Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We are now in a position to examine in more detail the system of official control which regulates the recruitment of labour for the eight districts of Assam in which the tea plantations lie. It is important to observe that the legislative restrictions which are imposed on recruitment for work in the districts in question have no counterpart elsewhere in India. Migration, as we have indicated, is a feature of Indian industrial labour everywhere. Workers may be assisted to emigrate to any part of India; even the employers in the tea areas of North Bengal adjoining Assam are subject to no hampering enactments, although they draw labour from areas where the Assam employer also recruits. The restrictions imposed on the movement of labour to these eight districts known as the labour districts, are governed by Act VI of 1901 as amended from time to time. The recruiting areas to which this Act applies are Madras, Bengal, the United Provinces, Bihar and Orissa, the Central Provinces and Assam itself. The local Governments of these provinces, by means of notification, can prohibit recruitment, either absolutely or otherwise than in accordance with such of the provisions of the Act as may be specified in the notification. The question of the repeal of the Act and of the enactment of a simpler measure in its place has been for some time under the consideration of the Government of India, and we were supplied with copies of the correspondence with local Governments on the subject. We are in complete agreement with the view expressed by the Government of India that " the principle of complete prohibition of recruitment in particular areas " is no longer defensible. If it is feared that grave abuses will arise, it should suffice to vest local Governments with adequate powers of control over recruitment. But there appears to be no justification for the exercise of the power which is now conferred by Section 3 of the Act to prohibit recruitment altogether in particular localities. This power has been exercised in respect of five divisions and two districts of the United Provinces, and we find that the prohibition has not been withdrawn, in spite of the strong recommendation to this effect made by the Royal Commission on Agriculture, with which we are in complete agreement. We recommend that the power to prohibit recruitment should be withdrawn immediately, and that in future no barrier should be set up to prevent the normal play of social and economic forces in attracting labour from one part of India to another.