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Organizing the unorganized: India’s labor reforms


One of the first laws of independent India, legislated in 1948, even before our constitution came into force was the Minimum Wage Act. However, Indian labourers are still one of the most underpaid lot.

The labour ministry has sent its recommendations to the Cabinet regarding this and the matter is expected to be tabled in the Parliament this monsoon session. Ironically, the law, if enacted can go against the spirit of Centre's flagship scheme 'Make In India' as the labour laws are already called 'restrictive' by white collars. So, imposing more conditions on them could make things more complicated for the companies. Further, the success of 'Make In India' lies in the availability of cheap labour in the country.


At a time, when job creation has plummeted to minimal levels (just 2.31 lakh in 2016), unorganised sector, the largest employment generator, is the only refuge against unemployment. This can also prove a bummer for medium and small enterprises.

On the flip side, it cannot be denied that given the market price of commodities, our unorganised sector workers find it really difficult to lead a decent life. Centre could think on the lines of providing subsidised commodities to unorganised sector workers through the proposed Unorganized Worker Identification Cards. The exploitation and work hours should also be well considered.

So, developing a framework which could be easily digested by both the parties will be a big challenge for the policy makers. The National Democratic Alliance government, which has a clear majority has a shot to solve the deadlock, all it demands is just will to do so.


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Organizing the unorganized: India’s labor reforms

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