IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 13th Nov 2020
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player
EDITORIAL HUNT #240 :“Right to Work and a Labour Surplus Economy | UPSC ”
Reetika Khera | Amit Basole
Right to Work and a Labour Surplus Economy | UPSC
Can the right to work be made real in India?
It can be made workable if there is political will and fiscal resources
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : DPSP
How difficult it is to implement right to work as a fundamental right .Examine the same difficulties in a capital-intensive labour surplus economy -(GS 2/3)
- Constitutional Obligations
- Market economy and Labour rights
- Make right to work , work
- Worker rights in India
- POLITICS OF UNEMPLOYMENT : In India, the land of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the promise of jobs and the politics of unemployment have a long history.
- LEGAL STATUS WORLDWIDE : The right to work was a big topic of discussion after World War II.
- CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION : In India, we don’t have a constitutional right to work.
- MGNREGA : But what we do have is MGNREGA.This is a step in the direction of a right to work, but it is a statutory right.
- UNEMPLOYMENT ALLOWANCES : Under MGNREGA, a person can hold the state accountable for not fulfilling the right by demanding an unemployment allowance.
MARKET ECONOMIES AND LABOUR RIGHTS
- MARKET ECONOMIES AND EMPLOYMENT : India has been seeing a declining jobs-to-GDP ratio, and mostly jobless growth, with labour also subject to the laws of the market.
- TERMINOLOGY : The term ‘right to work’ is often used in the context of unemployment or lack of availability of work.
- REALITY : But there is also another sense of it, which is the right to earn my livelihood without any obstruction.
- PAST DECADE EXPERIENCES : The path of development not only does not create adequate employment opportunities, it also actively dispossesses or displaces people from their means of livelihood.
- VINTAGE ISSUES : We rarely discuss per capita GDP growth; most discussion centres on overall growth of people’s welfare.
- CAPITAL INTENSIVE METHODS : Capital-intensive methods in the countries in which these techniques of production evolved were labour-scarce.
- MECHANISATION : But more and more automation in a country like India is likely to lead to jobless growth.
MAKE THE RIGHT TO WORK, WORK
- A SOLUTION TO FOCUS : One approach is Decentralised Urban Employment and Training, or DUET, which has been around for some time.
- OPPORTUNITIES AND DIGNITY : The idea here, like with MGNREGA, is to create new employment opportunities so that those who are unemployed may be gainfully employed and earn a dignified living.
- DEFINITION OF DIGNITY : The dignity is supposed to come from work conditions, such as being paid a fair wage , Having regulated work hours etc.
- DUET EXAMPLE : Urban local bodies can issue job vouchers to certified public institutions such as schools and universities for pre-approved tasks.
- A WORKABLE AGENDA : To make it workable, we need not only political will, but also fiscal resources.
- LACK OF ADEQUATE WORK : It is the state’s responsibility to provide these public goods, and this imperative can be combined with an employment creation programme just like MGNREGA does in rural areas.
- CREATION OF ASSETS : In MGNREGA too, the asset creation part is often under-emphasised, and it would be good to bring both these things together through an urban employment guarantee.
- LACK OF LEGISLATION : When very fundamental rights ‘in work’ are being violated, and violated not only for lack of legislation, but also because of labour legislation being diluted.
- HARNESSING DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND : In terms of the labour code changes, one thing to remember is that India is a labour surplus economy.
- STRUCTURALLY WEAKNESS : In the capital-labour bargaining process, labour is structurally weak in India, which means it is incumbent on the state to provide that support to labour.
WORKER RIGHTS IN INDIA
- PROTECTING LABOUR LAWS : Protective labour laws exist/existed in India, they apply to a minuscule sliver of the labour force, say, people in permanent government jobs.
- LEGAL RIGHTS : For the rest, there is very little legal protection, very poor awareness of the protections that exist, and weak implementation.
- TIGHTENING LABOUR MARKET : So, given the constraints in state capacity when it comes to enforcing labour laws, tightening the labour market is a great way to ensure that workers are treated well.
- SCHEME TO SERVE : A good employment guarantee programme would function as far as the rights ‘in work’ are concerned.
- ROLE OF STATE : If the state steps in and significantly reduces the surplus labour, particularly in the casual market, it automatically creates the conditions for better treatment of workers.
- FUTURE OF HUMANITY : Work should be fulfilling, work should be creative, and work has to be put in its place, which is hopefully a very small place.
A poster from the World War II period said- ‘eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, and eight hours of rest’.Perhaps that will be a labours demand.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Right to Work and a Labour Surplus Economy | UPSC