Work and perks

Broom“Shouldn’t she also have a holiday”, I remember asking this question to my parents one Independence Day (15th August) when I was about eight or nine. How do you or your parents react when the maid, driver, cook or gardener asks for a leave? Can’t make a general statement here, but many frown. There is never an agreement on how many days of leave your ’employees’ can amicably take every year. Let us not even get into things like health benefits, injury liabilities, working conditions and stuff.

Its not as easy though. And a good number of ’employers’ in the unorganized sector are not as ‘cruel’ as I am making them sound. But what should be the role of state in bettering the working conditions and benefits?

I see the state working only one one side of the equation here. Subsidized low cost housing, which almost always gets ‘resold’ at market price and the original ‘owner’ moves out to live in a new hut. Subsidized delivery mechanisms for health, food, education etc that haven’t been doing enough to lift ‘these’ folks out of low rung economic activity.

How about I say this. Those who can afford to pay for the services, the folks who are blessed to be the early beneficiaries of our economic boom aren’t parting with enough. In other words, they (myself included) aren’t passing enough money down the stream to accelerate the so called ‘inclusive’ growth. [Remember: not many pay taxes]

See this thing another way. Tens of lakhs of rupees that you and me paid to get our overpriced apartments, how exactly does that travel ‘downstream’. If you remember my pizza thought (Capitalist mind, Socialist heart), similar worries apply there as well. How do I know that every time I pay for an overly expensive meal, the money does filter down in a ‘reasonable’ way?

Now, back to the question, what should be the role of state here? It is easy for me to sound off in this leftist and communist fashion, but it is a valid demand and supply game after all. There are just too many unskilled jobless people in our country. Besides, you and me and businesses can and do pay taxes that go towards helping these unskilled and waiting-to-be-uplifted folks.

Given that we know government’s mechanisms of directly ‘touching’ the poor and unskilled folks are not very efficient, may be some legislations to put more direct responsibility on employers will work better and faster.

What if you and me and small and medium businesses were made to fork out a higher minimum wage for our ’employees’. Mandatory to provide some health coverage, education benefits as well? And what if we all got tax breaks if we did all this? So it would be like a choice, pay more tax and trust the state to put that money in poor people’s pockets. Or you do that yourself and save on some tax.

[PS: I am not an economist, please do pardon oversights and simplifications]

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