ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and the ILO in Historical Perspective

In the 91 years since the International Labour Organisation came into existence, there have been many intersections and parallels between the development of labour and social policies in this body and in India. Nations and international organisations influence each other in subtle and not so subtle ways. This group of articles explores some aspects of these interactions from an Indian point of view. The hope is that they will stimulate further work on the history of economic and social conditions and policies in India and beyond.

India, the ILO and the Quest for Social Justice since 1919

Examining the interactions between the International Labour Organisation and India, one of its founding members since 1919, this paper observes that the strength of the relationship has varied over time, but has often benefited both sides. Looking ahead, it points out that the ILO and India face common challenges arising from the increasing inequalities caused by globalisation, the difficulty of implementing a universal social and labour policy in an economy where the bulk of workers are outside the formal sector, and the need to better integrate social and economic policy across different arms of government. These problems call for improved patterns of organisation, influence and dialogue at the national level, but they also define an international agenda for the ILO.

Indian Officials in the ILO, 1919-c 1947

This study sheds light on the services of a distinguished line of Indian officials in the International Labour Organisation, particularly before Independence. Their brilliant academic backgrounds, their roles in the organisation and their contributions are analysed. The issues of India's disproportionately large financial contributions to the ilo and meagre Indian representation in the secretariat are also briefly examined. In all, the ilo and India were well served by these outstanding Indian officials though they operated in difficult times with the shadow of a colonial government always looming over them.

Employment in Development: Connection between Indian Strategy and ILO Policy Agenda

Employment is a "soft" subject compared to labour standards - the hard core of the International Labour Organisation's mandate and agenda. The contribution that the agency can make to a member country regarding employment generally takes the form of assistance in developing approaches, strategies and programmes, rather than direct action. As such, it has significantly influenced Indian policy on the subject. On the other hand, the ILO has gained substantially from India's expertise and experience in formulating its own approaches and applying them to employment promotion policies and programmes in other developing countries. The collaboration, mostly in the realm of ideas, has thus been fruitful for both and perhaps for the rest of the world as well.

Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: India and the ILO

The manner in which rights at work have been identified and articulated within both the International Labour Organisation and India since the founding of the agency in 1919, bears a close similarity. Despite what its mandate would suggest, the ilo (like India) has chosen to treat only certain selected rights as "fundamental" at the expense of issues such as those relating to conditions of work, wages and social security, which are equally constitutive of what it terms "decent work". This paper argues that recent developments within the ilo and India indicate the need for adopting a broader and more inclusive approach to ensuring decent work.
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