Workers and Employment


Aman Kayal, Academic Content Writer at Edumarz

What is employment? Who is a worker? 

When a farmer works on fields, he or she produces food grains and raw materials for industries. Cotton becomes cloth in textile mills and in powerlooms. Lorries transport goods from one place to another. We know that the total money value of all such final goods and services produced in a country in a year is called its gross domestic product for that year. When we also consider what we pay for our imports and get from our exports we find that there is a net earning for the country which may be positive (if we have exported more in value terms than imported or negative or zero . When we add this earning from foreign transactions, what we get is called the country’s gross national product for that year. Those activities which contribute to the gross national product are called economic activities. All those who are engaged in economic activities, in whatever capacity — high or low, are workers. Even if some of them temporarily abstain from work due to illness, injury or other physical disability, bad weather, festivals, social or religious functions, they are also workers. Workers also include all those who help the main workers in these activities. We generally think of only those who are paid by an employer for their work as workers. This is not so. Those who are self-employed are also workers. The nature of employment in India is multifaceted. Some get employment throughout the year; some others get employed for only a few months in a year. Many workers do not get fair wages for their work. While estimating the number of workers, all those who are engaged in economic activities are included as employed. You might be interested in knowing the number of people actively engaged in various economic activities. During 2017-18, India had about a 471 million strong workforce. Since the majority of our people reside in rural areas, the proportion of the workforce residing there is higher. The rural workers constitute about two thirds of this 471 million. Men form the majority of the workforce in India. About 77 per cent of the workers are men and the rest are women(men and women include child labourers in respective sexes). Women workers account for one-fourth of the rural workforce whereas in urban areas, they are just one-fifth of the workforce. Women carry out works like cooking, fetching water and fuelwood and participate in farm labour. They are not paid wages in cash or in the form of grains; at times they are not paid at all. For this reason, these women are not categorised as workers. Economists argue that these women should also be called workers.

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