I am quite thankful to Prof. K.P. Chellaswamy (KPC) to permit me to dedicate this book in his honour. What adds flavour to the book is the Foreword written by Dr. K. Baskaran, who has been associated with KPC during his tenure as a faculty in the Department of Economics, Guru Nanak College, Guindy and then after. Only a few only could have known KPC, as well as Dr. Baskaran does and Dr. Baskaran has been my favourite teacher and was well respected by the student community in the college. So, his Foreword is special to me and we thank him for his evocative Foreword.
India despite the controversies surrounding the national income statistics is still one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Do these growth stories. and predictions bring cheer to the millions of toilers? This has been the thrust of the debate brewing in the professional and popular outlets in India and abroad. Recently, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come back to power with an astounding majority and immediately the media is abuzz with expectations from the Industry Bodies for reforms of labour laws. The Prime Minister is reported to have assured "single-minded pursuit of growth and promised reforms with respect to foreign direct investment (FDI), disinvestment, etc. (Economic Times, June 22, 2019, https:// economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/pm-modi-interacts-with economists-industry-experts-ahead-of-budget/articleshow/69906239.cms, accessed June 23, 2019).
Labour law reforms will surely figure in the discussions on policy reforms as job crisis which was one of the major concerns of the pre-election period continues to be relevant and pro-reformers have always argued for labour law reforms to solve the job crisis issue, as it will be evident from the articles in the book. The arguments in favour of labour laws and governance reforms are varied, but the main one is that such reforms will attract investment, enable employers to re allocate their resources from the unproductive to the productive businesses and thereby generate employment. The employment generation plank of the reforms argument in fact has given it a strong policy legitimacy. Employment generation in the economy is the surest way to tackle the twin evils of unemployment and poverty.
There has developed over the years a rather strong and recycled intellectual support to labour law reforms via two sources. One, a number of macro econometric studies most notably Fallon and Lucas in the early 1990s and more significantly by Besley and Burgess (BB) in the first half of the 2000s (see the text for the references of these studies) and the studies that used BB's methodology have consistently argued and arguably proved that labour market regulation has adversely affected industrial output and employment generation. Their argument contains an inbuilt proposition that economic growth is a sure outcome arising out of the pro-market policies and growth is a sure solution to solve unemployment and poverty. Two, a number of surveys the international agencies most notably by the World Bank to measure competitiveness of economies, ease of doing business, etc. have sought to show that the countries that reform labour laws amongst others are better off in terms of doing business. These surveys are closely watched by not only global capitalists but also the governments and policy makers.
On the other hand, several academics and trade unions do subscribe to this growth miracle story on two grounds. One, they argue that economic growth effects do not trickle down to the lower levels as predicted by the growth theories and jobless growth has been witnessed in the past and can occur in future either because growth has been over-estimated or capital-intensity has increased and this has contributed to a rise in the value added in the factory sector. The pro-reform studies have been vigorously contested by academics, trade unions and global institutions and they argue that labour institutions such as labour laws, trade unions and collective bargaining can and in fact do produce benevolent outcomes in the labour market and in the larger society as well. Further, the nagging and persistent stories of unequal distribution of income and wealth have added a huge amount of social concern.
I am extremely happy that a book entitled Labour Laws and Governance Reforms in the Post-Reform Period in India: Missing the Middle Ground? Essays in Honour of Prof. K.P. Chellaswamy is published by Dr. K. R. Shyam Sundar and Dr. Rahul Suresh Sapkal. Prof. K. P. Chellaswamy fondly known as KPC retired as Professor and Head of the Postgraduate Department of Economics, Guru Nanak College, Chennai, affiliated to the University of Madras. Dr. K. R. Shyam Sundar (henceforth KRSS) did his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Economics in Guru Nanak College when KPC was the Professor and Head of the Postgraduate Department of Economics in the college. It was during KPC's leadership the Department of Economics witnessed both horizontal and vertical growth. The Department library organized by him stands even today as a testimony to his hard work and vision. He even sacrificed administrative positions of authority for the sake of academic pursuit of knowledge and unadulterated love for teaching. He was a ting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras and his outstanding lectures are remembered even today by its alumni.
He was a much sought after faculty not only in Economics but also in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry and he excelled in all these branches by writing articles and offering special lectures. Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan defined a teacher thus: "a teacher is first a student; if he ceases to be a student, he ceases to be a teacher". Further, the Upanishads classify teachers into four categories, namely a poor teacher, an average teacher, a good teacher, and a great teacher. A poor teacher narrates, an average teacher explains, a good teacher analyses and a great teacher inspires. True to these, KPC has been a student and a great teacher who has inspired not only his students but also his fellow teachers. I am fortunate enough to be associated with him for over forty years and draw inspiration from him in my professional and personal life.
I am sure that his inspiring lectures on various fields peppered with labour issues during postgraduate education inspired KRSS to pursue this branch of knowledge as his field of specialization. This book is a fitting tribute to a great professor by his equally inspiring student KRSS.
The post-reform era is witnessing a critical phase where labour is increasingly substituted by capital and technology in all the sectors of the economy and this is leading to the displacement of labour and jobless growth. It is important to note that workers employed in both the organized and the unorganized sectors face multiple problems like job insecurity, wage disparities, unhealthy working conditions, gender inequality, discrimination, etc. Many economists particularly Marxian economists see labour as a sole productive agent of production. In this critical phase of reforms, the authors of this book argue for strengthening of the labour institutions in the labour market in consonance with the ILO's Decent Work perspective. Their approach assumes special significance as the ILO is celebrating its 100 years glorious existence during 2019. Dr. KRSS and Dr. Sapkal in their five-part analyses have addressed and answered many questions concerning labour market and industrial relations using effectively the institutional perspective and where necessary. through comparative and case study approaches.
This well-compiled book will surely inspire many to do further research on labour market issues and provide useful guidelines to the policy makers. I congratulate Dr. KRSS and Dr. Sapkal for bringing out this volume in honour of Professor KPC and wish them success in all their endeavours.
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