Towards an India wage report

The level of wages are of fundamental importance for the living standards of wage earners and their families. The report brings together the various aspects of the wage system in India and analyses issues based on unit level data.

Despite impressive economic growth over the last three decades, India continues to be a low wage large economy characterized by the domination of self-employment activities. The focus on the wage situation is confined to the universe of wage labour, which is only around half the work force in 2012. Though there has been an increasing trend in wages since the early 1990s there is no evidence to show whether this has been due to the increased demand in the labour market or a higher bargaining power of workers. Wage disparities across gender, education, region, social group identity and type of employment continue to persist.

The report underscores the need for a developmental perspective to improve the wage condition of the labouring poor who are mostly employed as casual workers in both rural and urban areas and to introduce a National Minimum Wage, worked out by the Government of India. It also calls for to expand and strengthen the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). Considering the need for a skilled workforce, the report also recommends the introduction of a skill development programme built into the MGNREGS to enhance labour productivity.