Eminent Labour Economist & Professor, Human Resources Management Area at XLRI – Xavier School of Management, Dr. K.R. Shyam Sundar’s new book titled – ‘IMPACT OF COVID-19, REFORMS, POOR GOVERNANCE ON LABOUR RIGHTS IN INDIA’ was released recently at a virtual event. He dedicated the book to the premier international academic body (co-founded by former President Shri V.V. Giri), the Indian Society of Labour Economics.


The book authored by Dr. K.R. Shyam Sundar, XLRI provides a critical and comprehensive analyses on the contemporary developments during the Pandemic-hit period 2020-21 concerning migrant workers, unorganized workers, labour rights, complete failure of the governance of the labour market, the Labour Codes that were hurriedly enacted by the Union Government and regional labour reforms measures. It also discusses the responses and strategies followed by the trade unions. The book not only critically analyses the contemporary developments but also provides valuable recommendations based on the People-centered ILO approach.



At a formal web function the book was released by Prof. D. Narasimha Reddy (Professor of Economics (Retired), University of Hyderabad) in the presence of Prof. Babu Mathew, Professor, National Law School of India University, Prof Praveen Jha, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, Ms. Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan, ILO consultant; Leading Labour Advocate, Chennai and Dr Radhicka Kapoor, Senior Fellow, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).


Talking about the book released, Dr. K. R. Shyam Sundar said, “Ever since the introduction of economic reforms in 1991 in India, employers and critics of labour regulation have argued for the introduction of reforms of the labour laws and the inspection system. They demanded codification of labour laws and introduction of employer-friendly reforms in the process.  The Central government irrespective of the parties in power is committed to labour laws reforms, more so the NDA government.  On the other hand, the trade unions have stridently argued that in the era of globalization job losses have become rampant, the quality of jobs has deteriorated considerably and hence demand that labour laws need to be universalized and be effectively implemented.”


“The COVID-19 Pandemic has wrought the worst possible havoc both on lives and livelihoods of people in all the countries.  However, the adverse impact has landed far more severely on the vulnerably placed informal and the unorganized workers, people below the poverty line and thereby exacerbating existing inequalities in the economic system. ILO strongly recommended a four-pillar approach is a comprehensive and balanced approach arguing for designing policies and measures based on social dialogue to ensure employment generation, income and social protection and workers’ rights and support to firm. But the tale of policy-making in India during the Pandemic does not conform much to the healthy perspective of ILO. My book is based on the fundamental premise that labour institutions and social dialogue are indispensable for promoting sound labour market and industrial relations policies that would at once protect both employers’ and workers’ rights and concerns, especially during the crisis-ridden crucial time such as the one we are facing now.” He further added.  


While releasing the book, Prof. D. Narasimha Reddy, Professor of Economics (Retired), University of Hyderabad commented, “Here is a book that tells you the precariousness of the migrant and informal workers during the pandemic COVID-19 due to the conscious failure of the state and the apathy of the judiciary. In much more detail it exposes the deficits of the reforms emerging in the shape of the Four Labour Codes”


Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Babu Mathew, Director, Centre for Labour Studies, National Law School, Bengaluru, “I commend this book of Prof Sham Sundar to serious students of labour studies: One must carefully read  both  the explicit message  and the one between the lines to decipher the glaring and I’ll informed swing of the Indian State towards “Ease of doing business” while grossly neglecting  “Core labour standards” and “decent conditions at  work” for  the impoverished millions.”

Prof. Praveen Jha Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi said “Professor K.R. Shyam Sundar has been a major scholar of Industrial Relations in India and has a substantive body of work to his credit. The current book focuses on the context of the COVID 19 pandemic and it’s implications for the world of work. It consists of his short and incisive pieces on the devastating impacts of governance and policy failures during the pandemic on livelihoods of the working people in general and multiple deprivations they have been subjected to. Prof Sundar has chronicled these with care, empathy and eye for details, while providing a persuasive analysis. It is a fine balance that the book offers in terms of description and powerful insights. I recommend it as a must read for those interested in the subject.”

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