RBI report on rural wages: West Bengal figures are much lower than national average

Published on : 10:09 PM Dec 02, 2021

There are four parameters for determining daily wage rates for the rural population in different Indian states and the country. Barring the sole parameter of horticulture workers, in terms of daily wage rates for the rural population West Bengal is far below the national average, according to the latest statistics of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Kolkata: There are four parameters for determining daily wage rates for the rural population in different Indian states and the country. The parameters are agriculture workers, construction workers, other non-agriculture workers and horticulture workers. Barring the sole parameter of horticulture workers, in terms of daily wage rates for the rural population West Bengal is far below the national average, according to the latest statistics of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

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RBI has released a report christened "Handbook of statistics on Indian States- 2020-21", which contains the details of the daily wage rates of the state-wise rural population of the country.

During the financial year 2020-21, in the horticulture workers parameter, the daily wage rate for the rural population in West Bengal is Rs 335.70, a figure which is way above the national average of Rs 309.10. However, the figure for West Bengal in 2020-21 has declined from what it was in the previous financial years of 2019-20 which was Rs 339.10. Advertisement

As per the RBI statistics, in 2020-21 under the general agriculture workers parameter, the daily wage rate for the rural population in West Bengal is Rs 288.60, which is far below the national average of Rs 309.90 on this count during the same period. However, the figure for West Bengal on this count has slightly improved from the figure of Rs 267.50 during the previous financial years of 2019-20. The best performer under this parameter is the Left Front- ruled southern Indian state of Kerala, where the figure on this count is Rs 706.50.

In 2020-21 under the construction workers parameter, the daily wage rate for the rural population in West Bengal was Rs 300.20, which is far below the national average of Rs 340.70 on this count during the same period. However, the figure for West Bengal on this count has slightly improved from the figure of Rs 290.50 during the previous financial year of 2019-20. The best performer under this parameter again is Kerala at Rs 829.70.

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Under the other non- agricultural workers parameter, in 2020-21, the daily wage rate for the rural population in West Bengal was Rs 305.8, which is lower than the national average of Rs 315.30. However, the figure for West Bengal on this count has slightly improved from the figure of Rs 291.10. The best performer under this parameter as well is Kerala at Rs 677.60.

On this issue, ETV Bharat spoke to a section of the economic and financial analysts. All of them expressed concern over this trend which they feel portrays an alarming picture about state of West Bengal’s economy.

Veteran economic analyst and financial columnist, Kunal Bose feels, "As per the land holding pattern in West Bengal, each owner of farmland has very small area of land under his or her ownership. So naturally, this farmland does not give the land owner enough reserve to offer a decent wage to the agriculture workers, thus the rural economy in the state is not flourishing enough in the recent times and the rural wage rates in the non-farm sectors are lower compared to the national average. This is an alarming signal for the state of rural economy in West Bengal,” Bose said.

While Kolkata based financial and investment consultant, Nilanjan Dey blames the state government. “I feel that the state government had not taken enough initiative to ensure the minimum wages for the agricultural workers. The state government will have to ensure that and initiative should start from today so that its positive impact can be felt after some years,” Dey said.

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Whereas former journalist and economic analyst, Santanu Sanyal, depicts a gloomy picture on this issue. “With regular monitoring and redressal mechanism, minimum wages can never be ensured. Hence the living conditions of agricultural workers in the state will never improve. Without the living conditions of agricultural workers the agriculture as a sector will not improve and the rural economy in the state will also not improve,” Sanyal said.

While state Labour Minister, Becharam Manna has a different take on it. “During the Trinamool Congress regime, the income of the farmers of the state has increased almost three times of what it was during the previous Left Front regime. Our government has introduced several projects for the unorganized sector workers and stood by the workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown period. So it is not true that the condition of the rural working class in the state is worse than the national average. Instead our government has been praised for various progresses including the 100-day job under MGNREGA scheme. Under daily wage scheme, the income of the tea garden workers has increased,” Manna said.

Also Read: RBI imposes monetary penalty on State Bank of India

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