Bookmark and Share
Overview

More than two decades after liberalization, the spoils of India’s massive GDP growth are still unevenly distributed. Service is the economy’s fastest growing sector, contributing 57.7% in GDP growth. The next largest, the industrial sector, accounts for 27.8% of the GDP growth in 2010-11. Out of this manufacturing was the single largest contributor, with 15.8% in the GDP growth.

 

Even though this growth has drawn laborers from across the country as migrant workers to build brand new metros, flyovers and gleaming office blocks, the progress hasn’t trickled down to rural, backward regions and small towns where they grew up.  As a result many young men and women have had to leave India’s hinterlands to find work.

 

The 11th Five Year Plan identified this imbalance and emphasized the need to launch special programs to eliminate labor market inequalities. During the 11th plan years – 2007–2012) several schemes were launched. They include the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna, Swarnjyanti Shahari Rojgar Yojna and Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program.

 

However, India’s industrial and infrastructure sectors are mostly informal and often rely on day laborers. As a result, modern India has struggled to govern these industries. With labor market being unorganized, there is a growing need to safeguard the workers’ rights as they are very vulnerable to changes in the economic and social climate. Several schemes and organizations such as Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojna, Unorganised Workers Social Security Act (2008) and Employees State Insurance Corporation have been formed.

 

Development of skill is also crucial for achieving a higher growth rate. There are several policies and bodies to enhance this. The number of government and Private Industrial Training Institutes has grown from 6,079 in 2006-07 to 8,800 in 2010–11. Ambitious target for setting up of 1,500 ITI’s, 5,000 Skill Development Centers and 15 Advanced Training Institutes has been taken up. Modernization of Employment Exchanges is also being encouraged.


more
History:

The ministry’s origins date back to 1854, when the British Raj created the Public Works Department to oversee labor-related matters. As India became more industrialized at the turn of the 20th century, labor-related matters were transferred to the Department of Commerce and Industry, which was created in 1905.

 

India became the permanent, non-elective and founding member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919. In 1921, Department of Industries was created to regulate the onset of industrialization. Two years later, in 1923, it became the Department of Industries and Labour. That same year, in order to ensure adherence to ILO regulations on labor, public works, mines, electricity boilers, explosives, and factories, the Department of Labour was separated from the Department of Industries and Labour. In 1946, the Department of Labour was divided in the Department of Works, Mines and Power and the Department of Labour.

Before Independence, the Department of Labour’s focused on protect the interests of British Employees. Post Independence, to encourage a greater partnership between workers and employers, the Ministry of Labour was formed in 1947 with a Cabinet Minister in charge. In 1957 it was renamed the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

 

In 1966, Department of Rehabilitation was merged with the Ministry of Labour. In 1977, the matters related to Docks and Dockworkers were transferred to the Ministry of Shipping and Transport. In 1979, the Coal Mines Provident Fund and the Coal Mines Provident Fund were transferred to the Department of Coal. In 1986, the administration of Cine Workers Welfare Cess Act was transferred from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the Ministry of Labour.

more
What it Does:

The Labour and Employment Ministry is mandated to ensure decent working conditions. The ministry has taken up several projects to improve workers’ quality of life and ensure that the child labor is banned from hazardous industries. It also aims to make India’s labor force more employable by enhancing their skill set.

 

One of the ministry’s main responsibilities is safeguarding the interests of poor and vulnerable workers. The ministry works towards ensuring a healthy working environment.  It is also entrusted with improving general sanitation conditions at work. The ministry is also responsible for formulating and implementing labor rules. It also arbitrates industrial disputes.

 

One of the ministry’s important functions is enhance worker’s skills through technical education. The ministry also maintains and publishes statistics.

 

Attached Bodies or Autonomous Bodies

Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET)

The Directorate General of Employment and Training is the apex organization for development and coordination of vocational training programs. This includes women’s vocational training and employment services. DGET policies are formulated by the central government and administered by the state governments. DGET also operates Employment Exchanges in various states. It also coordinates with state governments to deploy various technical programs in the Industrial Training Institutes.

 

Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC)

Established in 1945, the Office of the Labour Commissioner prevents and settles industrial disputes, enforces labor laws and promotes workers’ welfare in central government-run companies. The office’s main responsibility is ensuring compliance with various Labour laws. It also settles disputes in accordance with the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The office also fixes and revises the minimum wages for workers as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. In addition to these responsibilities, the CDC collects statistical. The organization has 20 Regional Labour Commissioners.

 

Labour Bureau

The Labour Bureau has been formed to collate, collect and publish statistics related to labor and employment. These include information on wages, earnings, productivity, absenteeism, labor turnover, industrial relations, working and living conditions and evaluation of working of various labor enactments among others.  The bureau is primarily responsible for calculating and maintaining data for important indices such as Consumer Price Index for industrial sector, agriculture sector and for the rural labors. It manages various other data such as retail price indices. The bureau also conducts research and surveys related to organized and unorganized sectors.

 

Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes  (DGFASLI)

The Office of DGFASLI was setup in 1945 as the Chief Inspector of Factories. DGFASLI is headquartered in Mumbai and has associated Central and Regional Labour institutes. The  DGFASLI’s main function is helping the ministry formulate national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks. It also advises factories on safety, health, efficiency and wellbeing in the workplace.

 

Office of Directorate General, Mines Safety, Dhanbad (ODGMSD)

The Office of Directorate General Mines Safety is a Regulatory Agency in matters pertaining to occupational safety, health and welfare of persons employed in mines such as coal, metalliferous and oil mines. The main function of the office is to enforce the mines act and other legislations, such as Indian Electricity Act. It sets standards for workers in mines and tracks the compliance of the same.

 

Central Government Industrial Tribunal and Labour Courts (CGIT)

The Central Government Industrial Tribunal and Labour Courts were established to enforce the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. There are 22 CGITs nationwide to adjudicate industrial disputes.

 

Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)

The ESIC has been set up to provide socioeconomic security to workers in the organized sector. It aims to cover the workers and their dependents during periods of medical illness, physical distress and temporary or permanent disability. The ESI Act applies to businesses with more than 10 employees.

 

Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO)

The EPFO is the world largest provident fund. The organization aims to extend the reach and the quality of publicly managed old-age income security programs. EPFO acts as a provident fund manager and is enforces and implements the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

 

V.V. Giri National Labour Institute (VVGNLI)

VVGNLI was founded in 1962 to coordinate and research unorganized labor. In 1972, the institute was registered as a society. In 1995, the institute was renamed in honor of former President V.V. Giri, a renowned trade union leader. The institutes aims improve labor relations as the central feature of their development agenda. The institute focuses on research, training and education and publication of various magazines. The Union Labour and Employment Minister is the President of VVGNIL’s Governing Council.

 

Central Board for Workers Education (CBWE)

Central Board for Workers Education was setup in 1958 to conduct training programs to empower workers. It aims to encourage leadership in workers so they can contribute to nation building. The CBWE also trains trade union members so they can conduct worker education.

more
Where Does the Money Go

A total of Rs. 1248.25 crore ($237.22 million USD) was allocated to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2011-12. From this, Labour has been allocated Rs. 704.18 crore ($133.82 million USD). This includes allocation for research and statistics; industrial relations; working conditions and safety; labor welfare schemes; social security for labor; labor education; rehabilitation of bonded labor; and improvement in working condition of child women labor. A total of Rs. 408.67 crore ($77.66 million USD) has been allocated to Employment and Training. Apart from this, Rs. 5.40 crore ($1.026 million USD) has been put towards the welfare of SC, ST and other backward classes and allocation of Rs. 130 crore ($24.71 million USD) has been made as a lump sum provision for projects in Northeast India and Sikkim.

more
Controversies:

Child Labor in Mines

The constitution of India ensures that no child below the age of 14 is allowed to work, especially in a job as hazardous as coal mining. However, use of child labor is a major problem in coalmines, where the coal mafia routinely traffics children from Nepal, Bangladesh and Assam. According to the NGO Impulse Network, based in the Northeastern state of Meghalaya, over 70,000 children work in mines in that state’s Jaintia Hills District alone. The issue is made more difficult to police by that fact that state is poorly governed, suffers from subpar infrastructure, and is remote so rescuing kids from the mine is difficult.

 

Meghalaya: Braveheart Fights against Child Labour in Coal Mines (by Arijit Sen – CNN IBN)

India's Child Coal Miners (by Daniel Etter, Christian Science Monitor)

Indian Child Miners Unaffected by Labour Laws (by Julien Bouissou, Guardian Weekly)

 

Central Board of Workers Education Director Accused of Sexual Harassment

The Labour Minister has suspended the Dr. Arvind Drave, director of Central Board of Workers Education (CBWE). The official statement released by the ministry says that the director has been suspended due to pending departmental enquiry. However insiders allege that the suspension is for complaints of sexual harassment lodged against him. This is also isn’t the first time Drave has faced similar allegations. During an earlier posting in Goa, he was accused sexually harassing his co-worker, a charge that might have been drawn much attention had the woman not been married to a member of the Legislative Assembly.

 

Union Labour Minister 'Suspends' Central Board of Workers' Education Director Drave (Times of India)

More Harassment Cases Surface at Central Board of Workers’ Education (Times of India)

more
Debate:

Quota for Promotions for SC/ST

As with many issues in India, the debate over reservations for Scheduled Caste/Schedules Tribes in government services (more commonly called the bureaucracy) comes down to vote bank politics between Uttar Pradesh’s two main parties: Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party and the Samajwadi Party, whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav just beat Mayawati to become UP’s Chief Minister. The Union cabinet has approved a proposal that will allow for reservation in promotions for Scheduled Casts/Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.  The law would still maintain a policy of heavily recruiting both OBC’s and SC/ST’s but it would only set aside top positions for Scheduled Castes, who are commonly referred to as Dalits and Scheduled Tribes, commonly called Tribals. Being a Constitutional Amendment Bill, it needs to be passed with minimum two-thirds majority through both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Since the both the BSP and the SP are so-called outside supporters of the Congress Party’s UPA II coalition, Congress needs to tread lightly and keep both sides happy.

 

For Quota

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party, whose vote bank is mostly comprised of Dalits, is championing the passage of the bill. Advocates for Dalits argue that untouchables are still far disproportionately poorer than the vast majority of Indians. For Mayawati, it’s also a vote bank issue, as she wants to deliver the prospect of these jobs to her constituents.

 

SC/ST Job Promotions Quota Bill Introduced in RS (Zee News Bureau)

 

Against Quota

The Samajwadi Party vehemently opposes this bill in India’s parliament. For the Samajwadi Party, whose vote bank is comprised of other backward classes or OBC’s, it’s also a question of looking out for the rights of their supporters. Though OBCs have gained some ground recently, India’s bureaucracy is still dominated by upper castes. Mulayam Singh Yadav is loath to support a measure that he feels will further marginalize his supporters. 

 

SC/ST Quota Bill Fails the Test (by Rajeev Dhavan, Mail Today)

Samajwadi Party Opposes Govt's Plan to Enable SC, ST Promotion Quota (by Nistula Hebbar, Economic Times)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Expedite Cases in Labor Courts

India’s industrial labor courts and tribunals are clogged, with a backlog of 13,642 cases. For workers waiting for redress of harassment complaints or suing for back wages, the system fails them. Many Indians are now calling for reforms to ensure fast processing of these cases. A recent case covered in the Hindu detailed the struggle of a worker who has been chasing wages owed since 1997. Even a recent State Department report cited India’s judicial backlog as a downside to investing there. “According to the World Bank, India continues to be the sixth slowest country in the world in the number of days it takes to resolve a dispute. Indian courts are understaffed and lack the technology to address the backlog of unsettled cases.”

 

Down and Out on India’s Shop Floor (by Aman Sethi, The Hindu)

2012 Investment Climate Statement – India (U.S. Department of State)

 

Adequately Enforce Child Labor Laws

Even though the government has banned child labor, it has been unable to completely abolish it. While much of the focus is on horrifying images of child coal miners in India’s Northeast, one doesn’t have to travel that far. In Delhi, restaurants commonly employ children to chop onions or knead roti dough or even deliver food to people’s homes.

 

In many middle class homes, child servants are essentially trafficked by ostensible placement companies.  The middle class families pay the placement agency, which in turn is supposed to pay the children. In reality, they rarely pay the children. The children are also unable to leave what often turns out to be exploitative and often sexually and physically abusive homes. They are frequently trafficked from poor states like Jharkhand. They don’t have the resources to return and if they did, it would be difficult for them to find their way home.

The practice is so common in Delhi that families who keep these children feel comfortable enough to travel to shopping malls with them. Every so often, the newspapers are filled with reports of horrifying abuse and the topic briefly makes headlines. It generally disappears just as quickly.

 

The failure of government to check such practices highlights the need for strengthening enforcement of Child Labor laws and also the need for a strong program to rehabilitate children and their families. The enforcement of the Child labor (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 1986 remains lackluster. The police, who are often more concerned with soliciting bribes rather than enforcing the law, do little to stop the rampant trafficking of children. When they do intervene, it’s often at the behest of foreign and domestic NGOs that rescue and rehabilitate these children. As in many sectors of India, the NGOs fill the government’s void. This is especially true in the rehabilitation of the rescued children.

 

 Despite some very high profile cases, India has one of the highest rates of child employment in the world. As per the 2001 census, there are 12 million child laborers in India. Experts, however, believe the real number is much higher.

 

Govt Slow in Enforcing Child Labor Law, Reveals RTI (by Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times)

India Targets the Traffickers who Sell Children into Slavery  (by Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer)

Child Slavery in India in Picture (by Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer)

more
Former Directors:

Sahib Singh Verma

Sahib Singh Verma was the Union Minister of Labour from 2002 to 2007. He was a senior Bhartiya Janta Party member and also served as senior vice-president in the Party. Verma began his political career as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker. He was elected to the Delhi Municipal Corporation in 1997 as a Janata Party candidate. In 1983, he was re-elected as a BJP Candidate. After winning the Assemble elections, he was appointed the Education and Development minister of Delhi. He was the Chief Minister of Delhi for the period 1996-1998. Verma died in a car accident in on June 30, 2007.

 

 

Satyanarayan Jatiya

Born in 1946 in Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya served as the Union Minister of Labour from November 1999 to September 2001.

 

Jatiya completed his bachelors, masters and doctorate from MP’s Vikram University.  He became a party secretary with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a forerunner of the BJP. In 1977, he was elected to the Madhya Pradesh state

 

He was first elected to the Madhya Pradesh state legislative assembly in 1977. In 1980, the same year the Bharatiya Janata Party was founded, he entered the Lok Sabha.

 

Representing the Ujjain constituency of Madhya Pradesh, he has been elected to six terms of Lok Sabha and apart from Labour Minister, he’s held the portfolios of Union Minister of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation and Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. 

 

Official Biography

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Founded: 1957
Annual Budget: Rs. 1,248.25 crore ($237.22 million USD)
Employees: 200

Ministry of Labour and Employment

  • Latest News
Bookmark and Share
Overview

More than two decades after liberalization, the spoils of India’s massive GDP growth are still unevenly distributed. Service is the economy’s fastest growing sector, contributing 57.7% in GDP growth. The next largest, the industrial sector, accounts for 27.8% of the GDP growth in 2010-11. Out of this manufacturing was the single largest contributor, with 15.8% in the GDP growth.

 

Even though this growth has drawn laborers from across the country as migrant workers to build brand new metros, flyovers and gleaming office blocks, the progress hasn’t trickled down to rural, backward regions and small towns where they grew up.  As a result many young men and women have had to leave India’s hinterlands to find work.

 

The 11th Five Year Plan identified this imbalance and emphasized the need to launch special programs to eliminate labor market inequalities. During the 11th plan years – 2007–2012) several schemes were launched. They include the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna, Swarnjyanti Shahari Rojgar Yojna and Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program.

 

However, India’s industrial and infrastructure sectors are mostly informal and often rely on day laborers. As a result, modern India has struggled to govern these industries. With labor market being unorganized, there is a growing need to safeguard the workers’ rights as they are very vulnerable to changes in the economic and social climate. Several schemes and organizations such as Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojna, Unorganised Workers Social Security Act (2008) and Employees State Insurance Corporation have been formed.

 

Development of skill is also crucial for achieving a higher growth rate. There are several policies and bodies to enhance this. The number of government and Private Industrial Training Institutes has grown from 6,079 in 2006-07 to 8,800 in 2010–11. Ambitious target for setting up of 1,500 ITI’s, 5,000 Skill Development Centers and 15 Advanced Training Institutes has been taken up. Modernization of Employment Exchanges is also being encouraged.


more
History:

The ministry’s origins date back to 1854, when the British Raj created the Public Works Department to oversee labor-related matters. As India became more industrialized at the turn of the 20th century, labor-related matters were transferred to the Department of Commerce and Industry, which was created in 1905.

 

India became the permanent, non-elective and founding member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919. In 1921, Department of Industries was created to regulate the onset of industrialization. Two years later, in 1923, it became the Department of Industries and Labour. That same year, in order to ensure adherence to ILO regulations on labor, public works, mines, electricity boilers, explosives, and factories, the Department of Labour was separated from the Department of Industries and Labour. In 1946, the Department of Labour was divided in the Department of Works, Mines and Power and the Department of Labour.

Before Independence, the Department of Labour’s focused on protect the interests of British Employees. Post Independence, to encourage a greater partnership between workers and employers, the Ministry of Labour was formed in 1947 with a Cabinet Minister in charge. In 1957 it was renamed the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

 

In 1966, Department of Rehabilitation was merged with the Ministry of Labour. In 1977, the matters related to Docks and Dockworkers were transferred to the Ministry of Shipping and Transport. In 1979, the Coal Mines Provident Fund and the Coal Mines Provident Fund were transferred to the Department of Coal. In 1986, the administration of Cine Workers Welfare Cess Act was transferred from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the Ministry of Labour.

more
What it Does:

The Labour and Employment Ministry is mandated to ensure decent working conditions. The ministry has taken up several projects to improve workers’ quality of life and ensure that the child labor is banned from hazardous industries. It also aims to make India’s labor force more employable by enhancing their skill set.

 

One of the ministry’s main responsibilities is safeguarding the interests of poor and vulnerable workers. The ministry works towards ensuring a healthy working environment.  It is also entrusted with improving general sanitation conditions at work. The ministry is also responsible for formulating and implementing labor rules. It also arbitrates industrial disputes.

 

One of the ministry’s important functions is enhance worker’s skills through technical education. The ministry also maintains and publishes statistics.

 

Attached Bodies or Autonomous Bodies

Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET)

The Directorate General of Employment and Training is the apex organization for development and coordination of vocational training programs. This includes women’s vocational training and employment services. DGET policies are formulated by the central government and administered by the state governments. DGET also operates Employment Exchanges in various states. It also coordinates with state governments to deploy various technical programs in the Industrial Training Institutes.

 

Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC)

Established in 1945, the Office of the Labour Commissioner prevents and settles industrial disputes, enforces labor laws and promotes workers’ welfare in central government-run companies. The office’s main responsibility is ensuring compliance with various Labour laws. It also settles disputes in accordance with the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The office also fixes and revises the minimum wages for workers as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. In addition to these responsibilities, the CDC collects statistical. The organization has 20 Regional Labour Commissioners.

 

Labour Bureau

The Labour Bureau has been formed to collate, collect and publish statistics related to labor and employment. These include information on wages, earnings, productivity, absenteeism, labor turnover, industrial relations, working and living conditions and evaluation of working of various labor enactments among others.  The bureau is primarily responsible for calculating and maintaining data for important indices such as Consumer Price Index for industrial sector, agriculture sector and for the rural labors. It manages various other data such as retail price indices. The bureau also conducts research and surveys related to organized and unorganized sectors.

 

Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes  (DGFASLI)

The Office of DGFASLI was setup in 1945 as the Chief Inspector of Factories. DGFASLI is headquartered in Mumbai and has associated Central and Regional Labour institutes. The  DGFASLI’s main function is helping the ministry formulate national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks. It also advises factories on safety, health, efficiency and wellbeing in the workplace.

 

Office of Directorate General, Mines Safety, Dhanbad (ODGMSD)

The Office of Directorate General Mines Safety is a Regulatory Agency in matters pertaining to occupational safety, health and welfare of persons employed in mines such as coal, metalliferous and oil mines. The main function of the office is to enforce the mines act and other legislations, such as Indian Electricity Act. It sets standards for workers in mines and tracks the compliance of the same.

 

Central Government Industrial Tribunal and Labour Courts (CGIT)

The Central Government Industrial Tribunal and Labour Courts were established to enforce the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. There are 22 CGITs nationwide to adjudicate industrial disputes.

 

Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)

The ESIC has been set up to provide socioeconomic security to workers in the organized sector. It aims to cover the workers and their dependents during periods of medical illness, physical distress and temporary or permanent disability. The ESI Act applies to businesses with more than 10 employees.

 

Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO)

The EPFO is the world largest provident fund. The organization aims to extend the reach and the quality of publicly managed old-age income security programs. EPFO acts as a provident fund manager and is enforces and implements the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

 

V.V. Giri National Labour Institute (VVGNLI)

VVGNLI was founded in 1962 to coordinate and research unorganized labor. In 1972, the institute was registered as a society. In 1995, the institute was renamed in honor of former President V.V. Giri, a renowned trade union leader. The institutes aims improve labor relations as the central feature of their development agenda. The institute focuses on research, training and education and publication of various magazines. The Union Labour and Employment Minister is the President of VVGNIL’s Governing Council.

 

Central Board for Workers Education (CBWE)

Central Board for Workers Education was setup in 1958 to conduct training programs to empower workers. It aims to encourage leadership in workers so they can contribute to nation building. The CBWE also trains trade union members so they can conduct worker education.

more
Where Does the Money Go

A total of Rs. 1248.25 crore ($237.22 million USD) was allocated to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2011-12. From this, Labour has been allocated Rs. 704.18 crore ($133.82 million USD). This includes allocation for research and statistics; industrial relations; working conditions and safety; labor welfare schemes; social security for labor; labor education; rehabilitation of bonded labor; and improvement in working condition of child women labor. A total of Rs. 408.67 crore ($77.66 million USD) has been allocated to Employment and Training. Apart from this, Rs. 5.40 crore ($1.026 million USD) has been put towards the welfare of SC, ST and other backward classes and allocation of Rs. 130 crore ($24.71 million USD) has been made as a lump sum provision for projects in Northeast India and Sikkim.

more
Controversies:

Child Labor in Mines

The constitution of India ensures that no child below the age of 14 is allowed to work, especially in a job as hazardous as coal mining. However, use of child labor is a major problem in coalmines, where the coal mafia routinely traffics children from Nepal, Bangladesh and Assam. According to the NGO Impulse Network, based in the Northeastern state of Meghalaya, over 70,000 children work in mines in that state’s Jaintia Hills District alone. The issue is made more difficult to police by that fact that state is poorly governed, suffers from subpar infrastructure, and is remote so rescuing kids from the mine is difficult.

 

Meghalaya: Braveheart Fights against Child Labour in Coal Mines (by Arijit Sen – CNN IBN)

India's Child Coal Miners (by Daniel Etter, Christian Science Monitor)

Indian Child Miners Unaffected by Labour Laws (by Julien Bouissou, Guardian Weekly)

 

Central Board of Workers Education Director Accused of Sexual Harassment

The Labour Minister has suspended the Dr. Arvind Drave, director of Central Board of Workers Education (CBWE). The official statement released by the ministry says that the director has been suspended due to pending departmental enquiry. However insiders allege that the suspension is for complaints of sexual harassment lodged against him. This is also isn’t the first time Drave has faced similar allegations. During an earlier posting in Goa, he was accused sexually harassing his co-worker, a charge that might have been drawn much attention had the woman not been married to a member of the Legislative Assembly.

 

Union Labour Minister 'Suspends' Central Board of Workers' Education Director Drave (Times of India)

More Harassment Cases Surface at Central Board of Workers’ Education (Times of India)

more
Debate:

Quota for Promotions for SC/ST

As with many issues in India, the debate over reservations for Scheduled Caste/Schedules Tribes in government services (more commonly called the bureaucracy) comes down to vote bank politics between Uttar Pradesh’s two main parties: Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party and the Samajwadi Party, whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav just beat Mayawati to become UP’s Chief Minister. The Union cabinet has approved a proposal that will allow for reservation in promotions for Scheduled Casts/Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.  The law would still maintain a policy of heavily recruiting both OBC’s and SC/ST’s but it would only set aside top positions for Scheduled Castes, who are commonly referred to as Dalits and Scheduled Tribes, commonly called Tribals. Being a Constitutional Amendment Bill, it needs to be passed with minimum two-thirds majority through both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Since the both the BSP and the SP are so-called outside supporters of the Congress Party’s UPA II coalition, Congress needs to tread lightly and keep both sides happy.

 

For Quota

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party, whose vote bank is mostly comprised of Dalits, is championing the passage of the bill. Advocates for Dalits argue that untouchables are still far disproportionately poorer than the vast majority of Indians. For Mayawati, it’s also a vote bank issue, as she wants to deliver the prospect of these jobs to her constituents.

 

SC/ST Job Promotions Quota Bill Introduced in RS (Zee News Bureau)

 

Against Quota

The Samajwadi Party vehemently opposes this bill in India’s parliament. For the Samajwadi Party, whose vote bank is comprised of other backward classes or OBC’s, it’s also a question of looking out for the rights of their supporters. Though OBCs have gained some ground recently, India’s bureaucracy is still dominated by upper castes. Mulayam Singh Yadav is loath to support a measure that he feels will further marginalize his supporters. 

 

SC/ST Quota Bill Fails the Test (by Rajeev Dhavan, Mail Today)

Samajwadi Party Opposes Govt's Plan to Enable SC, ST Promotion Quota (by Nistula Hebbar, Economic Times)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Expedite Cases in Labor Courts

India’s industrial labor courts and tribunals are clogged, with a backlog of 13,642 cases. For workers waiting for redress of harassment complaints or suing for back wages, the system fails them. Many Indians are now calling for reforms to ensure fast processing of these cases. A recent case covered in the Hindu detailed the struggle of a worker who has been chasing wages owed since 1997. Even a recent State Department report cited India’s judicial backlog as a downside to investing there. “According to the World Bank, India continues to be the sixth slowest country in the world in the number of days it takes to resolve a dispute. Indian courts are understaffed and lack the technology to address the backlog of unsettled cases.”

 

Down and Out on India’s Shop Floor (by Aman Sethi, The Hindu)

2012 Investment Climate Statement – India (U.S. Department of State)

 

Adequately Enforce Child Labor Laws

Even though the government has banned child labor, it has been unable to completely abolish it. While much of the focus is on horrifying images of child coal miners in India’s Northeast, one doesn’t have to travel that far. In Delhi, restaurants commonly employ children to chop onions or knead roti dough or even deliver food to people’s homes.

 

In many middle class homes, child servants are essentially trafficked by ostensible placement companies.  The middle class families pay the placement agency, which in turn is supposed to pay the children. In reality, they rarely pay the children. The children are also unable to leave what often turns out to be exploitative and often sexually and physically abusive homes. They are frequently trafficked from poor states like Jharkhand. They don’t have the resources to return and if they did, it would be difficult for them to find their way home.

The practice is so common in Delhi that families who keep these children feel comfortable enough to travel to shopping malls with them. Every so often, the newspapers are filled with reports of horrifying abuse and the topic briefly makes headlines. It generally disappears just as quickly.

 

The failure of government to check such practices highlights the need for strengthening enforcement of Child Labor laws and also the need for a strong program to rehabilitate children and their families. The enforcement of the Child labor (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 1986 remains lackluster. The police, who are often more concerned with soliciting bribes rather than enforcing the law, do little to stop the rampant trafficking of children. When they do intervene, it’s often at the behest of foreign and domestic NGOs that rescue and rehabilitate these children. As in many sectors of India, the NGOs fill the government’s void. This is especially true in the rehabilitation of the rescued children.

 

 Despite some very high profile cases, India has one of the highest rates of child employment in the world. As per the 2001 census, there are 12 million child laborers in India. Experts, however, believe the real number is much higher.

 

Govt Slow in Enforcing Child Labor Law, Reveals RTI (by Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times)

India Targets the Traffickers who Sell Children into Slavery  (by Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer)

Child Slavery in India in Picture (by Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer)

more
Former Directors:

Sahib Singh Verma

Sahib Singh Verma was the Union Minister of Labour from 2002 to 2007. He was a senior Bhartiya Janta Party member and also served as senior vice-president in the Party. Verma began his political career as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker. He was elected to the Delhi Municipal Corporation in 1997 as a Janata Party candidate. In 1983, he was re-elected as a BJP Candidate. After winning the Assemble elections, he was appointed the Education and Development minister of Delhi. He was the Chief Minister of Delhi for the period 1996-1998. Verma died in a car accident in on June 30, 2007.

 

 

Satyanarayan Jatiya

Born in 1946 in Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya served as the Union Minister of Labour from November 1999 to September 2001.

 

Jatiya completed his bachelors, masters and doctorate from MP’s Vikram University.  He became a party secretary with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a forerunner of the BJP. In 1977, he was elected to the Madhya Pradesh state

 

He was first elected to the Madhya Pradesh state legislative assembly in 1977. In 1980, the same year the Bharatiya Janata Party was founded, he entered the Lok Sabha.

 

Representing the Ujjain constituency of Madhya Pradesh, he has been elected to six terms of Lok Sabha and apart from Labour Minister, he’s held the portfolios of Union Minister of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation and Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. 

 

Official Biography

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Founded: 1957
Annual Budget: Rs. 1,248.25 crore ($237.22 million USD)
Employees: 200

Ministry of Labour and Employment

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