National Commission on Labour (1967)||
28.60 Agricultural labour, as the most vulnerable section of the rural community, suffers under conditions created by scarcities and famines. Scarcity results from deficient, ill-distributed or ill-timed rainfall. In 1965, as many as 125 districts with a population, of 47.6 millions in eight States were affected by drought; in 1966, 157 districts with a population of 102.6 millions in seven States were so visited. In 1966-67, a famine occurred in Bihar; a terrible scarcity depended into a famine and it was the first famine to have been declared as such in post-Independence India. During 1968-69, areas in Andhra and Rajasthan came under the lengthening shadows of scarcity.
28.61 Scarcity and famine conditions witness new developments in organisation of agricultural labour, and new experiments with different types of schemes, agencies for execution of schemes, fixation and revision of wages, and distribution of foodgrains to the landless through a chain of fair price shops. Extraordinary measures are undertaken to provide work for the unemployed and to take care of the children, nursing and expectant mothers. Welfare measures are introduced on a large scale. Lessons of famine or scarcity are, however, lost when these conditions pass away, and both the administration and the people tend to slide back to the normal routine. But there is a good deal in these experiences to draw upon to tackle the problem of the rural unemployed on a permanent and continuous basis. Since famine conditions, when declared, always evoke wide public sympathies and support, the burden on public authorities to that extent is shared. As a long-term measure, there should be an intensive approach to development of the areas that are chronically susceptible to drought or famine.
28.62 We also
recommend that the implications of crop insurance should be examined as a means of
stabilisation of agricultural wages,
particularly in relation to small landholders. The need for crop insurance to overcome the serious dislocation caused by crop failure owing to natural calamities has to be recognised.