National Commission on Labour (1967)||
28.12 A recognised feature of rural employment is its seasonally. Intensity of employment varies according to seasons. Shortage of labour is acutely felt during peak agricultural seasons in several areas and a large portion of labour remains unemployed or under-employed during the slack season. The seasonal aspect affects both wage-paid and self-employed persons; both work below capacity or less than what they are capable of doing or are willing to do. The quantitative estimates of changes in under-employment/un-employment in rural areas have shown differences according to concepts and definitions used. The Fourth Five
Year Plan Draft has, therefore, not subscribed to any estimate nor has it advanced another of its own. The more disturbing part of rural idleness is under-employment; and in the rural context both unemployment and under-employment get inextricably mixed. Either of it can be voluntary or involuntary and this adds to complications in analysing the situation. But statistics apart, in the years since Independence, the developments in rural areas taken together indicate that some relief in terms of more work has already reached them. Its effect may not be significant, but close observers of the rural scene, some of whom appeared before us, have expressed the same view.
28.13 From the evidence at our disposal it appears that the trend towards reduction in under-employment has strengthened since 1961. Our own village studies also point to the same direction. The extent of improvement is admittedly not uniform. In areas where farmers have chosen to take advantage of new agricultural inputs, agricultural labour has been provided with work more or less throughout the year. We consider this a welcome sign, particularly because such areas will go on increasing as a matter of Governmental policy. In the context of the larger number of persons seeking employment in rural areas due to population increase and the limitations on agricultural development, even these new employment avenues will be inadequate.
28.14 We recognise that it is not within our terms of reference to discuss the problem of creation of employment opportunities. And yet one cannot escape referring to it, because fuller employment for agricultural labour is a major step for minimising under-employment of the ever-growing rural labour force. We deal, therefore, specifically with the possibilities of absorbing labour in rural areas, taking into account the more recent development in agricultural production and the manpower requirements consequent thereon. According to the last Census, the total rural labour force in the age group 15-59 was 136.6 millions. Among them, agricultural workers accounted for 113.8 millions. We concentrate on this age group, because with the expansion of educational facilities in rural areas and rising levels of living, labour force participation rate in the age-groups '0-14' and '60 and above' may decline. The rural labour force will increase from 137.6 to 189.8 millions between 1961-76; about half the increase has already taken place. The above projection has taken into account the possibility of migration from rural to urban areas. This is brought out in the following table.
TABLE 28.4 Distribution of Additional Labour Force by Sector of Activity
(Figures in Millions)
|Particulars||1961||1976||Increase 1961-76||Percentage increase in 1976 over 1961|
|(a) Agricultural ........||116.5||138.6||22.1||19.0|
|(b) Non-agricultural .......||45.7||92.4||46.7||102.2|
|(a) Agricultural ........||113.8||135.3||21.5||18.9|
|(b) Non-agricultural .......||24.1||54.5||30.4||126.1|
NOTE : Agricultural workers in rural areas for 1976 are estimated on the basis of the 1961 population. Source : Perspective Planning Division Planning Commission.
28.15 An examination of the table will show that in the 15 years between 1961 and 1976, increase in the non-agricultural working force will have to be 102 per cent and over a wider base as against a corresponding increase of only about 36 per cent over a smaller base between 1951 and 1961. This means that the rate of absorption of labour outside agriculture between 1961-76 will have to be roughly double of that witnessed in the years 1951-61, during which at least, for a part of the decade, the stress was on industrialisation. Even then the number of workers depending on agriculture for their livelihood will increase substantially, from 116.5 millions in 1961 to 138.6 millions in 1976 i.e., by 22 millions.
28.16 All this implies that a break-through in agricultural technology leading to higher productivity per acre and per worker through intensification of farming is a precondition for dealing with the problem of agricultural employment at increasing levels of earnings. The 'Green Revolution" is reported to be currently spreading. But its scope and pace may be limited by the present organisation of agriculture that has for long struck a balance with low productivity. We expect that highest priority will be given to all development measures raising agricultural productivity through labour-intensive scientific farming, as these alone can increase the employment and earnings of agricultural workers. We would like to emphasise particularly such organisational and institutional reforms as would make scientific agricultural technology accessible to the small farmers and make its benefits shared equitable by agricultural workers.