(Dear Readers, The nation is now in the throes of crisis. Present rulers intend to deny the benefits of 14 labour welfare enactments to the workforce in the factories that employ up to and including 39 ‘workers’ for wages, excluding the ‘persons’ who are performing in administrative, supervisory or managerial functions. This will result in abundant supply of Slave Labour to facilitate Money Sharks to exploit and squeeze labour and share the spoils between them and the politicians who are powerful. The text of the Bill is available in the following link:
The issues involved are going to be analysed in this web-site, in detail. Readers may convey their views to the Ministry of Labour in firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com before 10.11.2014. Part I of the series is here for the readers to have a birds-eye view of the subject)
It was 11.10.2014. When we sneaked into Heaven, we happened see three persons sitting under a tree in the morning sun. On closer view we found that they were the souls who worked for the welfare of humanity, when on earth. They were Otto Von Bismarck, the Iron Man of Germany, Sir William Beveridge, Father of the Welfare State, and Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour in the Cabinet of Winston Churchill. All of them looked sad and it seemed that they were concerned about certain issues. We made an attempt to overhear their conversation. Ernest Bevin said, “Mr. Beveridge! I share your concern. I did not know how the Indian bureaucrats put forward such cases before lawmakers. Although it is said, on theory, that the Executive must do what the Legislature says, the reverse is always the case in India, in practice. I find that the Indian politicians do not know the subjects much and are falling victims to the manipulations of the bureaucrats and become willing tools in their hands. I am afraid what the future holds for the common men in India”. “Yes, many Indian politicians want only the post and glory. They do not want to work to understand the issues and explain their enlightened stand in the forum to which they have been elected. This was the attitude of the politicians of India even when they were members of the Constituent Assembly. Wwhen crucial subjects were discussed in the Constituent Assembly, the members were not ready to extend their stay in Delhi but wanted to catch their trains to go back. They subordinated the national interests to their own personal interests, although they visited Delhi at government’s expense, at that time. The trend continues even now.”
Bureaucrats manage the Politicians
“Yes. I find that it is because of the incompetence of the legislators who know only how to manipulate people to win elections. They do not have the capacity or inclination to understand and analyse the macro-issues affecting the nation. As a result, many bureaucrats have been, directly, made ministers in the central cabinet, to man important portfolio. The elected MPs are just looking at them helplessly. Consequently, the other bureaucrats also find it convenient to keep the legislators as ignorant as possible, forever, so that their bureaucracy can have upperhand in the governance of the nation.” “I agree. In India, except in exceptional cases, it is the bureaucracy that runs India. The business-magnates, therefore, find it easy to get things done their way, by patronising the bureaucrats who take care to manipulate the opinions of the Legislature. During the discussion in the House of the People on 23.3.1992, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee blamed that the bureaucrats were more responsible for creating the economic crisis than the political leadership. His statement is one of the many evidences available to prove that the politicians are led by and not obeyed to by the bureaucrats. What has been depicted in the famous serial ‘Yes, Minister’ is applicable more to India than any other country.” At that moment, Prof. Adharkar came to the meeting spot. The others welcome him and asked him if he had seen the draft of the “The Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014”, proposed to be made law. Prof. Adharkar, who looked downcast, did not give any reply but sat down on the floor, near Bismarck. Ernest Bevin prodded Adharkar to speak. Adharkar just threw his hands in despair and did not say anything. Bismarck patronisingly patted Adharkar on his back and said, “What can he do, friends? He had done whatever he could and his role was over on 15.08.1944 when he handed over his report to the Government. But, does anyone care to read it, now? He had enumerated some Fundamental Principles also for the success of social security in India. That too is not read by anyone. At least, the present day politicians can read the 1929-31 report of the Royal Commission of Labour. Many findings reported therein are relevant in the present context too. But, nobody cares, now. That was not the case then. Those were the days when politicians were really concerned about the real welfare of the people. It is natural that Mr.Adharkar is upset.” Beveridge said, “Yes. But, now a days the politicians in India run after moneybags and believe that the poor can be quietened by propaganda and repression. In short, the politicians believe that they can flourish by making the rich really happy and by making the poor believe they are happy.”. Adharkar looked at the other three. He said, “What the Bill is going to do is to take India back to the pre-1923 situation. It was only in 1923 that the Workman’s Compensation Act was enacted. Before that, there was no labour welfare measure at all. Even this was enacted in 1923 only because of some provocative remarks by others in the ILO meeting in 1922. All other labour welfare legislations like the Factories Act, Employees’ State Insurance Act, Minimum Wages Act, etc., came after Independence as a bouquet. But, this Bill intends to undo all this.”
Bismarck pleased the workers and not the employers
Bismarck agreed. “When I wanted to build a mightier Gemany, I laid stress on labour welfare. I set up separate hospitals for factory workers. I brought into force the Accident Insurance Act in 1883, Maternity benefit provisions in 1884, Sickness and Old-age Pension in 1889 and so forth. The nation flourished because the government took care of the people in the lower strata who work on the field by providing them security for livelihood and incentive to work. Even after Germany was devasted after Second World War, it re-emerged to become a mighty economic power and its monetary unit attained full value within 26 years in 1971. But, India which got peaceful transition of power in 1947 has not seen its rupee attain full value till date. The Indian politicians, in my assessment, do not care for the real development of the nation.” Adharkar said, “Yes. In India, politics is the means for making money. Those who have talent enter politics, become leaders and amass wealth. Those who are not fit for anything also enter politics, work as party-workers with the aim of sharing the party-money. They are in politics not for service to the society but to earn their livelihood. The former and the latter make a perfect combination to cheat the public. You see, Tony Blair. He was worried how he could settle his debts, after he ceased to be the Prime Minister of England. But, in India you cannot find a single Municipal Councillor with debts after his tenure even for a single term. The system is corroded so much. There is, therefore, nobody to care for the commoners. The Bill is just symptomatic of this rot that has set in.” “Is the system so rotten?”, asked Beveridge. Adharkar nodded. “Yes. That is why none of the major political parties is ready to disclose the source of their income to the public, through website, in spite of the direction of the Central Information Commission to that effect. A political party supposed to work for the public and collects money as donations from public for the proclaimed public cause, is duty bound to disclose its complete source of income. But, the politicians are mortally afraid to make the source public, only because they remain there as politicians, just in order to apportion that party money among themselves for their personal consumption. As long as the Indian politicians, including the so-called Communists, fight shy of disclosing their complete source of income, they will run after the moneybags only. They will use their legislating power to further the interests of only the rich, who pay them donations heftily as a quid pro quo. This is the root cause of this kind of Bills. This does not take into account the welfare of the workers. Their tall talks about welfare of the people, patriotism, etc., are nothing but farce.”
Indian politicians pave way for Forced Labour
Adharkar continued, “These bureaucrats do, however, have a sense of sadistic humour. They call this Bill a part of ‘reforms’. “Yes, I noticed too” said Beveridge. He continued, “Earlier, these bureaucrats called a bill that permits exploitation of work force as the ‘Bill for improving Safety and Health of Workers’. The Indian politicians and bureaucrats believe in forced labour. But, that will not help evolve a civilised nation, as explained in the Charter of the International Labour Organisation. All along, I had been saying that the making of a nation is possible only with “willing participation of labour”. But, the Indians do not care”. Ernest Bevin interjected. “I find Indian politicians and bureaucrats pursuing a path which is not followed by the UK, Germany, Japan, Switzerland or the Scandinavian countries. These leaders in India mislead the masses. A simple analysis of the employment position in the beverage industry after the entry of two MNCs would show that the opportunity of employment has become less than what it was in 1990. Profit is the only motive for the businessmen now a days, especially those of MNCs. I had said, in the year 1945 itself, after the Second World War was over, that such profit-motive of the businessmen had resulted in world war. I stressed on the need for providing basis economic security to create fairer conditions of living for the working population also. But, Indian politicians do not realise the need for taking real care of their working population. The business organisations like Times of India editorially welcomes such anti-poor, anti-labour and pro-rich policies as ‘labour reforms’ (14.10.2014). India, with this kind of politicians around, is in the throes of crisis.”
ESI Act aims at extending coverage
“I agree”, said Adharkar, “Our ESI Act was intended to provide social security to the employees in the organised sector and its aim was to cover the factories with ten or more employees and also to extend the scheme to establishments in industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors and thereafter to other areas too. But, the proposed Bill, says that the ESI Act and many other Acts are not applicable to ‘Small factories’ which term has been defined as “any premises wherein a manufacturing process is carried on and which employs less than forty workers”. The exploitation of common man by the economically mightier rich will be more acute, if and when this Bill becomes an Act. The protagonists of this Bill have not explained how the ESI Act and other Acts had worked against the interests of the nation. But, they won’t as their aim is to placate the moneybags and, specially, the MNCs, only and not the commoners”.
Institutional Economists work for better world
Beveridge said, “ See, what Communism could not achieve has been achieved by Social Security. The rulers must aim for less gap between the rich and poor. That alone will make the nation civilised and the people happy. But, the basic flaw is that the Indian politicians do not care for Institutional Economics which focuses on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of institutions in shaping economic behaviour. Indians can do wonders if they fine tune the organisations discharging the work mandated by the Acts to work effectively. But, they propose to drive those organisations out from the factories employing less than 40 workers”. All others were listening to Beveridge with rapt attention. Beveridge continued, “One must read, at least, Edwin E. Witte. He said that “All or most of the institutional economists have been pragmatists, studying facts, not for their own sake, but to solve problems and to make this a better world to live in”. But, Indian politicians are in a hurry to please the rich and ditch the poor. As you said, unless the source of income of the political parties in India is made transparent, India will continue to be run only by the educated dupes. It will not become a civilised nation. A nations social security measures and their effective implementations are the symbol of civilisation. One can refer to the Human Development Index in this regard. Seen in this background, “The Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014” is a move in the wrong direction, where there will be total slavery in the nation. I feel sorry for the common people of India”. Bismarck said, “ I feel very sorry for the poor in India. We, the Germans, built our nation. But, the Indians sell their nation”.