This is in response to the in-depth article entitled "The struggle of workers for a guaranteed living wage: The struggle must be waged with the perspective of ending the exploitative capitalist system" carried in the October 1-15, 2018 issue of MEL.
The article draws in its opening salvo, to the fundamental question of philosophy of Indian political live with the statement "Workers of our country have been repeatedly raising their voice demanding that the Indian state guarantee a living wage for all workers." Furthermore that "Workers have been fighting for a wage that would ensure a dignified life for themselves and their families".
With these two sentences, the article defines where the struggle is centered and its resolution would indeed take the revolution far. The fact of the matter is that the Indian Constitution does not guarantee any of the above. Whereas the noble thoughts contained is relegated to the Directive Principles, the fact is that these are not viewed as inalienable rights by the authors and the practitioners of the Indian Constitution. Stated differently, under the capitalist order that prevails in the country, basic rights for workers are denied. Such basic rights that are denied include a minimum and living wage, as well as the right to work. For millions across the country employment remains a distant and unfulfilled dream, indeed as does a decent wage. Even in terms of fixing minimum wages, the numbers fixed by the Government is several factors lower than what is required for a basic human life.
The above is not surprising because the orientation of the Indian economy is directed at maximizing profits for capitalist houses. The article presents a detailed history of the minimum wages in the country since the departure of the British, which is educational. Nevertheless, there have been no enabling mechanisms nor has there been any impulse on the side of Governments both Central and State governments.
While capitalism is growing in the country and has been in the last several decades, the decimation of the countryside and the peasantry is a necessary condition to provide both labour and resources for capitalists. It is only the understanding of these basic features of the Indian economy that can arm the working class in its just struggle for a decent wage. Let the working class become conscious of its own role and its own strength through engagement with all the issues of the day. Let them develop confidence that by waging this and other just struggles it can prove to the people of India that it can create a new dispensation that can guarantee basic human rights for all.
A. Narayan, Bangalore