IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 13th Nov 2020

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #240 :“Right to Work and a Labour Surplus Economy | UPSC 

Right to Work and a Labour Surplus Economy | UPSC 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



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.

Also, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to work in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

  • 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.

As economies around the world struggle to recover from the double whammy of a pandemic and a lockdown, unemployment is soaring.

  • UNEMPLOYMENT ALLOWANCES : Under MGNREGA, a person can hold the state accountable for not fulfilling the right by demanding an unemployment allowance.

But if the law is amended or withdrawn, the right vanishes.



  • 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.

Displacement and dispossession, and on the other, failure to create new jobs make it all the more important to imagine and make it legally enforceable.

GDP growth can come from both an increase in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction as well as from the manufacture of medicines.

  • 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.


  • 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.

These institutions can only use the vouchers to hire labour for pre-defined tasks — e.g. painting school buildings, repairing broken furniture, and so on. 

  • 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.

      IASbhai Windup: 


  • 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.

 The right to work essentially plays into capitalism and the work ethic — the right to work is the right to be exploited by capital.

  • 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 



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