The Planning Commission, usually more in the news on investments, savings and a host of policy issues on trade and manufacturing, is turning its eyes towards human capital as the subject becomes critical to nurturing high economic growth and attracting foreign investors.
It is moving to help employees in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector get better working conditions by pleading for legislative changes to provide better workplaces. This would form part of a mid-term review exercise of the current Eleventh Plan that ends in 2012.
The changes are aimed at building an “Advantage India” framework to draw foreign direct investment (FDI) and the focus will be to boost investor sentiment, government sources told Hindustan Times.
“The idea is to make India globally more competitive,” a senior government official familiar with the development told Hindustan Times.
Discussions on the issue are on at this stage and the finer print is yet get shape, he added.
A key emphasis will be on changing the definition of the word “workmen”—which dates back to laws of a different industrial age dominated by blue-collar employees —and expand it to help knowledge workers in industries such as BPO where the increasing employment of women and higher skilled workers is altering the context.
“The current definition has lost its content,” the official said.
He said the legislative changes will help BPO employees – who often work night-shifts — to get higher protection and safety in working conditions.
The BPO industry has been one of the top job generators in the country in the last few years. Under the current definition, unskilled labour comes under the category of workmen. “In the legal sense, even the BPO employees come under this definition, which is causing a sense of discomfort,” the source said.
The BPO industry employs lakhs of people and its size is estimated at $11 billion (Rs 50,600 crore) with a projected five-fold increase in size by 2012.
The mid-term appraisal exercise, which began in July, is likely to be completed this month. The report would be placed before the National Development Council — the country's highest decision making body —the next month.