Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Before suggesting methods for improving the health of the industrial worker, it is necessary to give some consideration to the important questions of his physique and dietary. We have had some difficulty in arriving at a fair estimate of the average physical condition, because of the variations which exist between different sections of the population and, indeed, between different races and castes working in the same industrial concern. We have observed that many industrial workers are neither the sons nor the grandsons of town-dwellers; they have migrated from the villages and have only temporarily severed their connection with the land. They are to some extent selected immigrants. The move to the city requires a certain degree of enterprise and courage; and most of those who go are, by their age and physique, better qualified than the average villager to face the more trying conditions inherent in industrial life. In addition the period of exile is often restricted in duration. The sowing and harvesting seasons, sickness, news of the illness or death of a relative may all lead to a return home. Some workers return every year, others every two or three years, and there is a constant stream from village to city and back again. These factors all play a selective part and tend to favour the appearance of a moderately good physique in many of the men industrially employed. Other influences work in an opposite direction. More often than not the villager lives under a burden of debt, and economic pressure and want compel a low standard of living which renders him unfit for hard work. He has perforce to accustom himself to a diet deficient in quality and often in quantity. Although cattle exist in enormous numbers, milk supplies are inadequate, and the villager is rarely able to obtain a sufficiency of the important animal fats contained in pure milk and ghi. His staple grain diet may be supplemented from one source or another with small quantities of green vegetables but these supplies are seldom adequate. The result is a lack of stamina and a lowered resisting power to disease which are apparent not only amongst the rice-eating races but even in those whose staple food is wheat. The effect is severely to handicap the agricultural emigrant in making the many adjustments required of him when he migrates to the industrial field.