Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
So far as we have been able to judge, existing legislation has had remarkably little effect in this direction. This is partly due to geographical and climatic features. It is obvious that the location of mining industries and those connected with them and of plantations is determined largely by natural forces. In the case of the railways, the problem does not arise, and a large number of other industries have their choice of location restricted by factors which lie outside their control. While some of these industries exist both in British India and in Indian States, there is no evidence of any handicap arising from differences in labour laws. It is in respect of some of the factory industries that the choice of location is widest. But even here it is difficult to find evidence of any loss sustained by industrialists in British India on account of legislative differences, or any tendency to move to Indian States, at any rate so far as large factories are concerned. In certain centres of British India which lie in close proximity to Indian States, there have recently been important developments of industry which, if industrialists had felt unduly hampered by labour laws, could have taken place across the border. It is worth repeating in this connection that good conditions of labour need not hamper industrial development. The big improvement effected in British India since the war is in our view partly responsible for the disappearance of the scarcity of labour which handicapped the factory industries in previous decades. Plentiful and efficient labour will gravitate to places where it receives fair treatment, and many measures for the improvement of conditions arc directly profitable to the employer. In respect of small factories, there would seem to have been in one or two limited localities a tendency to develop industry in States to avoid the regulations of British India. For example, in the Punjab there is said to be a tendency to move cotton ginning factories to Indian States to avoid restrictions on hours of work and child labour. In Rajputana the same industry as said to be developing in the States at the expense of Ajmer-Merwara, a very small province surrounded by States. We do not consider that our recommendations will have any general tendency to give an advantage to Indian States at the expense of British India. They are intended rather to lead to a steady and stable development of industry within British India. We must recognise, however, that there are danger points, particularly in respect of very small establishments. The bringing under regulation of those workshops which do not employ power is a case in point. Some of the industries which will be affected by the adoption of our recommendations are not likely to develop in Indian States; but there seem to us to be distinct dangers that, in respect of others, persons will seek to exploit, beyond the bounds of British India, the labour of young children, and that owners working within British India with children of reasonable age may find themselves handicapped in consequence.