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

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.