Remove injustices like income disparity, Amartya Sen tells unions

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 16, 2013 15:20 hrs

Kolkata, Feb 16 (IANS) Calling it an "injustice" that wages in India had not gone up enough compared to the growth rate in per capita national income, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen Saturday urged labour unions to remove that disparity to bring "some justice" in income distribution.

"If we look at the distribution of income in India, wages have been lagging behind the general advancement of national income per head. Looking at the statistics over the last 20 years, India has seen a lot of economic growth, but wage rates have fallen behind... rural labourers in particular have enormously lagging behind," Sen said.

The renowned economist and leading social thinker was speaking on the occasion of the 90th anniversary celebrations of Reserve Bank Employees Association here.

He said rural wages in China in the last 20 years had witnessed six to seven times faster growth than rural wages in India. "That is an important issue of injustice."

According to him, because of the fact that wage rates had fallen behind the overall per head GNP (gross national product) growth rate in India, injustice like malnutrition and concerns over public health cropped up.

"A large deprivation comes from the fact that wages have not gone up," Sen pointed out, saying unions had to play a major part in removing this injustice.

He also urged unions to play a greater role in maintaining and upholding the country's secularism.

"Unions have a particular role to play in the defence of secularism in India. Secularism has been under threat for a few times. To some extent it still exists. I think that the threats to Indian secularism have not gone away,"

Unions should have "secular commitments", he said.

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