisha Punjab Rajasthan West Bengal Tamil Nadu Gujarat India Haryana Karnataka Andhra Pradesh Uttarakhand Male Female

Graph 2: Home-Based Workers among Self-employed Workers (Urban, 2009-10)

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

As far as the caste composition is concerned, the rural and urban locations vary. It is well known that in India, women from the higher castes face a more restricted socially encrypted regime in terms of their participation in the public domain (Rani and Unni 2009).6 Such restrictions are more closely observed in rural settings than the urban. In rural India, for example, despite constituting one-fourth of population in the age-group 15-59, their workforce is only 18%. However, a disproportionately higher proportion of them are home-based. This is quite in contrast with scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) women. Although the absolute levels vary
Table 4: Caste Composition of Population, Workers and Home-Based Workers amongst Self-employed Workers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)
Social Group Men Population Women Total Men Workers Women Total Self-employed Home-based Workers Men Women Total

considerably in the urban context, the caste-specic pattern remains comparable with rural women. The tribal presence in urban location is minimal (Table 4). Slightly more than half of the home-based rural as well as urban women workers are in the reproductive age-group of 25-44 years; more than three-fourths are married. The triple burden household chores, caring and rearing of children, further worsened because of home-bound existence is selfevident. Not only the social nature of labour and the multiple identities of women gainfully working and yet maintaining cultural-ideological controls are clearly implicated (labour), structures seem to reproduce the situations in which women emerge as victims of gendered ideologies. And yet often ofcial (policy) discourse eulogises home-based work which is seen as
advantageous to(women) because while doing their routine work at home, they do the job and supplement the incomes of their families The women have exibility in working as there are no xed hours of work and they do not have to move out of their houses (Mazumdar 2004: 17, emphasis added).

Rural ST SC OBC Others Urban ST SC OBC Others Total ST SC OBC Others

10.9 21.9 41.6 25.6 2.8 14.5 38.8 43.8 8.3 19.5 40.7 31.6

11.0 21.8 42.4 24.9 2.9 14.3 38.9 43.9 8.5 19.4 41.3 30.8

10.9 21.8 42.0 25.3 2.9 14.4 38.9 43.9 8.4 19.5 41.0 31.2

11.3 22.2 41.6 24.9 2.6 14.8 39.2 43.4 8.6 19.9 40.8 30.7

15.4 22.9 43.4 18.3 4.2 18.7 41.3 35.8 13.3 22.1 43.0 21.5

12.6 22.4 42.1 22.8 2.9 15.5 39.6 42.0 9.9 20.5 41.4 28.1

4.8 16.4 51.5 27.4 1.6 11.2 43.0 44.2 3.4 14.2 48.0 34.4

4.1 19.1 46.6 30.2 1.8 13.5 47.6 37.2 3.5 17.5 46.9 32.2

4.4 17.9 48.7 29.0 1.7 12.1 44.9 41.3 3.5 15.9 47.4 33.3

Only those self-employed workers have been considered in this analysis to whom the question pertaining to location of workplace was canvassed. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

For home-based work, the raw materials are generally collected from the employers/contractors by the menfolk of the household and nished goods are also delivered to the employers/contractors by them. Ironically, even presumably forward-looking policies in state discourses do not question such constructs and continue to regard self-employed workers as having autonomy in terms of how, where and when to produce. They also talk about the economic independence of home-based workers as far as market, scale of operation and money are concerned. One may argue that such institutionalised legitimisation works towards reinforcement of constructs that conne women to domesticity. And yet, about one-third of
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women engaged in domestic duties as their principal activity were willing to take on (additionally) what can ofcially be called work if it was available within the connes of their homes. However, this preference has to be deconstructed the so-called preference comes from internalisation of social norms. The fact that employers give precedence to subcontract work at home for cost-cutting is conveniently pushed to the backburners (Chen, Sebstad and OConnell 1999). A womans spatial framing is thus an outcome of the twin process of assigning her primary location within domesticity combined with societal reluctance towards her visibility in public places and external compulsions. According to Maria Mies (1982, quoted in Rani and Unni 2009), home-based workers are semi-domesticated that is to say, they are housewives as far as their social standing is concerned, but they are wage labourers, integrated into the market-oriented production system.7
Explaining an Apparent Anomaly

self-employed workers requires some clarication. To start with, it is an amorphous category a blanket category so to speak, which would probably help explain the contradictory phenomenon of high share of such workers as homebased self-employed personnel. However, the category includes three subdivisions legislators and senior ofcials, corporate managers, and general managers; it is the corporate managers who make up for almost 99% of the workers therein (Table 6).
Table 6: Occupational Pattern amongst Home-Based Self-employed Workers Division 1: Legislators, Senior Officials and Managers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)
NCO 2004 Subdivision Rural Men Women Total Urban Men Women Total Total Men Women Total

(11) Legislators and senior officials 0.6 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.2 (12) Corporate managers 99.0 98.6 98.9 99.4 100.0 99.6 99.2 99.2 99.2 (13) General managers 0.4 1.3 0.7 0.6 0.0 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.6
Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

Not unexpectedly, slightly more than three/fourth and about half of home-based women and men workers in rural India are either in agriculture and sheries or craft and related work. However, it is the men who by far outnumber women at the upper echelon of job hierarchy, both in rural as well as urban locations. The urban situation is better than the rural in terms of occupational diversication, but intra-gender distribution continues to be skewed in favour of men as far as relatively better remunerative avenues are concerned (Table 5). The high share of rural and urban men and urban women legislators, senior ofcials and managers among home-based
Table 5: Occupational Pattern amongst Home-Based Self-employed Workers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)
National Classification of Occupations (2004) Men Women Total

The corporate managers in turn are of three groups as per the National Classication of Occupations (NCO) 2004 directors and chief executives, production and operations department managers and other department managers. Out of these, directors and chief executives is the most prominent category among the home-based self-employed workers (Table 7).
Table 7: Occupational Pattern amongst Home-Based Self-employed Workers: Subdivision: Corporate Managers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)
NCO 2004 Group Rural Urban Total Men Women Total Men Women Total Men Women Total

Rural (Div 1) Legislators, senior officials and managers (Div 2) Professionals (Div 3) Technicians and associate professionals (Div 4) Office clerks (Div 5) Service workers and shop and market sales workers (Div 6) Skilled agricultural and fishery workers (Div 7) Craft and related trades workers (Div 8) Plant and machine operators and assemblers (Div 9) Elementary occupations (Div 10) Workers not classified by occupations Urban (Div 1) Legislators, senior officials and managers (Div 2) Professionals (Div 3) Technicians and associate professionals (Div 4) Office clerks (Div 5) Service workers and shop and market sales workers (Div 6) Skilled agricultural and fishery workers (Div 7) Craft and related trades workers (Div 8) Plant and machine operators and assemblers (Div 9) Elementary occupations (Div 10) Workers not classified by occupations

(121) Directors and chief executives 99.7 99.4 99.6 98.9 98.4 98.8 99.3 98.9 99.2 (122) Production and operations department managers 0.3 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.6 0.4 (123) Other department managers 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 1.1 0.8 0.3 0.5 0.4
Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

18.4 5.6 1.9 0.2 19.8 30.6 3.3 4.8 0.4 30.4 11.5 4.2 0.1 17.5 3.3 24.8 3.3 4.4 0.4

7.8 1.7 0.5 0.0 5.1 24.9 1.0 4.2 0.1 15.4 8.6 3.4 0.5 8.9 10.7 44.3 2.8 4.9 0.6

12.5 3.5 1.1 0.1 11.6 37.1 27.4 2.0 4.5 0.2 24.1 10.3 3.8 0.3 13.9 6.4 33.1 3.1 4.6 0.5

14.9 54.6

Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.
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Although it is not possible to disaggregate further the composition of directors and chief executives using the NSSO data directly, as per the NCO 2004 classication, this category includes only working proprietors and directors in nonagricultural activities at the family level. It can thus be assumed that as most enterprises in India are own-account enterprises, these working proprietors and directors would be the owners of such home-based enterprises. In order to substantiate this proposition, a somewhat detailed categorisation of self-employed workers was attempted. The analysis shows that as high as 80% of rural and 77% of urban male home-based self-employed directors and chief executives were indeed own account workers. The corresponding gure for urban women was 68%. A further probe into the nature of enterprise in which these home-based selfemployed directors and chief executives were employed reveals that more than 90% of men in rural and urban India were employed in proprietary male enterprises whereas nearly 60% women were employed in proprietary female enterprises. These observations suggest that most of the self-employed home-based (so-called) directors and chief executives are

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nothing but single owner enterprisers operating from their homes (Table 8). That the home-based workers are usually own account workers can be reiterated through yet another observation. The self-employed are either the own-account workers who work independently without an employer as such or as employers who have outworkers working for her/him for wages (at employers premises). Very few are employers although men outnumber women in this case as well. The third category is that of unpaid family worker. Overall, it can be seen that the own-account male workers dominate the scenario whereas the unpaid workers are largely women (Table 9). Tables 10 and 11 disaggregate the home-based amongst selfemployed workers further. The bunching of workers in craft and related trades is clearly visible. Contrary to self-employed workers in general, the homebased workers particularly those who are urban based and are engaged in some sort of manufacturing activities operate, wholly or partly, under product specications (Table 12). Given the circumstances, they are more likely to be in putting out system; their percentage is slightly less than half of all
Table 8: Nature of Enterprise amongst Home-Based Self-employed Directors and Chief Executives Workers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)
UPSS Enterprise Type Rural Men Women Total Urban Total Men Women Total Men Women Total

self-employed home-based women workers. Not only do these workers have routine and monotonous work schedules, they are also responsible for various provisions that need to be provided for carrying out their work. There is no direct supervision, but the likelihood of rejection of nished products on imsy grounds is common. Also, these workers do not enter into price negotiation in the market.
Table 11: Home-Based amongst Self-employed Workers (15-59 Years) in Craft (Three-digit Classification, 2009-10, in %)
National Classification of Occupations (2004) Rural Men Women Total Urban Men Women Total Total Men Women Total

Food processing and related trades 22.4 Wood treaters, cabinet makers and related trades 19.3 Textile, garment and related trades 57.2 Pelt, leather and shoe-making trades 1.0

43.8 34.7 14.3 24.9 21.0 19.4 35.6 29.1

8.3 12.9 11.0


5.8 16.2

5.9 10.0

47.9 51.9 71.2 70.7 70.9 62.4 57.8 59.6 0.0 0.5 3.6 1.5 2.3 2.0 0.7 1.2

Bold figure indicates inadequate sample size. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

Table 12: Self-employed Home-Based Workers (15-59 Years) by Work Specification (2009-10, in %)
Specification Given Men Rural Women Total Men Urban Women Total Men Total Women Total

Proprietary male 90.4 36.6 71.8 92.9 37.1 77.8 91.7 36.8 74.8 Proprietary female 2.6 57.6 21.6 1.2 58.8 16.8 1.8 58.2 19.2 Partnership with members of the same household 3.5 3.2 3.4 4.5 2.5 4.0 4.0 2.9 3.7 Partnership with members of different household 1.1 0.2 0.8 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.6 0.3 0.5 Cooperative 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 Others 2.5 2.3 2.4 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.8 1.8 1.8
Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

Wholly/mainly 22.5 Partly 7.4 None 65.7 Not known 4.4

19.7 4.6 74.2 1.5

21.0 5.8 70.4 2.8

30.7 5.2 60.9 3.2

41.8 4.5 52.0 1.6

35.4 25.9 4.9 6.5 57.2 63.7 2.5 3.9

26.1 4.6 67.8 1.5

26.0 5.5 65.8 2.7

Only those self-employed workers have been considered in this analysis to whom the question pertaining to location of workplace was canvassed. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

Table 9: Employment Status of Self-employed Home-Based Workers (15-59 Years) (2009-10, in %)

Employment Status Rural Men Women Total Urban Total Men Women Total Men Women Total

Own account worker Employer Unpaid family worker

80.7 56.8 67.4 76.2 65.0 71.5 78.9 0.9 0.1 0.5 3.6 0.5 2.3 2.0 18.3 43.1 32.2 20.2 34.5 26.2 19.1

59.2 68.8 0.2 1.1 40.6 30.1

Only those self-employed workers have been considered in this analysis to whom the question pertaining to location of workplace was canvassed. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

Table 10: Home-Based amongst Self-employed Workers (15-59 Years) in Craft and Related Trades (Two-digit Classification, 2009-10, in %)
National Classification of Occupations (2004) Rural Men Women Total Urban Men Women Total Total Men Women Total

Extraction and building trades Metal, machinery and related trades Precision, handicraft, printing and related trades Other craft and related trades

10.3 12.6

5.7 1.4

8.0 6.9

7.3 0.6 8.1 1.0

3.5 4.1

9.2 11.0

3.6 1.2

6.2 5.8


9.5 11.8 19.1 10.7 14.3

15.9 10.0 12.8 63.9 85.1 75.2

63.0 83.3 73.3 65.5 87.7 78.1

Bold Figures indicate inadequate sample size. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

A caveat is in order. The disproportionate share of those who do not work under any product specication may appear as contradicting my argument that globalising capital uses the construct of womens primary location within the homes to its benet. However, the global capital enacts in a direct as well as in an indirect manner. Directly, through increase in exportoriented home-based work where product specication is given as is the case in urban locations and indirectly through the increasing tendency towards self-employment and homebased work, consequent upon the shift of workers from formal to informal employment. The increasing informality in the labour market either because of new labour force entrants or workers who have lost jobs or were retrenched is known. In the latter case, both men and women would form the self-employed category (which indeed is the case in India), but more women would be home-based than men, and indulged in petty work, not necessarily export-induced.8 Ironically, labour laws are still largely construed as monolithic drawing upon xed relationship between the employer and the employees with preordained work hours and constant supervision. Despite self-employment becoming the main source of engagement in the labour market, there remains an inherent opposition between workplace and home which becomes still more apparent in case of women workers who are at best considered as subsidiary workers. As per the 2009-10 data, the subsidiary workers status amongst the self-employed
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(15-59 age group) in rural India is about 42% as opposed to their share of 23% in total workers. The corresponding percentage is much lower in urban India 25% and 13% respectively. In comparison, 46% of rural and 29% of urban workers are in subsidiary status amongst those who are home-based. Table 13 is for total workers, i e, rural and urban together.
Table 13: Share of Subsidiary Status Workers1 to Total Workers (Rural + Urban) in that Category (2009-10)
State Among Total Workers Women Total Among Self-employed* Women Total Among Self-employed* Home-Based Women Total

Jammu and Kashmir Punjab Haryana Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh West Bengal Gujarat Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Kerala India

73.2 71.1 39.3 38.2 45.9 36.3 21.1 10.8 6.6 16.2 20.7

25.3 18.1 10.9 13.9 12.4 7.9 6.0 4.3 2.8 5.9 6.6

78.3 90.0 52.5 50.3 54.9 44.4 37.2 31.0 12.0 28.0 36.6

33.4 44.7 25.3 16.9 14.3 11.7 9.7 9.3 4.8 10.0 10.5

79.9 92.8 53.0 56.6 55.9 46.4 42.8 37.0 14.1 33.3 41.2

54.5 74.0 43.7 33.6 29.2 22.5 23.2 19.1 8.6 23.9 22.3

*Only those self-employed workers have been considered in this analysis to whom the question pertaining to location of workplace was canvassed. 1 Only those subsidiary status workers have been considered whose principal status was not of a worker. Also, only those states are shown in the Table where sample size was adequate. Source: Computed from Unit Level data of NSSO, Employment and Unemployment, Schedule 10, 2009-10.

The regional pattern whereby states located in the north have more than half of their home-based workers in subsidiary status can be explained by the general reluctance towards womens overt participation in the labour market in public domain in this part of the country. Even at home, they seem to rarely transcend the boundaries of their being secondary earners. Elsewhere, home-based women workers are largely principal workers (Table 13). The rural and urban patterns, when viewed separately are not very different from the overall picture except that the rural percentages for subsidiary workers amongst the self-employed home-based are higher their urban counterparts.

It is a commonplace understanding that in a globalising world, countries which have access to cheap labour have a competitive edge in export-oriented growth. It is also well known that women
1 According to Mehrotra et al (2012), there is a rise in the share of formal employment over the years 1999-2000 to 2009-10. They attribute this to a consistent increase of informal segment of workers in the organised sector. According to their estimates, the informal employment in the organised sectorcurrently stands at 58% compared to 38% in the beginning of the decade (p 66). This analysis has taken only those self-employed workers into consideration to whom the question pertaining to Location of Workplace was canvassed. Withholding the generally lower share of men in the home-based work, the relatively lower CV for urban men as compared to their rural counterparts needs some explanation. Employment in recent decade is marked by the

(and children) form a major component of cheap labour. Ironically, however, the changing nature of labour market dynamics in the contemporary context seems to have become an ideal site for reframing womens position anew within the household sphere. After a secular decline in self-employment and a corresponding rise in casual work from the early 1970s to 1990s, the present-day scenario in India is marked by a sudden spurt in self-employment particularly for women workers, both rural and urban. The Indian export market is not yet interlinked with the global market in ways that the other Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are. Therefore, it is extremely difcult to chalk out systematically the impact of the nancial crisis and recessed global economy on women workers in India. However, changes in existing labour laws and other contours of hiring workers in response to international pressures of competitive economies and the recent changes in the labour market outcomes, i e, rising self-employment and contractual labour are indications enough to suggest that India is not immune to changes in global economy. As pointed out, a much higher percentage of women as compared to their male counterparts work from home under most restrictive conditions, further restraining any possibilities of improving/enlarging their skills. These self-employed home-based women workers are the invisible link in the global value chain, but remain characteristically outside any sort of security cover, making them one of the most vulnerable segments of workers in general. What is even more distressing is the observation that the less developed states and the poor and the marginalised bear the disproportionate brunt. The location of women in such outcomes poses a classic dilemma. Although womens access to income-generating activities is supposed to enhance their bargaining power, their concentration in most exploitative avenues of work with legitimacy appropriated to it by placing them largely in the sphere of domesticity is an issue for contesting such a claim. The entire situation becomes further complex and layered because of the overlapping and multiple vulnerabilities economic and social that expanding capital uses to its benet.
be ventured that these activities are not specic to any region as such; they are rather ubiquitously present. Although the informal sector in general (and those engaged in home-based production) is largely considered to be a sector for survival, the formal and informal production systems no longer exist in a dualistic framework as quite a bit of formal sector work takes place in informal sector. It would be useful to distinguish between informal work and informal sector at this juncture. Following the arguments by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS 2007), it is, by and large, the nature of work rather than its placement in a particular sector that makes work formal or informal. In recent years, much of the additional employment in the organised sector has been entirely informal in nature (Kundu 1997). This informal work which is

consistent growth in subsidiary self-employed status of male workers in non-agricultural activities, particularly in urban areas. In the wake of overall erosion of full-time work, the men may well be nding refuse in some petty work opportunities which can be carried out at home even as the nature of work may be such so as to put them in subsidiary status (Unni and Raveendran 2007). That there is not much variation in their share across the states is because their construct as the bread-earners is universal and the nature of their work is shaped more by the macro elements of economic reforms rather than the cultural milieu as has been the case with women in homebased work (Rani and Unni 2009). Also, as Rani and Unni point out, home-based work of men is generally in the manufacturing activities related to general/special purpose machinery, TV and radio equipment, etc. It may
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usually undertaken by home-based workers is often tied with global market (Business Today 2012). Ironically, the gendered division of labour and household responsibilities does not cease to stop even for high-end home-based women workers (Mohan 2011). The high caste women are also better educated and they belong to higher income groups. These factors combined together with socially practised norms restrict their participation in labour market outside the home. According to Mehrotra (2003) subcontracting in the countries of Asia can be compared to the dirt road as it is driven by the desire of rms to cut costs to bare minimum, and the desire of marginal workers to take up work at any cost. Fieldwork and casual talks with home-based workers show the dismal level of awareness about specications amongst women. Place, Progress in Human Geography, 25(1): 37-52. Breman, J (1976): A Dualistic Labour System? A Critique of the Informal Sector Concept: I: The Informal Sector, Economic & Political Weekly, 11(48): 1870-76. Business Today, Sun (2012): http://businesstoday. story/ fabindias-fabulous-march/ 1/639.html, downloaded 29 April. Chen, M A, J Sebstad and L OConnell (1999): Counting the Invisible Workforce: The Case of Home-based Workers, World Development, 27(3): 603-10. Ghosh, J (2002): Globalisation, Export-Oriented Employment for Women and Social Policy: A Case Study of India, Social Scientist, 30(11): 17-60. Himanshu (2011): Employment Trends in India: A Re-examination, Economic & Political Weekly, 46(37): 43-59. Kannan, K P and G Raveendran (2012): Counting and Proling the Missing Labour Force, Economic & Political Weekly, 47(6): 77-80. Kantor, P (2002): Female Mobility in India: The Inuence of Seclusion Norms on Economic Outcomes, International Development Planning Review, 24(2): 145-59. Kundu, A (1997): Trends and Patterns of Female Employment in India: A Case of Organised Informalisation, The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, 40(3): 439-51. Mazumdar, I (2004): Women Home-based Workers in Delhi: Invisibility, Discrimination and Vulnerability Issues, National Seminar on Globalisation and Womens Work, 25-26 March, National Labour Institute, NOIDA. Mehrotra, S (2003): Protecting Labour Locally against Capital Investing Globally: Informalisation, Feminisation and Sub-contracted Home Work, The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, 46(3): 421-46. Mehrotra, S, A Gandhi, B K Sahoo and P Saha (2012): Creating Employment in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, Economic & Political Weekly, 47(19): 63-73. Mohan, T D (2011): Home as Gendered Site for Working Women in Delhi in S Raju and L LahiriDutt (ed.), Doing Gender Doing Geography: Emerging Research in India (New Delhi and Abingdon UK: Routledge), pp 155-78. Raju, Saraswati (2010): Mapping the World of Womens Work: Regional Patterns and Perspectives, ILO, New Delhi Ofce. (2011): Reclaiming Spaces and Places: The Making of Gendered Geography of India in S Raju (ed.), Gendered Geographies: Space and Place in South Asia (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), pp 31-59. Rangarajan, C, P Iyer Kaul and Seema (2011): Where Is the Missing Labour Force?, Economic & Political Weekly, 46(39): 68-72. Rani, U and J Unni (2009): Do Economic Reforms Inuence Home-based Work? Evidence from India, Feminist Economics, 15(3): 191-225. Unni, J and G Raveendran (2007): Growth of Employment (1993-94 to 2004-05): Illusion of Inclusiveness, Economic & Political Weekly, 42(3): 196-99.

Abraham, V (2009): Employment Growth in Rural India: Distress Driven?, Economic & Political Weekly, 44(16): 97-104. Anthias, F (2001): The Material and the Symbolic in Theorising Social Stratication: Issues of Gender, Ethnicity and Class, British Journal of Sociology, 52(3): 367-90. Bauder, H (2001): Culture in the Labour Market: Segmentation Theory and Perspectives of

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