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

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The Continuing Saga of Women’s Work during COVID-19

This paper employs a social reproduction framework to argue that the two main institutions of capitalism—the markets and the state—have failed to adequately provide for the working people of India during the pandemic while fostering gender inequities. While the demand for gender equity in the domestic sphere and the workplace is not new, the pandemic further underscores its urgency.

ASHAs’ Health Services

The intrinsic commitment of the accredited social health activists towards the well-being of the community is unduly exploited by the state in the name of “volunteerism.” It is high time a wholesome definition of work is adopted to understand the inconspicuous contributions made by these front-line healthcare workers, who form a key link in the public health system in India.

Protection of Workers’ Wages in India: An Analysis of the Labour Code on Wages, 2019

The recent Labour Code on Wages Act enacted in August 2019 consolidates and codifies previous wage regulations under one act. However, in a country with a significant casual and informal workforce, how effective would the Wage Code be?

Inequality in India–II

To determine the inequality in wage earnings, attention is paid to the distinction between formal and informal types of employment, and the returns to education. Alternative definitions to understand the formal–informal dichotomy are employed to show that employers are increasingly using “informal” workers in formal enterprises. In Part I of this paper (EPW, 29 July 2017), changes in household welfare as measured by per capita household expenditure were analysed.

Literary Cultures in North East India

The history of a community’s literature has usually been inseparable from the history of the language in which the literature is produced. In North East India, the problem arises in the case of those communities which have a rich and vibrant oral tradition, but no written texts. When writers from these communities adopt a literary language which is alien to their culture, they have to understand the historical conditions that enable them to use that language. The literary cultures in this region have witnessed a gradual shrinking of frontiers from the trans-regional vernaculars to a confined and limited regional space, where atomisation of cultures is more visible than development of cosmopolitan vernaculars.

Why Wage Differences Exist across Sectors?

Inter-industry differences in wages are substantial, and over time, they do not seem to be disappearing. Productivity is a determinant of wage differences across industries, though the association between them is not very strong at the aggregate level or for intermediate goods, capital goods, and consumer non-durables. Trade liberalisation enhances productivity and wages at the aggregate level, and also in the case of basic goods and capital goods. However, in an attempt to raise productivity, firms may extract more work from those who are already engaged, and tend to pay them less than their due share in certain industry groups. Contractualisation and feminisation show similar effects for all the industry groups except the intermediate goods industries, and has a worsening effect on wages and also productivity.

Well Worth the Effort

More than 1,00,000 wells were sanctioned for construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Jharkhand during the last few years. This study evaluates the outcome of this well-construction drive through a survey of nearly 1,000 wells in 24 randomly selected gram panchayats. A majority of sanctioned wells (60% with parapet and 70% without) were completed at the time of the survey. Nearly 95% of completed wells are being utilised for irrigation, leading to a near tripling of agricultural income of those in the command area. The real rate of return from these wells in Jharkhand is estimated to be close to 6%, a respectable figure for any economic investment. However, well construction involves some out-of-pocket expenses and this investment is risky: nearly 12% of the wells were abandoned midway.

Agrarian Question in India

Using the latest National Sample Survey Office data on land distribution and use, questions of agrarian change in India are revisited. With reducing landholding size in general, the increasing unviability of such small plots, and increasing numbers of "effectively" landless households, the larger questions of employment and sectoral shifts are flagged. There is still no clear transition away from agriculture.

Performance-Based Incentives of the ASHA Scheme

A study of Accredited Social Health Activists in Shahapur taluka of Maharashtra, a drought-prone adivasi-inhabited area, shows that the remuneration of ASHAs is a growing concern both for them, as well as their families. Recognising their contribution to public health services, the government should provide fixed payment to them, beyond which task-based incentives should continue to be given, though at a revised rate. The current system of remuneration is making it difficult for ASHAs to meet their family's needs and the community's expectations. Further, payment and reimbursement procedures need to be simplified.

Labour Institutions in a Globalised Era

The Politics of Labour in a Global Age: Continuity and Change in Late-Industrialising and PostSocialist Economies edited by Christopher Candland and Rudra Sil; Oxford University Press, New York, 2001; pp xv + 353, price not indicated.

Bombay Dock Labour Board 1948-1994

In pre-independent India, dock workers enjoyed little security of employment. Not only was work intermittent, there were no safety provisions while wages varied from contractor to contractor. With the setting up of the Bombay Dock Labour Board, a modicum of social security was provided for against sudden economic crises and during times of recession. Since the 1980s, however, changes that included the emergence of JNPT, subcontracting of workers, new modes of work, implementation of retirement schemes, among other measures have resulted in financial difficulties for the board. This paper deliberates on the conditions of labour that existed in ports of the pre-independence period and then seeks to analyse the impact of globalisation in context of the dock workers.

Impact of Trade Unions, Employment and Technology on Wages

This study, covering a two-decade period, shows that on the whole trade unions have experienced an erosion in their strength. Also, with the introduction of new technology in the cotton textile industry, the tussle is now between workers and machines, with mills acquiring sophistication and cutting production costs through reduced employment.

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