The betterment of industry lies not in exploiting the workers but by honouring them: Rahul Gandhi
Speech of Congress Vice-President, Shri Rahul Gandhi at the 31st Convention of INTUC on 5th December, 2015
These days the news is of a day. The days are of Twitter and Facebook. The days are of selfie. People are restless. We are living in a time when words are used to express peoples’ vision, but what sentiments are behind these words, there is no discussion on that. After some days new words come up, new slogans come and the attention of the country shifts from one word, one slogan to another word or slogan. If a person asks himself what happened? Then a kind of silence prevails. The words seem to sound hollow. It started with ‘Achhe Din’, then ‘Swach Bharat’ was started then after some days there was talk of ‘Smart Cities’, then ‘Make in India’ then ‘Digital India’ and now it is ‘Accessible India’. God knows what new slogan will emerge now. Words are very funny what they show, equally they hide them. We usually hear about Growth. We come to hear of progress.
For progress, development is used. We usually take the meaning of words as reality. But what is hidden behind ‘Growth’ and ‘Progress’ this is a true question. ‘Growth’ for whom? ‘Progress of whom? Whose progress. Whose development and for whom? Who is getting the benefit of ‘Growth’? Is it only for 20 to 25 people who are becoming millionaires? Do some hand-picked people fly in their own planes and the worker cannot even buy a ticket in a bus? Does the common man gets self-respect? Is there a school near the house? Or it is a dirty lane with heap of waste? Will our workers receive treatment for their injuries or will he be left to die without medicines? All these questions, ‘GDP’, ‘Growth’, ‘Development’ and ‘Progress’, are hidden behind these words. The Prime Minister has given us many new words. I do not want to talk or discuss about those words. But, I would like to talk about ‘Make in India’ because you all do it every day. Whatever that is made in this country that has been made by you. You do not get the benefit out of it, but everything that is produced, every service which we get, you the workers of this country give us.
Thus, before starting this convention, I want to thank you from the depth of my heart. I want to thank you, not only on behalf of our Congress Party, but on behalf of the whole country. I want to tell you that the country respects your blood, sweat and tears. I want to thank INTUC and all of you present in this hall here for giving protection to labourers and workers. I would also like to add that leaders and members of the INTUC will get proper place in the organization of the Congress Party and will get an important place during ticket distribution. In this, I will give my full support. In the coming time I want to see your members in the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and Rajya Sabha. I also want to see your faces in the Municipalities and Panchayats. The vision of the Prime Minister is to make India as the Global Manufacturing centre under the Vision India project.
He thinks that India can compete with China and I too agree with him. But it is a matter of regret that our opinion ends here, because our opinion on ‘Make in India’ is all-together different. The Prime Minister thinks that the workers of India is dishonest, is shinker and they can only work under pressure. He feels that labour laws have to be loosened and the workers have to be disciplined so that they are compelled to work. He wants that the workers are brought to their knees, and if you see laws that are being enacted in Rajasthan, Gujarat and now in Haryana, it will be quite clear that Narendra Modiji has started a big attack on workers. He feels that ‘hire and fire’ and by weaking the unions the workers will start working. The government should remain unbiased but the government has left the workers alone. Modiji, remember one thing. Neither the workers of India are weak, nor they are undisciplined. India is lagging in manufacturing, because the workers of India are scared. They live in fear and die in fear. You talk of productivity but as long as the workers live in fear about their future, they cannot work properly.
If you show them the future of their children, then see where they world take India to. He does not see the coming tomorrow. If you remove this fear, we will leave China far behind. I do not believe that the duty of the government to get the work done from the workers. Partnership is only possible between workers and industry, when the government act as judge and not as the advocate of the industrialists, but there is a Starting Point to every partnership. According to my calculations what should be that Starting Point, I want to tell you. I have told you earlier that you give your blood, sweat and tears to the country. I prefer such an India where you give as much sweat as you want. But I do not prefer such an India where you give your blood and where you have to give your tears. We do not want to develop this country by your blood and your tears.
I do not want your blood and tears. I want such an India, where we do not snatch the future of your children. Congress Party had created a safety net for you all. But Modiji wants to shatter that safety net. Modiji,
• By reducing job security of workers you cannot expect better work from them. • By making formation of Unions difficult, the problems of workers will not be solved.
• By finishing Basic Necessities, “Make in India” will not be a success. By removing facilities like, water, toilet, security and by non-payment of over-time after eight hours of work, the productivity of workers will not increase.
• By putting workers on contract, you cannot expect more work from them. Modiji, I do not know who is advising you on these issues but you should also spend some time with those people who understand the workers. Because, whosever is advising you, is giving wrong advise. Whenever I have talks with the workers, they talk about their fear. They live by every day. The sword of fear is dangling over their head oflosing their jobs.
They do not even know whether they would be allowed inside the factory gate the next day or not. The only target of their life is to enter the factory gate. To achieve this, they even compromise with their self-respect and the Constitutional Rights. The worker who labours with his blood and sweat, should not have the compulsion to live in fear. When we give more power to the workers and treat them as partners then they are able to work in a better way.
The fear of losing job not only creates fear in the minds of workers but also badly affects the progress of the industry. The betterment of industry lies not in exploiting the workers but by honouring them. I have firm belief in my country. I have faith on the rich, middle class and poor people of this country. Rich people have wealth and they can take care of themselves. But the poor need to have a minimum security net. Without this security net, the worker cannot come out of the poverty line. When the Congress was in power, we pulled out crores of people out of poverty through MGNREGA.
We gave protection to farmers by waiving off Rs. 70,000 debt. We gave the poor the Right to Food. Modiji tried to snatch the land of the farmers by bringing the ordinance three times. But the 45 MP’s of the Congress Party stopped Modiji from doing this wrong thing. I make a promise to you from this forum that we shall protect your rights. We shall join hands with INTUC. India can have your sweat, but we will not allow them to have your blood and tears.