Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Even amongst the more or less permanent industrial workers, physique is frequently unsatisfactory, and the standard is perhaps lowest of all in the large organised industries. In the Bombay Presidency where over 80 per cent of the workers are employed in the cotton mills, their physical condition is admitted on all hands to be poor. An investigation carried out a few years ago showed that these mill workers have a noticeably low average weight as compared with other classes of labour, the average being highest in Sholapur, lowest in Bombay and midway in Ahmedabad.
This is in exact relation to the origin of the labour force in these three centres. In Bombay most of the labour comes from Konkan, a poverty-stricken and unhealthy tract; and the low grade of physique among these people is largely due to poor constitutions from birth and to a deficient diet. The nature of the work, the unhealthy conditions in some of the mills and bad housing must all have an additional detrimental effect, although the general practice of returning to' their country and the increased earnings which some enjoy may counteract these evils to some extent. The immigrants from Kathiawar, Raj-putana and the United Provinces, who work in Ahmedabad, have a better physique than the local labour force, the variation again being due to differences in diet. The somewhat higher standard of the Sholapur worker is due to the more healthy stock from which he comes and to his habit of taking regular exercise. It is also worth noticing that, of the three centres, Bombay has the worst sex-ratio and Sholapur the best. Generally speaking, the cotton mill workers have little of the stamina required for sustained industrial life and are easily susceptible to malaria and other diseases. Even the more highly paid weavers show a physique little different from that presented by the general labour force of this industry. The health of the women, workers is of an even lower grade. Mill work added to the cares of family life in a wretched environment lays them open to infection, and tuberculosis is common.