02 May, 2020
7 Min Read
B R Ambedkar laid the foundation for workers’ rights, social security in India
Part of: GS-II- Governance – Rights (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
International Labour Day is celebrated on May 1 to honour workers. Labour has an undeniable role in shaping the nation’s fortune. Since the times immemorial, the working class has struggled and sacrificed for greater causes — first for Independence and then building the nation brick by brick. The ongoing fight against COVID-19 has brought temporary hardship for everyone, including workers.
Many leaders have been a beacon for workers and B R Ambedkar was one among them.
On September 17, 1937, during the Poona session of the Bombay Assembly, he introduced a bill to abolish the Khoti system of land tenure in Konkan. He opposed the introduction of Industrial Disputes Bill, 1937 because it removed the workers’ right to strike. His profound knowledge of labour matters was universally acknowledged and demonstrated during his term as Labour member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council from 1942 to 1946.
The Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Bill, introduced by Ambedkar on November 8, 1943, compelled the employers to acknowledge trade unions.
Ambedkar did not accept the Marxist position that the abolition of private property would bring an end to poverty and suffering “Communists say that they have not destroyed other valuable end in the process of achieving Equality. How many people have they killed for achieving their end? Has human life no value? Could they not have taken property without taking the life of the owner?”
On February 8, 1944, in the legislative assembly during the debate on the Lifting of Ban on Employment of Women on Underground Work in Coal Mines, Ambedkar said: “It is for the first time that I think in any industry the principle has been established of equal pay for equal work irrespective of the sex.” It was a historic moment. Through the Mines Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 1943, he empowered women workers with maternity benefits.
Addressing the Indian Labour Conference held in New Delhi on November 26, 1945, Ambedkar emphasised the urgent need to bring progressive labour welfare legislation
Inspired by Ambedkar, the current government has taken steps to improve the quality of life of workers. For example, the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojna was launched in February 2019 to ensure protection of unorganised workers in their old age.
Through technological interventions like Shram Suvidha Portal, transparency and accountability are ensured in the enforcement of labour law.
The government is working to simplify, amalgamate and rationalise the provisions of the existing central labour laws into four labour codes — Labour Code on Wages, on Industrial Relations, on Social Security & Welfare and on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions.
In the extraordinary circumstances brought on by the COVID pandemic, the labour fraternity deserves a special salute. During his Mann ki Baat broadcast on March 29, the PM apologised for the inconvenience. As we recall the innumerable contribution of the countless labourers in nation-building, with an ever-increasing spirit of Shramev Jayate, we must remember the contributions of Ambedkar.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM) was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the Ministry of Labour and Employment in February 2019. It was launched at Vastral in Gujarat. PM-SYM is the world’s largest pension scheme. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan is a central government scheme that is introduced for old age protection and social security of Unorganised Workers (UW).
Benefits of PM-SYM Scheme
The Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme which aims to provide security and protection to the unorganised workers as well as to the old age group.
The scheme is meant to benefit workers in the unorganised sector and this includes street vendors, rickshaw pullers, agricultural workers, mid-day meal workers, construction workers or workers in similar other occupations. There are an estimated 42 crore such unorganised workers in the country. Under this scheme, the beneficiary after attaining the age of 60 years would receive an assured monthly pension of Rs 3000/- per month and 50% of the pension shall be entitled to the spouse of the beneficiary as family pension after the death of the beneficiary.
Some of the benefits provided to the beneficiary under this scheme are mentioned below:
Who is eligible under the PM-SYM Scheme?
To be eligible under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan Dhan, the candidate should fulfil the below-mentioned criteria:
Any individual who is engaged in the Organised Sector (membership of EPF/NPS/ESIC) and is an income tax payer will not be eligible to apply for the PM-SYM Scheme.
How to enrol for PM-SYM?
The eligible member will be required to have a savings bank account, mobile phone, and Aadhaar number before enrolling under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan Dhan.
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