Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
The importance of age and mortality statistics to the future programme of social security will be great, as such statistics will be useful for making actuarial calculations in regard to contributions, benefits and reserves, particularly in the case of Old Age Pensions, Invalidity Pensions, etc. Apart from this, the age distribution of a working-class population shows its efficiency in so far as age influences the capacity for work. Age distribution is also an index of the degree in which labour laws relating to employment of children are being enforced. Planning of welfare measures likewise has much to do with the question of age and mortality. The Indian population is notoriously "young", in the sense that it dies young, and that something like 40 per cent. of it falls in the age group 0-15; while the low expectation of life at birth (26.91 years for males and 26. 56 for females) is also a point in confirmation of its comparative "youth". The Indian figures for distribution of age among industrial workers show that the workers belong to the young and middle age-groups to a greater extent than 10 the older age-groups. This is in keeping with the situation as regards the age distribution of the Indian population as a whole, although it must be emphasised that a strict comparison between the two will not be valid in view of the fact that the age distribution of workers, referring as it does to the economically active age-groups, must show a predominance of the age-groups between (say) 15 and 55 years.
The personal investigations conducted by the Committee through their ad hoc survey staff in various industries and areas and the replies received from employers, and worker's associations and other bodies showed that neither employers nor workers attached any great importance to vital statistics, age data, length of service, sickness record, etc. There are no statutory obligations laid, on employers to collect information on such matters. So far as age is concerned,
the workers themselves have no clear notion about it as a result of their illiterate and there is always a tendency to give round figures. In the Indian villas Registration of births and deaths is not as careful as it should be so that certification of age is also a doubtful proposition. The need for having a proper system of vital statistics was stressed by the Royal Commission, who drew attention to some of the defects in the present system of registration.1 It does not appear, however, that there has been any great improvement in recording of vital statistics, and as the Census Commissioner remarks in his Census Report for 1941 (Vol. I, Tables, P. 19), India is still far from "vital statistics-conscious''.
The data available to the Committee through direct investigation were therefore, rather scanty. Accordingly in what follows they have been supplemented by other data collected separately by other persons and bodies. Bombay Labour Office enquiry (conducted in 1933) into working-class family budgets for Bombay and Ahmedabad gives figures for age distribution in mix working-class populations in the two cities. Likewise, Mr. R. G. Gokhale, Labour Officer, Millowners' Association, Bombay, in a Note which was made available to us, has derived valuable statistics of age distribution from workmen's service records maintained by some of the member mills belonging to that Associate These figures are more recent and relate to the year 1941. Finally, the Rep on Health Insurance by Professor B. P. Adarkar contains (in Appendix V a few useful tables giving the age distribution of industrial workers. The statistical material, which follows, is based upon all these sources.
Figures were available in respect of the following concerns are-
Details regarding concerns for which age data were available.
|Unit No.||Name of Concern||Province or State||Industry||Number of Workers|
|1||The Coorg Tea Factory||. Coorg||Tea||31|
|2||Titaghur Paper Mills, Ltd||. Bengal||Paper||2, 835|
|3||The Furniture Factory||Baroda||Engineering||51|
|4||Tinplate Company of India||. Bihar||"||3, 708|
|5||Madras Corporation (Waterworks)||Madras||"||69|
|6||Assam Oil Co. Ltd.||. Assam||Mineral Oil||8, 040|
|7||Andhra Paper Mills Ltd.||. Madras||Paper||716|
|8||Lakshmiratan Cotton Milk||. U.P.||Cotton Textile||3, 748|
|9||Rajalakshmi Mills Ltd.||Madras||"||1, 288|
|10||Madras Electric Tramways||"||Transport||340|
|11||Salem-Erode Electric Co.||Engineering||128|
[Data for Units 1-5 were available directly to the Committee; those for Units 6-11, taken from the Adarkar Report.]
In the above concerns, the percentage age distribution of workers (20 males and females) was as shown in the following two tables:
Report p. 249.
Age Distribution of Workers in Five Concerns.
Percentage Age Distribution of Workers in Six Concerns.
Age Composition of Workers on Plantations.
Age Composition of Sampled Workers in Carpet-weaving and Coir-matting Industries.
It is difficult to draw any definite conclusions from the foregoing tables. Generally speaking, it appears that the "model" age group falls between 26 and 40 years. As regards entry into service, most workers appear to enter the industrial field in large numbers between 21 and 25 years. After the age of 40 there is a gradual decline in the frequency of workers. However, there is seldom any upper age limit. Workers drag on even beyond the age of 55 and retire voluntarily or are discharged, mostly without earning pensions
The figures also "how that employment of children is negligible or nonexistent in these concerns. However, it must be remembered that the concerns supplying figures are more law-abiding than some of the others and also that employment of children is almost always clandestine. The lower age limit for employment in regulated factories, mines, railways, port trusts and certain minor industries is fixed respectively by the Factories Act, the Indian Mines Act and the Employment of Children Act. The lower limit is 12 years in the case of factories under the Factories Act ; 15 years in that of mines under the Mines Act ; 15 years for railways, and port trusts and 12 years for bidi-making, carpet-weaving, cement, cloth-printing, dyeing and weaving, matches, explosives and fire-works, mica cutting and splitting, shellac, and tanning and wool cleaning, under the Employment of Children Act as amended in 1939. Apart from this, the Tea Districts Emigrant Labour Act, 1932, which is applicable to labour emigrating to the tea districts of Assam, prohibits the assisted emigration of a child (below 16 years), but permits a child to accompany a parent or other adult relative on whom he is dependent. Thus, actual employment of children on plantations is not prohibited, but only their assisted emigration. We are not concerned here with the details, as these are dealt with else where both in this Report and in our ad hoc survey Reports. The important fact that has emerged from the investigations is that in various industries, mainly smaller industries, the prohibition of employment of children is disregarded quite openly, and owing to the inadequacy of the inspection staff it has become difficult to enforce the relevant provisions of the law. Consequently, though figures are not likely to be available for such employment, it may well be taken for granted in certain industries and areas.
It may be interesting to consider the other data available, viz, those from the Bombay Labour Office enquiry and from Mr. R. G. Gokhale's Note, to which reference was made earlier. The Bombay Labour Office enquiry was a family-budget enquiry and this was conducted in Bombay between September 1932, and June; 1933, and in Ahmedabad between October, 1933 and January, 1935, and covered not only cotton textile workers but also workers in other industries, although in both the centres, the former predominated (64-47 per cent. in Bombay and 82-75 per cent. in Ahmedabad). The following table-gives the percentage age distribution for the two centres :
Age Distribution of Workers in Bombay and Ahmedabad
|Age Group||According to Bombay||According to Ahmedabad|
|Family Budget Enquiry||Family Budget Enquiry|
It appears from the above table that the age distribution is more favourable to the younger age-groups in Ahmedabad than in Bombay. This is probably explained by the fact that the labour drawn to Bombay from the Konkan and Deccan districts is mainly adult, while the labour engaged in the Ahmedabad industries, being drawn from the villages round about the city, contains a larger element of adolescents and is local to a greater extent than in the case of Bombay. In this connection, it may be worth while to compare these figures with figures in the previous table for Units 8 and (both cotton textile mills, one at Cawnpore and the other at Coimbatore The predominance of adolescent labour in the Coimbatore mill is remarkable as compared to the Cawnpore mill, which more or less follows the pattern of the above table.
Finally, attention may be drawn to the results obtained by Mr. R. G Gokhale from a study of workmen's service records in 19 Bombay cotton textile mills in Bombay. The following table shows the relative position of the different age groups in those mills in the year 1940.
Age distribution in 19 Bombay Cotton Mills
|Age Groups||Men||%||Women||%||Total %|
|Below 20 years||880||2.8||133||2. I||1, 013||2.9|
|2025||. 5, 728||18.1||854||14-0||6, 582||17.5|
|2630||7, 933||25.1||1, 398||23. I||9, 331||24.8|
|3135||6, 790||21.5||1, 294||21.3||8, 084||21.5|
|3640||5, 269||16.7||1, 032||17.1||6, 301||16.6|
|4145||2, 539||3.0||687||11.5||3, 226||8.5|
|4650||1, 473||4.7||438||8.2||1, 911||5.1|
|Over 60 years||100||0.3||18||0.0||118||0.3|
It will be seen that the age composition in this table is more or less similar to that in the Labour Office tables. As between the Bombay figures for 1932-33 and 1940], available in these two tables, however, there is now a greater concentration of workers in the 36-40 age group than before and the proportion of workers below has fallen off considerably.
Mr. Gokhale has also studied the age distribution of workers in the case of different departments in mills and drawn interesting conclusions. The following table gives the age composition:
Age Distribution in Various Departments of Mills
|Departments||Below 25 years||25 to
|Below 25 years||25 to 40 years||Over
|1.||Mixing to Speed Frame||17.7||65.1||17.2||9.3||58.3||32.5|
|3.||Winding and Reeling||31.0||52.2||16.8||17.0||62.4||20.6|
|4.||Weaving Shed||16.7||68.3||15-0||27.3*||72. 7*|
|5.||Engineering, Mechanics, Watch and Ward||13.2||59.9||.25.9||7.0*||67.0*||26 .0*|
|All Departments||20 9||63.3||15.8||16.2||61.5||22.5|
*Based on very small numbers of workers.
In the above table, the highest percentage of workers in the group "below 25 years" occurs in the Winding and Reeling departments, in which mainly new entrants, generally young are employed. The lowest percentage in the same age-group occurs in the case of Engineering, Mechanics and Watch and Ward departments, as may be expected, because here adults are largely employed.
As regards mortality figures, not a single concern or employer has been able to supply any data. Only two concerns have given some sort of reply to the questions relating to mortality. F.F. Chrestien & Co. Ltd., Domchanch, a concern engaged in mica mining and mica manufacturing in Bihar, has stated that the expectation of life amongst its workers is about 45 years. This looks a suspiciously high figure, even assuming that the expectation of life in question is not at birth but at a later year. The Bangalore Woollen, Cotton and Silk Mills have given the mortality figure as 5 per 1, 000 workers during the year 1943. Not being able to secure any reliable figures for mortally, therefore, we have to turn elsewhere for this information. The following figures give a broad picture of the fertility and mortality for the entire population in India and other countries:
Birth and Death Rates, Infant Mortality and Expectation of Life
|Country||Birth and Death rates per 1, 000||Infant Mortality Deaths under 1 year per' 1, 000 live births||Expectation at birth of life (years)|
|Canada||20. 3||9 . 6 61||38.96||6o. 73|
|U.SA.||17.3||10.6 48||60 . 60||64.50|
|Germany||20. 3||12.3 60||59.86||62.81|
|U.K. ....||15.3||12.2 53||60 18||64.40|
|Australia||17.7||9.9 38||63.48||67. 14|
|Japan . .||27.0y||17.6 114||46.92||49.63|
|India ....||33.0||21.8 167||26.91||26. 6|
The above table reveals that, considered from the demographic point of view, the Indian population is a C-3 population. The labour force of industries, which is derived from such a population, must share the characteristics of such a population, viz., high birth, death and infant mortality rate and a low expectation of life.
The following table gives an idea as to the comparative position as regards the expectation of life at various ages in India and England in the recent past. The figures are from the Census Report for 1931, as no figures were published in that Report for 1941 in this connection:
Comparative Expectation of Life at Decennial Ages for India and England
|0||23.67||24.59||23 .63||22 65||26 91||44.07||46 04||55.62|
|10||34.00||35.46||34. 73||33 36||36 38||49.65||52. 35||44.64|
|20||28.55||29 .24||28. 59||27. 46||29. 7||41.04||43. 67||45.71|
|40||18.90||18.75||17.91||18 01||18 60||25.65||27. 27||29.10|
|50||13.93||14.28||13. 59||13 97||14 31||18.89||19. 85||21.36|
|60||9.25||10.12||9.53||10 00||10 25||12.90||13. 83||14.36|
|70||5.44||6.49||5.80||6 19||6 35||8.02||8. 25||8.75|
|80||2.87||3.69||3. 07||3 06||3 13||4.40||4. 64||4.93|
|90||1.00||1.69||1 .23||1 15||I 12||2.32||2. 37||2.82|
It will appear from the above table that the expectation of life goes on improving up to 10 years and then falls steadily. This is mainly due to the fact that mortality is very high between 0-5 years, the age-group which accounts for nearly 56 per cent. of the total deaths in India. As Mr. L. S. Vaidyanathan, in his Actuarial Report included in the Census Report of 1931, remarks, "the primary cause of the abnormally heavy mortality experienced by the masses in India is traceable to very low economic status".