Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In entering on the discussion of possible methods of raising the standard of living, we are faced by two main facts, poverty and the low level of efficiency. So far as efficiency is concerned, comparisons are available of the number of workers required in India and in other countries, Western and Eastern, to produce certain quantities of material in a given time, and some of these will be found in the evidence. We do not quote them here, because, apart from their limited scope, it is impossible to say that such quantitative measurements have taken account of all the other factors involved, such as differences in machinery, organisation, etc. But it must be admitted that the Indian industrial worker produces less per unit than the worker in any other country claiming to rank as a leading industrial nation. The causes of this low efficiency are complex. Some are to be found in the climate of India and other factors; but a powerful influence is exercised everywhere by the low standard of living. Inefficiency is attributable to lack of both physical energy and mental vigour. These are to a large extent different aspects of the same defect, for physical weakness cuts at the root of ambition, initiative and desire. This weakness arises from the hardships to which the worker who starts with an indifferent physique, is subjected and especially his unsatisfactory diet and the conditions under which he, is generally compelled to live. These hardships and conditions are mainly the result of inability to afford anything better, and this in its turn arises from low efficiency. Thus poverty leads to bad conditions, bad conditions to inefficiency and inefficiency to poverty. We believe in attempting to break the vicious circle at as many points as possible. There must be an endeavour to enhance efficiency, to heighten earnings and to improve the conditions of life. We have endeavoured throughout to keep in view the question of raising the efficiency of the worker. The recommendations relating to working conditions in all the industries discussed have been designed in the belief that they will lead to a permanent increase in the general level of efficiency of the Indian worker, and this part of the ground need not be covered again. We must observe, however, that, in looking to increased efficiency as the main source of a higher standard of living, we have in view more than an increase in the efficiency of the worker. The range of efficiency on the part of employers in India is very wide. There are enterprises that will stand comparison with any outside India; there are others whose inefficiency is obvious even to the casual observer.
We are anxious not to enter on a field which lies outside our proper functions; but we have been struck by the contrasts presented in industrial and commercial organisation. We also found many employers unaware of the successful experiments of others in the labour field. Indeed, many of our recommendations are no more than the advocacy on a general scale of those ideas of individual employers which have proved successful in application.