THE WORKERS’ DAY

As the world celebrates Labour Day today it needs to be realized that the nation cannot prosper, unless its workers are working and living in a congenial worker-friendly environment. While the day used to be normally marked by rallies and processions across the globe, this year it might pass silently in view of the substantial lockdown across the world’s largest democracy India. However, undoubtedly India stands more than ever dedicated for the welfare of its workforce constituting the backbone of the nation. For India the day holds special significance in view of the fact that unorganized workers here have increased manyfold post-independence, with the majority of them engaged in agriculture and allied sectors and constituting more than 90 per cent of the work force. Unfortunately, during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic last year, this work force suffered the most with the labourers losing their wages, besides getting held up in various states across the nation. Even during the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, a similar situation seems to be evolving in the worst-affected regions like Maharashtra, Karnataka, etc. It is pertinent to mention here that despite herculean efforts by the government to ensure that none among them remains hungry in this hour of crisis, some might remain unattended due to implementation flaws on ground. It is really an irony of this nation that while the work-force in the organized sector gets mostly exploited at the hands of the capitalists running the sector, the condition of the work-force in the unorganized sector is all the more worse with very little data of such workers available with the concerned government agencies, while according to the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS), this sector of the work force contributes almost 50 per cent to the national GDP. This clearly indicates the utmost significance of this sector that has been often the victim of neglect. Though there are NGOs and other multifaceted groups from the legal as well as labour sector which are conducting awareness programmes and seminars to make the workers of both the sectors aware about their rights and how to safeguard them, the results on ground are not that encouraging. These groups need to work in complete coordination and harmony for their welfare by focusing on this underprivileged class in every nook and corner of the country. Workshops and seminars undoubtedly provide a platform for academicians, researchers and social activists to discuss problems and issues of this sector, but these would be beneficial for the experts and volunteers working in the field only when translated on ground by emphasizing more on launching massive awareness campaigns to sensitize the workers in this sector about the schemes launched by State and Central Governments for uplifting them, besides educating them about their rights. It would be no exaggeration to say that it is the prime duty of state to look into the plight of this poverty-stricken and downtrodden class of India. Knowing fully that labour force is the backbone of nation’s economy, it becomes our duty to safeguard their rights and ensure all possible benefits to them for their socio-economic transformation. As such, post the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is utmost need to proceed beyond the drawing room seminars to the inaccessible pockets across the nation and organize interface workshops directly with the workers of this sector and ensure that there is a watchdog to guard their interests 24X7 in letter and spirit, because this would not only uplift the workers but transform the economic scenario of the nation that has presently nosedived due to an unprecedented crisis. However, for this everyone has an individual role to play, apart from a significant role to be played by the capitalists whose welfare is directly proportional to the welfare of the labour force and this will ultimately be in the larger interest of the nation. After all, sincere and well-coordinated efforts will definitely help in realizing the goal of happy and prosperous workers which is a sine qua non of a prosperous nation.