Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Unfortunately, the examination hitherto given to the subject has not provided what must be regarded as an essential preliminary to the framing of a satisfactory scheme. What is required is an estimate of the incidence of sickness among workers whom the scheme is designed to cover. Without this it is impossible even to guess at the cost of any benefits which it is desired to provide or, conversely, the benefits which can be secured from any given contributions. The collection of the necessary material for the framing of an estimate, therefore, is the first task which should be undertaken. The amount of material already available is extremely scanty. In response to a suggestion from us, the Director of the Labour Office at Bombay kindly made an endeavour to conduct an investigation into the matter; but, having regard to the very short period of about three months over which the enquiry was made and a number of other special factors mentioned in his report, the result can hardly be taken as giving much guidance, even for the class of workers to which the enquiry related. What are required are figures showing the incidence of sickness for definite groups of workers over a comparatively long period, and it is unlikely that such figures will be easy to obtain. The railways and Government factories, most of which have schemes for the grant of leave on account of sickness may be able to give some assistance; but in both crises workers are generally engaged after medical examination and thus represent a selected class. A number of employers have sickness benefit schemes, and their co-operation might be secured. It would be of special assistance if a few employers would agree to make experiments in the grant of sickness benefits either on a contributory or on a non-contributory basis, and to maintain records of their experience. But assistance secured from these sources will almost certainly require to be supplemented by special statistical enquiries in selected centres, and we recommend that these be instituted as soon as possible. The collection of the statistics should be made with expert medical and actuarial advice and with the co-operation of persons qualified either as employers or as representatives of labour. The preliminary enquiries might be conducted by the Government of India who might secure for the purpose from the Central Legislature a small informal committee, including representatives of capital and labour. These, with medical, actuarial and statistical assistance, should be able to advise regarding the nature of the statistics required, the centres in which they might be collected, the sources from which they should be obtained, and the means of obtaining them.