National Commission on Labour (1967)||
31.1 Prior to the thirties, statistical development in the country, including that in the field of labour, was confined to the requirements of administration. Outside administrative routine, no organisation specially for statistical information was built up in any field, although expert committees had examined the needs and made recommendations. Labour research was con-fined to monographic studies about the economic and social conditions of selected groups of workers in urban and rural areas. Family budget inquiries of the nineteen twenties in some centres of the Bombay Presidency, economic surveys in some districts of Bengal which had an even earlier origin, and studies in some districts of United Provinces, Punjab and Madras are other instances in point. Many of these were used for constructing the cost of living index numbers, now named more appropriately as consumer price index numbers.2 We have already pointed out in earlier chapters how the work of the Whitley Commission was hampered in the absence of statistical data and that it underlined the need for collection of labour statistics. That Commission stressed in particular the need for collection of reliable and representative data on income and expenditure of the workers through the use of trained investigators and sound statistical methods. It also recommended enactment of a Statistics Act for collection of data from employers, merchants, etc. From 1937 onwards with popular Governments assuming office under the Government of India Act, 1935, there were several enquiry committees in the provinces which made recommendations to the respective Governments emphasising the need for regular sources of information and statistics. The importance of a coordinated approach to the wider area of other statistics was recognised in 1934 when the Bowley-Robertson Committee3 reported on the possibility of an 'Economic Census of India'. That Committee made a series of recommendations in regard to statistics of production, prices, wages and profits. The creation of the Economic Adviser's office by the Government of India in 1938 gave a further fillip to the implementation of the recommendations of the Bowley-Robertson Committee.
31.2 The .inquiries referred to above served as a useful supplement to statistics and research on local labour problems; they did not, however, add to the regular flow of labour statistics on an all-India basis. The Rau Court of Enquiry 4 (1940) set up by the Government of India to settle the demands of railway employees found itself handicapped for want of data and recommended inter alia conducting of family budget inquiries and compilation of cost of living index numbers for important centres in the country
1 See para 1.6.
2 Indices based on these older inquiries were in use rill recently for determining dearness allowance, an important part of workers' earnings.
3 A scheme for an Economic Census of India with special reference to a census of Production and Re-organisation of Statistics by Dr. A. L. Bowley and Mr. D. H. Robertson, 1934.
4 Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under the Trade Disputes Act to investigate the dearness allowance of railway employees.
on a uniform basis. A Directorate of Cost of Living Index Schemes was set up by the Government of India in 1942 to hold family budget inquiries and compile cost of living index numbers (working class) for important industrial centres on a uniform basis. These inquiries were undertaken during 1943-45. The demands made by the employees of the Directorate General of Posts and Telegraphs were in the meantime investigated by Mr. Justice G. S. Rajadhyaksha.1 Simultaneously, a quick survey among middle class employees of the Central Government was organised at various centres in the country for understanding the levels of living of the employees concerned. The entry of Government in the field of industrial relations in the war years (1939-45) necessitated a more systematic compilation of labour information of a somewhat different type. The Industrial Statistics Act was passed in 1942 to facilitate collection of statistics on (a) matters relating to factories, and (b) certain specified areas of. welfare and conditions of labour.2 Arrangements were also made, within" the resources available, for processing the data flowing from the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Factories Act, 1934, the Payment of Wages' Act, 1936, and the like. One of the important terms of reference of the Rege Committee; (1944) was "to collect data relating inter alia to wages and earnings, employment, housing and social conditions of labour and in particular, of industrial labour, in India."
31.3 In the related field of other statistics' apart from the publications of the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, compilation of systematic information on food and agriculture attracted attention following the experience of the Bengal Famine in 1943. To secure a coordinated view of statistical information, the Government of India set up in 1945 an Interdepartmental Committee to consider the material available and to make recommendations for filling up the gaps in available statistics and for effecting organisational improvement in the collection and collation of data.