Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar and May Day

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar and May Day Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar had played an important in the labour movement in India being a part of labourers of India. His roll in labour welfare makes an important dent in world labour movements. Historical background : May- 1 each year in celebrated world over as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.” First May- Day was celebrated on May 1, 1890, after it was proclaimed by the first international congress of Socialist Parties held in Europe on July 14, 1889, in Paris, France to dedicate that day to Labour rights. Earlier to it the American Federation Organised Trades and Labour Unions to demand an eight-hour workday in 1884 against prevailing 15-16 hours working time. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket (in Chicago) Riot of 1886. The police fired on peaceful demonstrators on 3rd May, when one died and several got injured. When many workers and leaders departed peacefully, police intervened, ordered quick dispersal of participants. Someone (never identified properly) from the crowd hurled a grenade. The police contingent present responded with random gunfire. Seven police officers were killed and 60 others wounded before the violence ended. The civilian casualties were estimated at four to eight dead and 30 to 40 injured. However, the official sanction was accorded for the eight-hour workday. Labour Day in India:The first May Day in India was organised in Madras (now Chennai) by the political party “Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan” on May 1, 1923. The party was formed by Comrade M. Singaravelu Chettiar(1860-1946),who was first left thinker of India. On this day for the first time “Red Flag” was used in India. The day is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties. May Day is a public holiday in several countries including India. In India it is celebrated as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas (International Labour Day). Besides communist with labour leaders many have sincerely worked for labour empowerment in India. Among these good-hearted leaders Dr Baba Saheb B. R. Ambedkar shines as polar star. Dr Baba Saheb B. R. Ambedkar actually took over (telegraphically) a member of Indian Viceroy’s Council on 20th July,1942 and not on 2 July 1942, the day of his appointment. This delay was due to his engagements with dissolving IPL and launching his new political party the “ Scheduled Castes Federation” at Nagpur. He addressed on 18-20 July over 90,000 participants having 20,000 women delegates from all over India. He took over as Labour Member (Minister) with responsibilities of Labour, CPWD and Constructions departments and continued as such till Mid- June 1946. Baba Saheb presided 4,5,6,7th Labour conferences in Delhi between August 1942 to 27-28 November 1945 and succeeded in bringing sea change in labour welfare means. It is rightly said if there was any person who secured the majority rights to Laborers in India, the person was none other than “Father of Modern India” & Revolutionary Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Without Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, today the future of India Labourers would have been in pitch darkness. He is the only leader in India who was multi-dimensional qualities as a great visionary academician economist, politician, law councillor, historian, anthropologist besides possessed vision of a caste visor . After all he was born in the land of the most congenital casteist nation we know as “India”. The staunch upper castes gave him worst low caste troubles and later mostly avoided to give credit to Dr. Ambedkar's contribution in building this great nation which today is one of the developing economies of the world. Thanks to his robust economic policies which have saved India even in the times of great Economic Depressions. Be it the founding guidelines of the RBI or the Principles of Free Trade, Dr. Ambedkar has given all the best to our Nation in all spheres. Even the Reserve Bank (RBI) of India was conceptualised in accordance with the guidelines presented by Dr Ambedkar to the Hilton Young Commission (also known as Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance) based on his book, “ The Problem of the Rupee – Its Origin and Its Solution”. This book earned Dr Baba Saheb world’s highest academic economic degree DSc. His mind on labour laws was summed up by his biographer D. Keer (page,1971-374) For Ambedkar, “three things were necessary to mitigate or prevent industrial disorder, namely, a machinery for conciliation; secondly, an amendment of the Trade Disputes Act; and thirdly, minimum wage legislation”. Dr Baba Saheb worked on these lines and resolved during his times many issues confronting labour and for unresolved matters he put these in motion on well thought labour welfare process. In free India as Father of Indian Constitution Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar laid a strong of labour welfare foundation of equal pay for equal work through the preamble and article 14,16,39. Further Article 21 promises protection of life and personal liberty, Article 23 prohibits forced labour whereas Article 24 prohibits employment of children below the age of fourteen years. Article 39(a) provides that the State shall secure to its citizens equal right to an adequate means of livelihood. Here is some piece of valuable information to share about Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar did for Labourers as a Labour leader and as the Labour Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council between 1942 and 1946. Many rules took shape later and with enactment of Indian Constitution on the seeds Dr Ambedkar planted. Brilliant contributions by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for labour and mass welfare. • Reduction in Factory Working Hours (8 hours duty) : Before enactment of Code on Social Security, 2020, the working hours in India per day was about 8 hours. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was the Saviour of Labours in India. He worked to bring 8 hours duty in India and to get changed the working time from 14-16 hours to 8 hours work . Earlier to Dr. Ambedkar, Narayan Meghaji Lokhande (1848–1897) a Dalit and long associate of Mahatma Phuley had struggled hard to get Sunday holiday in 1889. He was the father of trade union movement in India. This had lightened working for workers in India. Dr. Ambedkar highlighted many labours welfare means in the5th,6th, 7th sessions of Indian Labour Conference in New Delhi. Many approvals were also approved and forwarded to government for framing appropriate laws. • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also framed many laws for Women Labours in India, this included moving in the Parliament “ Hindu Code Bill” . • Mines Maternity Benefit Act, • Women Labour welfare fund, • Women and Child, Labour Protection Act, • Maternity Benefit for women Labour, • Restoration of Ban on Employment of Women on Underground Work in Coal Mines, • Indian Factory Act. • National Employment Agency (Employment Exchange): Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was instrumental in bringing the establishment of employment exchanges. He created employment exchanges in India as the Labour member in Provincial government in British India after the end of 2nd world, so also the tripartite mechanism of settling Labour issues through trade unions, Labours and the government representatives and introducing skill development initiative in the government sector. Due to his relentless efforts ‘National Employment Agency was created. • Employees State Insurance (ESI): ESI helps the workers with medical care, medical leave, physically disabled during working injuries as compensation Insurance for providing various facilities. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar enacted and brought it for the benefit of workers. Actually, India only brought ‘Insurance Act’ as the first nation among the East Asian countries. Credit goes to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. • The original source of reference for all the 13 Finance Commission reports, in a way, are based on Dr. Ambedkar’s Ph. D thesis, "The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India", written in 1923. • India’s Water Policy and Electric Power Planning: The policy formulation and planning for the development of irrigation and electric power was the major concern. It was the Labour Department under the guidance of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who decided to establish "Central Technical Power Board" (CTPB) for power system development, hydro power station sites, hydro-electric surveys, analysing problems of electricity generation and thermal power station investigation. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar emphasized on the significance and need for the “Grid System”, which is still working successfully even today. If today power engineers are going abroad for training, the credit goes to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar again, who as a leader of Labour Department formulated policy to train the best engineers-overseas. It is a matter of shame that nobody credits Dr. baba Saheb Ambedkar for the role he played in India’s water policy and electric power planning. [For more about ‘India’s Water Policy and Electric Power Planning’, Refer: Dr. Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat]. • Dearness Allowance (DA) to Workers. • Leave Benefit to Piece Workers. • Revision of Scale of Pay for Employees. • Coal and Mica Mines Provident Fund: At the time, Coal Industry played a vital role in our country’s economy. Due to this, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar enacted the Coal Mines Safety (Stowing) Amendment Bill for the benefit of the workers on January 31st, 1944. On 8th April 1946, he brought the Mica Mines Labour Welfare Fund which helped the workers with housing, water supply, education, entertainment, co- operative arrangements. • Labour Welfare Funds: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar set up an Advisory Committee to advise on matters arising out of the Labour Welfare under B P Agarkar. Later he promulgated it on January, 1944. • Post War Economic Planning: When 2nd World war ended, there were many challenges for India, such as re-establishing the economy; including improvement in agriculture, development of industries, rehabilitation and re- deployment of defence services etc. For this, the Reconstruction Committee of Council (RCC) was established. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was a member of RCC and was assigned the role of the President of "Policy Committee for Irrigation and Power" of great significance but less well known among Dr. Ambedkar's contribution to the nation was his direct participation in the formulation of objective and strategy of post-war economic plan & planned development of water and electric power resources in the country. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was directly involved in framing of the objective and strategy of economic planning and water and electric power policy though he made a substantial contribution to the economic planning and water and electric power resource development in this position, surprisingly, this aspect of his contribution has hardly been studied. [For more about ‘Post War Economic Planning’ Refer: Dr. Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat]. • Indian Statistical Law: In 1942, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar passed the Indian Statistical Act. Later D K Paisendry (Former Deputy Principal, Information Officer, Government of India) said in his book, without Dr. Ambedkar’s Indian Statistical Act he could not formulated the Labour conditions, their wage rates, other Income, Inflation, debt, housing, employment, deposits and other funds, labour disputes. • The Indian Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill: Indian Labour Act was enacted in 1926 . This only helped to register the trade unions. But it was not approved by the government. On 8 November, 1943 he brought the Indian Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill for Compulsory recognition of trade unions. • Creator of Damodar valley project, Hirakund project, The Sone River valley project: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar who started and Plan outlined, on the lines of the Tennessee Valley project, the Damodar Valley project. Not only Damodar Valley Project but also Hirakud project, The Sone River valley project were outlined by him. In 1945, under the chairmanship of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, then Member of Labour, it was decided to invest in the potential benefits of controlling the Mahanadi for multi- purpose use. But almost were hiding and wrongly been attributed entirely to Nehru’s vision for industrialization through multipurpose river valley projects. It was Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar who in fact, as the then Member for Labour in the Viceroy’s Council, played the most central role in introducing large dam technologies into India . If you ask any school going child, where Damodar Valley, Hira Kund and the Sone River Valley projects are, and who inaugurated these projects, they will tell you the names of Nehru-Gandhi family, although they have nothing to do with these projects. (Check out the wiki page giving details that Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, Dr. B.C. Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal and Sri Krishna Sinha, Chief Minister of Bihar, took personal interest to ensure early success of the project. Students are taught in schools about these projects but miss a word about Dr. Ambedkar’s prominent role and contribution towards all these projects. Since 1930 emphasis has been increasingly placed on engineering practices, on the hydrological unity of a river basin on treating the basin as the unit of development of its water resources. Credit for multipurpose project (irrigation and generating electric power together) goes to Irrigation and Power Department, under the leadership of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar during1942-46. Keeping in view the enhanced magnitude of such projects, it was keenly felt that the technical expert bodies available then, at the centre weren’t adequate. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar approved the Central Water way and Irrigation Commission (CWINC) in March 1944, and subsequently by the Viceroy on April 4, 1945. Thus Dr. Babasaheb helped build a strong technical organization for the development of India. If our houses are illuminated and if our fields are green, it’s because of Dr. Ambedkar’s stellar role in the planning of these projects, on which rests a major part of India’s economy today. If there is such a concept as water-management and development in India, then the credit goes to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for ably using the natural resources to serve India. If it was not for Dr. Ambedkar’s vision, one can imagine the situation of electric supply, irrigation and development of India. [For more, Refer: Dr. Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat]. • Health Insurance Scheme. • Provident Fund Act. • Factory Amendment Act. • Labor Disputes Act. • Minimum wage. • The Legal Strike. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar believe that caste is not merely the division of Labour but division of labourers based upon the graded inequality. Further in his “Annihilation of Caste’, Volume - I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches”.In no other country is the division of Labour accompanied by this gradation of labourers. There is also a third point of criticism against this view of the Caste System. This division of labour is not spontaneous; it is not based on natural aptitudes. Social and individual efficiency requires us to develop the capacity of an individual to the point of competency to choose and to make his own career. This principle is violated in the Caste System in so far as it involves an attempt to appoint tasks to individuals in advance, selected not on the basis of trained original capacities, but on that of the social status of the parents. Looked at from another point of view this stratification of occupations which is the result of the caste System is positively pernicious. Industry is never static. It undergoes rapid and abrupt changes. With such changes an individual must be free to change his occupation. Without such freedom to adjust himself to changing circumstances it would be impossible for him to have gains in his livelihood earning. Now the Caste System will not allow Hindus to take to occupations where they are wanted, if they do not belong to them by heredity. If a Hindu is seen to starve rather than take to new occupations not assigned to his Caste, the reason is to be found in the Caste System. By not permitting readjustment of occupations, caste becomes a direct cause of much of the unemployment we see in the country. As a form of division of labour, the Caste system suffers from another serious defect. The division of labour brought about by the Caste System is not a division based on choice. Individual sentiment, individual preference has no place in it. It is based on the dogma of predestination.” Dated 30-4-2022 Er. H. R. Phonsa Words:2679. References::- * Volume 10 – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar as member of the Governor-General’s Executive Council (1942-46). * A Tamil article by Tamilmaraiyan. * Dr. Ambedkar’s Role in Economic Planning Water and Power Policy by Sukhadeo Thorat. * Volume 1 - Annihilation of Caste by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Compiled & Edited By CBA (Channel Babasaheb Ambedkar) Community Media

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