By Dr. M .M. Goel : To commemorate International Labour Day, let the new breed of knowledge workers take a pledge for creating work culture for boosting peace, progress and prosperity in knowledge economy of today. There is a strong case for protection and welfare of the 91.7 percent workers in the unorganized sector because they are the main contributors to the wealth of India who deserve to be recognized as workers in official survey for all practical purposes and need to be issued identity card to provide a definite legal entity.
Being in Seoul since August 2010, I have not seen even a single case of child labour anywhere for which I congratulate the Republic of Korea and its people along with politicians in power and opposition. For me as an Indian economist it is a wonderful love and concern for children in Korea. In India also, we have a ban on Child labour from October 10, 2006 which was necessary but not sufficient to create conducive environment for children to go to school. The new provisions in Child Labour Prohibition & Regulation Act are merely an ointment and are a lip service without its honest introspection for implementation. There is a strong case for conducting a national survey of child laborers within a year to know the nature and extent of child labour in India which is around 6 crore. The rate of return on implementation of child labour prohibition is 7 as estimated by ILO. It should be noted carefully that the child labour is cheaper and is the obstacle for employment opportunities to adults numbering six and a half crore.
Even at the risk of being misunderstood by the protagonists of prohibition of child labour who lacks in providing alternative opportunities to the children, I make a case for part time jobs by such children to finance their education as in USA . Most of the children finance their education themselves by doing part time jobs while studying.
The basic question of ROTI( bread for livelihood) is the Return on Training Investment which calls for Vocationalization of education- a distant dream requires serious thinking at all levels.
To grant relief to the labour grievances within a reasonable time, the recommendation of Second National Commission on Labour (SNCL) the ban on civil courts on the issues pertaining to labour which falls only in the domain of labour courts and should have final authority.
The establishment of All India Labour Judicial Service as recommended by the Second Labour Commission is the need of the day.
To commemorate International Labour Day which can culturally inspire our Labour force and manpower for hard work with a sense of sacrifice instead of unending personal or group greed and desires, we need to make strike ballot as a guiding principle by the labour unions before launching a strike as recommended by SNCL.
No casual or temporary appointments be made for more than two years against a permanent post is a worth considering recommendation of the SNCL. We deserve to know why the Unorganized Sector Social Security Bill 2006 could not be passed.
So far the condition of workers in India is concerned; it continues to be the same because of the labour leaders becoming pawns for the political bigwigs. Thus, we need to search alternatives to labour unions to improve the lot of workers for whom such safeguard was originally planned as a social organization.
To create a conducive work culture in India and elsewhere, there is need for converting holiday culture into holy-day culture.
* The writer is first ICCR Chair Professor of Indian Economy in Korea at Graduate School of International & Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Mobile: 010-9425-2630