National Commission on Labour (1967)||
31.23 As an agency organises itself for collecting certain statistics or information, it discovers new gaps and realises the need for filling them up. The more refinements it introduces in its work, the more crude the existing data appear to be. And in each case, the attempt at improvement has its financial implications. This indeed is the difficult choice which confronts every agency charged with collection of information in any country. Government may, therefore, spend a fair amount in compiling data and still find itself in the unfortunate position of not being able to satisfy public demand for information. Availabilities and gaps in labour statistics, as in the case of all other statistics, have to be viewed in the context of how much the community can afford to spend on satisfying its thirst for information. We would like to cite but one area of labour information to establish the point. Statistics of wages and earnings, for instance, are regularly available for many of the organised industries. These data are collected both under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and under the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953. The scope and concepts for the two sources of information are different. Occupational wage data are available mainly in respect of the manufacturing sector and on an ad hoc basis through the Occupational Wage Surveys conducted by the Labour Bureau.
31.24 In the case of shops and commercial establishments, practically no regular flow of information exists for large areas of the country. Small-scale industries have wide informational gaps. In their case, there is the additional difculty that a uniform definition of small-scale industries is not available. Internal discussions within Government, but at a technical level, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Industry a few years ago were not conclusive for evolving a suitable sampling design for securing meaningful information. For plantations, regular data on wages are available only for West Bengal and Assam. In the case of agricultural labour, enquiries have been ad-hoc, and because of delays in publishing data, they become obsolete by the time they are made available. The coverage of employees and the components included in the statistics of earnings vary from sector to sector in all areas of economic activity.
31.25 Taking all these factors into account the CLS has made two recommendations on this issue:
(i) There is a pressing need for bringing out important economic indicators like the index numbers of employment, wage rates and earnings at quarterly intervals. Expeditious action should be taken to organise these series on a statutory basis. Obviously, timely preparation of these series can be ensured by collecting data from a well-designed sample of establishments;
(ii) In regard to employees in the unorganised sectors, such as, in small shops and commercial establishments and small-scale industries, there are gaps in labour statistics
The question of filling up these gaps is of high priority and the matter should be examined by the Central Government in consultation with State Governments.
We endorse (i) which has been long overdue. We have been told that a scheme for compiling these indices has been held up owing to financial stringency. We hope that these difficulties will be overcome in view of the importance the indices have for framing economic policies in general and labour policy in particular. We should be cautious about (ii) since an earlier attempt in this direction had to be given up after months of experimentation. Notwithstanding the earlier failure we recommend that the subject be further examined. Gaps also exist in another important and more diffused section of the Indian working class viz., rural labour. We recommend that the periodic surveys undertaken by Government to understand the rural situation should be continued and intensified. We recognise the need for action-oriented statistics for this section of labour than for any other. We recommend that when Advisory Bodies draw up a programme for statistics or indices, they should bear in mind the requirements of labour.