Industrial class structure started taking shape during British period During British period in cities a new industrial and mercantile middle class came into being. There also emerged a new bureaucratic administrative class. After independence industrial class took a new shape. The effects of industrialization have been
- The percentage of workers engaged in agricultural has come down while that of works engaged in individual activities has gone up.
- The process of social mobility has accelerated
- Trade unions have organized industrial workers to fight for their rights.
- Since industrial workers maintain continued and close and relationship with their kin-groups and castes, caste stratification has an affected class character
- The traditional and charismatic elite have been replaced by the professional elite.
Morris D. Morris has referred to two view points regarding the behaviour pattern of the industrial labour.
- One view is the labour being short in industry, employers had to scramble for their workforce and make all sorts of concessions which weakened their hold on workers. The workers frequently returned to their villages to which they were very much attached
- The other view talks of surplus of labour available villages for the urban employment Because of easy availability the employers abused workers unmercifully. Since working conditions in the factories were intolerable, the labour was forced to go back to their villages.
- Thus, in both views, it was held that workers retained their links with villages which limited the supply of labour for industrial development As a consequence, proletarian type of behaviour did not develop. It also resulted in high rates of absenteeism, labour turnover and the slow growth of trade unions.
Beside the above features, other features of industrial class workers were also visible.
- First, the employment of women and children in industries was very limited About 20 and 25 per cent of labour force consisted of women and about 5 per cent of children. This was because employment of women in night shifts was prohibited and children below 14 years could not be legally employed
- Secondly, though it is argued that industry is caste blind because no single caste can provide an adequate supply of labour and because employees are uninterested in caste affiliation, yet workers did not permit the employers to employ workers of untouchable castes.
- Thirdly, large number of workers in the industries were those who had no significant claim district in which the industry was located but were returned from different districts as well as neighbouring states. There were, thus, no geographical barriers inhibiting the flow of labour into the industry. The rural social structure (joint family system, etc.) was also not a barrier to one estimate, of the total workers in any industry, about 25 per cent are local, 10 pr cent come from within 100 kins of industry’s location, 50 per cent from 100 to 750 kins and 15 per cent from more than 750 kins. This shows a tendency for industry hands to be drawn from increasingly distant areas. All these features explain the class aspect of industrial labour force in India.
Analyzing the ‘working class’, Holmstrom has said that all workers do not share all interests; rather they share a few interests only. He has also said that it is necessary to draw a class line between the organized and the unorganized sector industrial workers.
Joshi (1976) also has said that organized and unorganized sector industrial workers are two classes with different and conflicting interests. This can be explained on the basis of difference in four factors wages, working conditions, security and social worlds.
- The wages depend upon whether the industry is big (more than1,000 workers),small (250-1,000 workers) or very small (less than 50 workers). In 1973, West Bengal laid down different minimum wages for above three types of industries.The big industries pay much more than the small industries because of the economics of scale, unions and worker’s strong bargaining position. Naturally, the interests of workers depend upon the type of industry they work in.
- The working conditions also affect the interests of workers. Workers in industries with more pleasant conditions, having safety measures and fewer accidents and less noise and monotony and fatigue, shorter hours, more space, freedom from close control or harassment, a chance of learning something more, canteens and creches and washing rooms have different interests from those which do not provide all these amenities. As such, they work as two different classes of workers.
- Security and career chances also demarcate two classes of workers. A permanent worker has not only a job but also a career while the temporary worker is bothered more about the security of the job. The permanent worker’s career extends into the future but the temporary one remains bogged down into the present The former may plan to improve his job by learning a skill and getting promotion, the latter is terrified of losing his job if he jobs a union.
- Lastly, the social worlds also divide workers in two different classes.The ‘Social world’ refers to differences in economic conditions, life chances, mutual aid and dependence etc.The factory workers in the organized sector have more solidarity ,fewer hostility and less tensions.Their interests and ideology keep them separate from the ‘outsiders’. Thus the organized sector workers form a privileged upper class.
Business Elite: Shadow of Industrial Class
An entrepreneurial class or business elite started emerging in India by the middle of the nineteenth century. Although prior to the British rule a group of enterprising business persons and traders existed in the country, but the new business elite came into prominence only during this period. Traditionally, most of the business persons belonged to the trading castes and communities. But when a new link was established between the Indian economy and that of Britain, members of some other castes also joined mercantile enterprises. As most of the business persons mainly worked as middle persons and brokers to British firms.
- These groups of business persons were primarily commercial agents and not industrial entrepreneurs. Moreover, they were located mainly in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai regions because commercial and industrial activities were concentrated in these regions.
- The members of this group mainly belonged to the upper castes. For example,Jains, Baniyas and Kayashthas had the upper hand over others in Kolkata region, Parsis and Jains in Mumbai, and in Chennai region, Chettiars controlled such businesses.
During the early part of the twentieth century the Indian industrial entrepreneurs started competing with the British. Gujrarati, Parsis and Marwari emerged as the dominant groups among the business elite. Sociological studies have shown two major characteristics of business elite in Indian in the first place,
Most of them are the members of the traditional trading castes and in this sense there is continuity with the past tradition.
Secondly, there has been a close link of this group with the nationalist movement in India. These features, as Yogendra Singh suggests, “Influences as role that the business elite play in the modernization of Indian society”.
- The size and role of business elite has phenomenally increased after independence. It has been primarily because of the expansion of industrial activities during the last few decades.
- The industrial business groups now organized their activities on modern scientific lines and are comparable to their counterparts outside the country. Trained manager manage their organizations. Thus, a kind of bureaucratic structure has emerged giving rise to a new class of industrial bureaucrats.
- The accelerated growth of business elite suggests a significant change in the entrepreneurial motivation of the people.The group is gradually becoming broad-based as members of the diverse social group sand castes are entering into this fold The industrial development of the backward regions in the country is a pointer to this trend.