Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We have been dwelling mainly on the hardships which many immigrant labourers have to endure in Rangoon. But it is obvious that large-scale emigration could not continue if these represented the whole of the picture. The emigrant goes to Burma because he wishes to better his condition and because he knows that others have bettered their condition by so doing. The main attraction which Burma offers is that of a comparatively high wage. We have indicated in an earlier chapter that the general level of industrial wages is higher than in any Indian province; the bulk of the labour is drawn from areas where the standard of living is particularly low, even for India. For example, the prevailing rates of wages for unskilled labour in most Madras districts would appear to be generally between 7 annas and 4 annas a day: and lower rates than 4 annas are not infrequent in the Telugu districts. Mr. Bennison, in his report on the standard of living (1928), estimated the average monthly income of single Tamils, Telugus and Uriyas at Rs. 24-4-9, of single Hindustanis at Rs. 26 and of Chittagonians at Rs. 29-5-3. He gave the average remittances to dependents for these groups at Rs. 7-7-8, Rs. 8-10-0 and Rs. 9-0-3. The figures on which these are based were usually derived from estimates supplied by the workers, and we are not clear as to how the figures for income were calculated and, in particular, as to the extent to which allowance was made for unemployment or the casual character of employment. But there can be no doubt that work in Rangoon and else where in Burma is paid for at rates which are tar in excess of anything the average immigrant could obtain in the area from which he comes.
The work supplied in Burma supports a great number of Indians who would have difficulty in getting a bare sustenance in India and affords substantial relief their families at home. If Burma has benefited greatly from Indian labour, India has also been substantially helped by the provision of an outlet for sections of her population that arc hard pressed and by the surplus of their earnings.