Skip to main content

"Model" Gujarat agricultural wages one of the lowest in India, gender gap is market driven: Union ministry report

Source: Labour Bureau, Shimla
By Rajiv Shah
A top Government of India document has said that, in “model” Gujarat, the real wages of both male and female agricultural workers in 2016-17 were worse than most major Indian states. At Rs 223 per day, Gujarat’s male agricultural wages were lower than all but three of 15 major Indian states; and for females agricultural workers, Rs 202, they were worse than all but five of 15 major Indian states.
The document, “Report of the Committee on Alignment of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Wages with Minimum Agricultural Wages: July 2017”, released by the Ministry of Rural Development, quotes the Labour Bureau, Shimla, based on the data obtained during July-May 2016-17.
While Gujarat's agricultural wages for both male and female workers is are lower than those in Bihar, Assam and West Bengal, the highest per day agricultural wages during the year were being paid in Kerala, Rs 661 for males and Rs 494 for females. The all-India average of the real agricultural wages for males was Rs 270, and Rs 210 for females, much higher than those prevailing in Gujarat.
Interesting though it may seem, the main reason for the document to provide separate agricultural wages for and females in major 15 states is to justify its argument in favour of NREGA wage rates, which it insisted cannot be on par those stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Pointing towards the gap between male and female agricultural wages despite the existence of the Minimum Wages Act, the document says, “The minimum agricultural wages, though notified by the state governments, are hard to enforce especially in the case of women workers.”
Against this backdrop, the document insists, “On the other hand, the wages under NREGA, paid by the states, are enforced and enforceable, and no discrimination exists between male and female worker wage rate.” But on the other, as opposed this, “the market reality of agricultural wages” is such that “wage rates for female workers at all-India level were 78% of the male workers.”
Source: Labour Bureau, Shimla
“In some states, like Tamil Nadu, women workers earn just over half of male workers’ wages. In Karnataka and Kerala, women workers received only 65.22% and 73.56% of the male workers’ wages”, the document says in order to “support” its argument why the Minimum Wages Act is not enforceable for NREGA workers.
Strongly disapproving such an approach, which in fact is one of many (click HERE to read), well-known advocacy group, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, the apex body of tens of organizations fighting for implementing minimum wages for NREGA workers, argues, has characterized it as “the most incomprehensible and unconstitutional justification.”
“The committee seems to imply that in so far as both women and men workers receive the same wages under NREGA, this justifies a wage rate lower than the agricultural minimum wage”, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha says.
The Morcha argues, “Economically unviable wages are likely to lead to a significant reduction in the viability of NREGA as a law and programme.”
It adds, “Given the demand-driven nature of the employment guarantee programme, this may be the actual intention of the government by fixing abysmally low wages as it will allow it to keep the expenditure on NREGA more or less constant in money terms but reduce it in real terms.”
“However”, the Morcha continues in a statement, “It is quite likely that this will result in illegal contractualisation of NREGA works, and the large-scale fudging of records in order to hire workers at market wages, and cope and “adjust” their wages to the sub minimum wages on paper.”

Comments

TRENDING

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Cops' 'inability' to deliver justice? Model Gujarat ranks 12th among 18 major states

By Rajiv Shah
A Tata Trusts study, released in Delhi on Thursday, has ranked “model” Gujarat 12th out of 18 major states it has analysed across India to “assess” the police's capacity to deliver justice. Several of the advanced states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as some of the so-called Bimaru states such as Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found to have ranked better than Gujarat.

People's pressure? GPCB mining cancellation 'notice' to top cement unit in Gujarat

By Sagar Rabari*
Environmental Clearance (EC) was given to Ultratech Cement Co Ltd for limestone mining in villages Talli and Bambhor of Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on January 5, 2017. EC was issued ignoring, overriding and undermining opposition from local farmers to mining activity in the area. The mining in these two villages covers an area of 193.3268 hectares (ha), while the entire project is spread over an area of 1,715.1311 ha.

Bullet train acquisition: Land holding worth Rs 1.5 crore, Gujarat govt 'offer' Rs 8 lakh

By RK Misra*
Foundation stones laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi litter India’s cities, towns and villages, but there are few projects which he has pursued with such perseverance and tenacity as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train one. However, the overwhelming state power notwithstanding, the farmers, whose lands are being acquired for the Modi government’s dream project, have no plans to give up the fight.

NHRC notice to Gujarat chief secretary following silicosis deaths in Rajkot

By Our Representative
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Gujarat chief secretary and the district magistrate, Rajkot, to respond to a complaint filed by health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, regarding the alleged death of Raju Prakash Parihar and two others reportedly because of silicosis, a fatal occupation disease, in Rajkot, one of Gujarat’s top cities.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).