Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
These considerations were recognised by the Government of India in 1928 in considering the Draft Conventions and Recommendations on the subject of sickness insurance which had been adopted by the International Labour Conference in the preceding year. They stated that they were satisfied that the introduction in India of any comprehensive scheme on the lines of the Conventions was not practicable in existing conditions.
But, after observing that they were " in entire sympathy with the ideals " underlying sickness insurance legislation, they added " They are satisfied that the need of Indian workers for some provision is in no way less than the need of workers in other countries, and the problem, as it presents itself to them, is one of determining the extent to which the serious practical difficulties that must attend the introduction of any scheme can be overcome ". The letter containing these views was addressed to local Governments, who were asked to investigate the question, the suggestion being made that the examination might be entrusted to small informal committees of employers and employees. The results of the investigation which have been supplied to us show that five committees were appointed. The Madras committee was unable to suggest any satisfactory scheme and favoured actual experiments. The United Provinces committee favoured a scheme for a general provident fund to provide not merely for sickness insurance hut for unemployment, old age, marriages, funerals, religious rites, festivities and other " social events ". The Punjab committee recommended the application of a scheme of sickness insurance, but did not enter into details. The majority of the Central Provinces committee were emphatically of opinion that, any scheme of compulsory insurance was unworkable in practice. A conference held in Burma came to the conclusion that the immediate introduction of even a limited scheme was impracticable. In replying to the Government of India, the Governments of the provinces in which these investigations were held all stressed the financial burdens involved in State assistance to any scheme. This was also emphasised by the Governments of the other major provinces except the Government of Bengal, who took no action in view of the impending appointment of this Commission. Neither this consideration of the question nor the further evidence supplied to us can be said to have brought a solution much nearer. There has been a tendency on the one hand to overlook the difficulties and on the other to be content with stressing them. That, the difficulties in the way are formidable must be recognised. The main difficulties include following the workers to their villages, arranging for proper medical treatment there, and providing for medical certification, in order to enable workers to obtain extended benefits should sickness continue. The lack of faith in modern medical methods is still an important factor, and the administrative expenses likely to be incurred in working on a national. or even a provincial scale a system of insurance based on Western lines would probably be extremely heavy. But none of these arguments diminish the need of the worker for provision during sickness.