Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The scarcity of labour in the past can be traced to a number of factors. Of these the most obvious was the growth of Indian industry. To a large extent factories, mines and even railways are the creation of the last generation. They employed conjointly about half a million persons in 1892 and about two and a half million persons in 1929. Every year employers increased their demands, so that recruiting had to provide not merely for replacement, but also for an appreciable addition. The population, it is true, was increasing, but not at the same rate, and two great epidemics, those of plague in 1896-97 and of influenza in 1918-19, had marked effects on the industrial population.
The factories, moreover, were able to draw only on limited areas. Lack of adequate communications prevented an easy flow of labour and lack of general contact with, or knowledge of, the cities was an even greater obstacle. In some areas recruiting was confined to a few villages where connections had been established, adjacent villages making no contribution. Finally, conditions in most centres were not calculated to attract labour or to retain it. As we have indicated, they are far from ideal to-day; but to the factory worker of the present time the conditions in which his father worked would seem intolerable.