<SiteLock

Dr. Ambedkar on Government's Obligations to Labour

 

May Day Greetings!

 

(Transcription of a news report on Babasaheb Ambedkar's presidential address as Labour Member, in 1945)

babasaheb dhanbad

Dr. Ambedkar at coal miners' colony in Dhanbad, 1943

New Delhi, November 27 (1945): Dr. Ambedkar, Labour Member, Government of India, defined the State’s obligations to labour, in his presidential address to the Seventh Indian Labour Conference which met here on Tuesday.

Taking stock of Government action on the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Labour and the ratification of I.L.O., conventions, Dr.Ambedkar observed that there were only 10 recommendations which were still outstanding, whereas India had yet to ratify 49 out of the 63 conventions. “This is due not so much to the unwillingness of the Government” but to “the rule which requires that a convention must be adopted without change or modification.” “It should be possible”, remarked the Labour Member, “for the I.L.O. to draft a convention so as to provide for stages”.    

Dealing with the capacity to bear the burden of the cost involved in labour legislation, Dr.Ambedkar said “Labour may ask monied classes a very pertinent question saying if you do not mind paying taxes to meet expenditure on war, why do you object to raising funds when their purpose is to raise labour standards?”

Speaking on the agenda of the conference, the Labour member emphasized that the reduction of working hours, minimum wage legislation, and the recognition of trade unions were necessary to ease the situation in the transition period from war to peace. Reduction of hours of employment would hold the provision of employment for many. Absence of machinery for fixing minimum wages, combined with unemployment, was bound to cause labour standards to slump. Sound and responsible trade unions would help employers and workers to work together in the solution of their common problems.

 “I do not propose”, observed Dr. Ambedkar “to go on a breakneck speed but I am determined to see that the Labour Department does not linger on.”

COMMON PLEAS

Dr. Ambedkar referred to the common pleas that that we should copy the British example, that it would be unfair to put the cost of labour legislation on Indian industries which are at present in an infant stage and that it would be useless to enact laws which must remain a dead letter owing to the absence of the necessary administrative machinery. “Far from accepting them as good and valid reasons labour is sure to regard them,” he said, “as so many excuses.” He said that the fact that the British took 100 years to have a proper code of labour legislation was no argument we should also in India take 100 years.

 He added: “The argument about the capacity to bear the burden of the cost involved in labour legislation is an argument of very serious import, and labour will have to take note of it. At the same time, the question is about the faith behind the argument. Is it a bona-fide argument? Or is it merely a cloak for avoiding liability? Labour may well say that this argument about cost loses much of its force when one thinks of the money spent on war. All of us know what colossal amount of money has been raised for the war and how the monied classed classes have borne the crushing weight of high and heavy taxations for carrying on the war. Labour may well ask statesmen to say how many houseless persons could have been decently housed, how many naked persons could have been properly clothed, how many hungry men and women could have been given full nourishment, how many uneducated persons could have been educated, how many sick persons could have been restored to health, if the money spent on war had been spent on public welfare”

~~~

 

This transcription was done by Vinay Shende

Source: Times of India, Nov 28, 1945, page 7

 

 

 

Other Related Articles

Liberal narrative and Afghanistan
Wednesday, 01 September 2021
Vinith Kumar These last few weeks have been about the Taliban. But it hasn’t really been about them. The reports, the end of the war, the exit of the American forces, the tragic images from the... Read More...
We the People: Expanding the Idea of Democracy - Part 3
Sunday, 29 August 2021
Pranav Jeevan P People normally blame democracy by saying it is not a good model of governance citing the issues that plague our country like poverty, corruption, unemployment and under-development.... Read More...
‘Chak De! India’ and Women's Hockey
Saturday, 21 August 2021
  Khakhlari Recently the Indian women's field hockey team made headlines as they qualified for the Olympic semi-finals for the first time in Tokyo. Quite predictably and not without fair reason,... Read More...
Caste management through feminism in India
Friday, 06 August 2021
Kanika S There was a time some 5-6 years ago when feminism tried to undermine Dr Ambedkar by pointing out that he carried a penis.1 Now he is just as fantastically a carrier of feminist ideals... Read More...
Sunflower giving Mother
Monday, 26 July 2021
“If there was no night, women would not even have a chance to rest” – Smt. Kusum Nigam Dhamma Darshan Nigam Our mother once said that “अगर रात नहीं होती तो... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Babasaheb and Labour
Saturday, 01 May 2021
  Gaurav Somwanshi Today, let us understand Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's contribution to labour welfare in 10 examples. These are taken from a variety of sources, but primarily from BAWS volumes. The... Read More...
Caste management through feminism in India
Friday, 06 August 2021
Kanika S There was a time some 5-6 years ago when feminism tried to undermine Dr Ambedkar by pointing out that he carried a penis.1 Now he is just as fantastically a carrier of feminist ideals... Read More...
Sunflower giving Mother
Monday, 26 July 2021
“If there was no night, women would not even have a chance to rest” – Smt. Kusum Nigam Dhamma Darshan Nigam Our mother once said that “अगर रात नहीं होती तो... Read More...
Liberal narrative and Afghanistan
Wednesday, 01 September 2021
Vinith Kumar These last few weeks have been about the Taliban. But it hasn’t really been about them. The reports, the end of the war, the exit of the American forces, the tragic images from the... Read More...
We the People: Expanding the Idea of Democracy - Part 3
Sunday, 29 August 2021
Pranav Jeevan P People normally blame democracy by saying it is not a good model of governance citing the issues that plague our country like poverty, corruption, unemployment and under-development.... Read More...