Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The only centres which have reached the stage of being compelled to go far a field for the bulk of their labour are Rangoon, Jamshedpur and the two big centres, Bombay and the Hooghly area. Rangoon, like Burma generally, has to look mainly to Indian labour for the maintenance of its industries as the Burman shows little desire to enter the lower ranks of factory employment. The factories of Rangoon therefore rely on the great stream of migration from across the Bay of Bengal; the workers come chiefly from the Telugu speaking tracts, adjoining the northern Madras ports. Jamshedpur was established in an area that was practically virgin forest and required a large number of workers from the start; there was a big expansion of work during and after the war, which demanded a further rapid increase in numbers. It is not surprising, therefore, that the labour force here should include sections from nearly every province of India; in particular, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, the Central Provinces, the United Provinces and Madras all contribute large quotas.
The two leading areas, Bombay and the Hooghly, found it necessary, at a very early stage of their industrial history, to recruit from distant fields. Bombay Island has the sea on one side and a narrow coastal plain flanked by high mountains on the other, and no large expansion of industry would have been possible had it remained dependent on the immediate neighbourhood. It now draws its factory labour mainly from two sourcesóby sea from Ratnagiri, a district to the south where pressure on the land is very great, and by land from the Deccan districts, especially Ahmednagar, Poona and Sholapur. The increasing needs of industry and the drying up of other sources, owing to the growth of local industries, have lately strengthened the flow of labour from much more distant areas, particularly the United Provinces.
The Hooghly, with more than double the demand of Bombay for factory labour, is surrounded by the heavily populated districts of Bengal, but does not draw the bulk of its factory workers from them. The Bengalis have less inclination for factory work than other Indian races; when the industries of the Hooghly were being built up, their economic position was not such as to make the terms offered by industry attractive. In recent years they, more than most Indian peoples, have been realising the possibilities which industry offers to skill, and their numbers are increasing steadily in the skilled ranks and in the lighter types of factory labour; but in the jute mills they constitute less than a quarter of the workers. A few mills to the south of Calcutta employ Bengali labour; but to the north of the city in most of the mills the proportion of Bengalis is small, and there are large townships of immigrants. The bulk of the jute mill labour comes from the west of Bihar and the east of the United Provinces, a tract lying from 300 to 500 miles away. Other important recruiting grounds are the equally distant districts in the north of the Madras Presidency and the east of the Central Provinces, while Orissa, which supplies labour of many kinds to Calcutta and its neighbourhood, is also represented in the factories. Of the jute mills it may be said that, if a circle of 250 miles' radius be drawn round Calcutta, the great majority of the workers come from outside that circle; and in the other factories too, a large proportion of the labour is drawn from these outer tracts.