Discuss the factors that contributed to the growth of trade union movement in India during the first quarter of 20th century. Do you agree with the view that the unprecedented growth of Indian industry during First World War resulted in rise of wages – thus contributing more power to trade union movement?

Trade unions are organizations of workers formed to protect the rights and interests of workers through collective action.  The trade union movement developed in India as a response to the challenges faced by the working class as a consequence of industrial development.
Though the modern industries began to establish in India after 1857; trade unions began to develop only from 1920. There are various factors that contributed for growth of trade union movements in India as follows:

  • After the outbreak of World war-I the prices of essential commodities began to raise but at the same time the wages of labor did not change
  • Poor and miserable working conditions of the workers
  • Russian revolution of 1917 and establishment USSR made workers to think about their social order
  • Establishment of ILO in 1919 for the protection of interest of workers
  • During 1920’s the growth of socialist ideology began to develop in India which led to formation of trade unions
  • The Gaya session of congress in 1922 of the congress adopted a resolution enabling party workers to participate in trade union activities gave further impetus to trade unions
  • Growth communist parties which started taking active interests in the grievances of workers led to growth of trade union movement

I don’t agree with the view that the unprecedented growth of Indian industry during First World War resulted in rise of wages – thus contributing more power to trade union movement – because this view is factually incorrect. Though the number of industries started increasing after world war-I, it did not increase the wages. Though wages increased slightly, the prices of essential commodities increased exponentially after WW-I. In fact, the fewer wage remained one of the reasons for rise of trade unions in India.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Discuss the factors that contributed to the growth of trade union movement in India during the first quarter of 20th century. Do you agree with the view that the unprecedented growth of Indian industry during First World War resulted in rise of wages - thus contributing more power to trade union movement?

Published: September 22, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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