National Commission on Labour (1967)||
For the pre-Independence period, we first turn to the relevant findings of the Whitely Commission in regard to the sources from which labour was drawn and the agencies and methods of recruitment. Regarding the former, its main findings for factory employment were:
(i) The smaller centres everywhere drew on the surrounding rural areas for all the workers they required, except labour demanding special skills.
(ii) The only centres which had reached the stage of being compelled to go far afield for the bulk of their labour were Jamshedpur, Bombay and Hoogli.
(iii) The Indian factory operatives were nearly all migrants from rural areas.
(iv) The recruit to industry continued to regard as his home the place from which he came.1
The Whitley Commission considered the link with the village a distinct asset and recommended that the general aim should be not to snap it but to strengthen it.
The Rege Committee, reporting in 1946, utilised the information collected in the course of family budget inquiries undertaken in the years 1943-44 and concluded that factory workers, at least a majority of them, though immigrant in character, had little stake in agriculture.2 They were pushed rather than pulled to the cities. Their occasional visits to the village homes were more for rest and recuperation than for attending to cultivation. The Rege Committee differed from the Whitley Commission on the need for an industrial worker to retain a nexus with his village. Since most of the workers in industrial towns were landless, the Committee reported:
"From the workers' point of view there is no urgent necessity of going back to the village as often as possible. There is nothing to suggest that conditions of employment, wages, housing, etc., are any better in the village than in the town".3
Subsequent findings, particularly studies undertaken in several urban centres under the auspices of the Research Programmes Committee of the Planning Commission, support this conclusion. In the last twenty years, the 'village nexus' has loosened further both be- cause of the requirements of new industries and the natural increase in the urban labour force. For mines and plantations, both of which have a rural base, the sources of recruitment have remained the same. The proportion of settled labour is, however, increasing for these employments also.