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Gig work: India now contributes 1 in 4 freelancers

Goutam Das     January 9, 2018

India's gig economy, or the freelancing one, especially those who operate over the Internet, has taken off over the last three-five years. So much so, that one in every four freelancers are from India. The country dominates when it comes to software, with India contributing 50 per cent of the global freelancers in this domain, a new report from payments company PayPal said.

The survey, among 500 freelancers in India, reported that a majority of the freelancers are under 40 with a mean annual income of Rs 19,02,785. About 23 per cent of the surveyed have an annual income in the range of Rs 40,00,001-Rs 45,00,000. The top three jobs include web/mobile development, web design, data entry and Internet research. Australia, the UK, and the U.S. generate a chunky part of their international income.

While freelancing is at a nascent stage in India and therefore growing fast, about 61 per cent of the respondents said they faced issues in getting paid, both from international and domestic customers. Many of them receive payments only after two-four weeks of invoicing. There are other challenges apart from irregular income. Gig workers often have to deal with tough customers, a very competitive industry and isolation - about 17 per cent of those surveyed said they feel isolated when working.

So why do the young choose freelancing over regular employment? The report does not mention the relation between the lesser number of technology jobs available now and the choice of freelancing - most Indian IT services companies, for instance, have slowed down hiring or are in the middle of manpower rationalisation because of the impact of automation and a slowdown in growth. Start-ups, after a span of irrational exuberance, are hiring conservatively as well. Nevertheless, the survey indicates that "being my own boss", the freedom to pick work they like, and the possibility of earning more is making freelancing an attractive option.

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