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A Sociological Profile of a Public Sector Workforce

The article presents the results of a sociological survey of the Bangalore workforce of the Indian Telephone Industries, integrating within it an historical perspective by taking into account inter-generational evolution. The results throw light on changes, big and small, intervening in the morphology of the workforce from one generation to the next, largely in response to evolution of management policy, itself a result of the latter's engagement with the constantly unfolding political, social and economic context in which it operates.

SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly december 22, 200737A Sociological Profile of a Public Sector WorkforceDilip SubramanianThe article presents the results of a sociological survey of the Bangalore workforce of the Indian Telephone Industries, integrating within it an historical perspective by taking into account inter-generational evolution. The results throw light on changes, big and small, intervening in the morphology of the workforce from one generation to the next, largely in response to evolution of management policy, itself a result of the latter’s engagement with the constantly unfolding political, social and economic context in which it operates.Writing in 1977, the sociologist N R Sheth bemoaned that “very little material of real contemporary value” on the sociology of Indian industrial workers is available to scholars engaged in studying this field [Sheth 1977: 76]. Three decades on, much the same lament can be sung. Our knowledge of the demographic profiles, socio-economic origins and careers of wage earners in both the organised sector and the informal sector has not advanced a great deal. Nor is the situation very likely to improve in the future. The qualitative turn that currently reigns as the hegemonic conceptual paradigm in the social sci-ences has without doubt rendered survey information, question-naires, formal interviews and the like totally démodé, at least in the field of labour research. Survey MethodWhilst this paper professes no programmatic intentions, it does, though, harbour the ambition of responding to Sheth’s plea of augmenting our knowledge of the sociology of industrial work-ers, particularly at a moment when the country’s labouring land-scape is undergoing a profound transformation. It presents the results of the largest sample survey conducted so far of the organ-ised sector workforce1 covering a population of 1,129 employees hired by the public sector company,ITI at its flagship Bangalore factory.2 The survey deploys a conventional statistical tool, multivariate procedures, but one put to decidedly historical uses,thereby distinguishing our approach from that commonly embraced by sociologists. The sociological surveys of factory operatives that we dispose by restricting their compass to cross-sectional snapshots only succeed in presenting us with static images. Burdened by a marked synchronic bias, what emerges from these studies is a composite picture of a “typical” worker, defined on a once-and-for-all basis by a cluster of fixed, even immutable, traits or at-tributes which while useful is inadequate. The emphasis on gen-eralisation and the search for patterns of regularities means that evolutions in the structural composition of the workforce receive short shrift. To avoid the same pitfalls, we have adopted an inter-genera-tional perspective as opposed to an intra-generational one in compiling our data base, thus enabling us to stress the valency of temporal factors in our findings. This solution offers us the dual advantage of weaving into our examination of the aggregate re-sults a more dynamic reading, attentive to the transformations and contrasts that manifested themselves as the factory absorbed each new wave of workers. For as we shall show, while transver-sal tendencies cutting across the generations were not absent, the Dilip Subramanian ( is a postdoctoral fellow at the Cultures et Sociétés Urbaines(CSU-CNRS) research centre, Paris.
SPECIAL ARTICLEdecember 22, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly38structural features of the workforce remained anything but con-stant from one period to the next. Our sample population is drawn from five successive cohorts of workers who entered ITI over a period of five decades starting from the foundation of the company in 1948. While about a quar-ter of the population arrived in the 1950s, another 28 per cent joined in the 1960s, close to 37 per cent in the 1970s, six per cent in the 1980s and under one per cent in the 1990s(Table 1). These figures bear a rough equivalence with the evolutions in the strength of the workforce at the Bangalore plant. Between 1950 and 1980, the workforce expanded at an explosive pace reaching its apogee in 1980 when the plant counted 19,200 people on its rolls. But from the early 1980s onwards, recruit-ment flows slowed to a trickle before drying up altogether in the 1990s, as the company lost its monopoly position and its fortunes nosedived.3 Our analysis of the morphology of the ITI la-bour force also diverges from the sociological surveys in that it depends exclusively on infor-mation gathered from individual personnel files maintained by the company rather than on ques-tionnaires and/or formal interview schedules.4 A proverbial treasure trove for scholars, shedding light on the en-tire career of a worker from the time of entering the factory to the date of retirement, these records contain two types of informa-tion which we may broadly designate as sociological and profes-sional in content. Given that details such as birth dates, educa-tional qualifications, caste, and job experience contained in the personnel files require to be supported by officially certified doc-uments, which are often cross-checked by the management, one could also perhaps argue that they constitute a relatively more reliable source of information in comparison with the formal in-terview and questionnaire techniques where the risk of observer bias influencing respondents’ answers can hardly be discounted.Geographical Origins One striking feature about the origins of our sample population is that 40 per cent of the employees could claim local and urban roots, having been born in Bangalore (Table 2). Further reinforc-ing this local colouring, not only did three out of four employees come from within Karnataka for theperiod as a whole, albeit sig-nificant variations from one decade to the next, the majority of them were born in what could be called the natural hinterland of Bangalore, the southern maidans. The six districts constituting the maidans (Bangalore district, Chitradurga, Kolar, Mandya, Mysore and Tumkur), and situated within a radius of 200 kms from Bangalore, accounted for over 80 per cent of the sample who while originating from the state were not “natives” of the capital city (Table 2). So whatever intra-state migration that oc-curred to tap the job openings inITI was essentially short dis-tance in character. Even the remaining quarter of the sample whose birthplaces were located outside Karnataka did not have to travel from very far afield. All but one per cent of the employees belonged to the three neighbouring southern states with Tamil Nadu heading the list (12 per cent), followed by Andhra and Kerala (6 per cent each) (Table 2). This confirms the findings of an important study con-ducted in the early 1970s which contended that Bangalore’s at-traction as a metropolitan growth pole did not exceed a macro-regional perimeter [Rao and Tiwari 1979: 245-54]. Moreover, residents from Tamil Nadu and, to a smaller extent, Andhra migrated in the main from districts contiguous to Karna-taka and which had a long tradition of sending unemployed youth to Bangalore in search of work. In the case of Tamil Nadu, one out of three people in the sample was born in North Arcot district. This fully bears out the salience of the premise that the pull fac-tors propelling migratory projects “do not operate randomly but rather apply only to specific destinations”, distinguished by the presence of kin or friendship networks and access to information about potential employment opportunities and other such crucial life issues [Anthony 1990: 899]. In the case of migrants from Andhra, the influence of specific labour catchment areas is even more pronounced: two out of three employees in our sample came from the districts of Nellore (49 per cent) and Chittoor (19 per cent). Equally significant, this spatial clustering or segmentation intersected with a caste and occupational clustering. All but two of the 34 workers born in Nellore district belonged to scheduled caste communities (Adi Andhra), and all but one of them were hired byITI for menial tasks such as sweeping and cleaning or as labourers. If the prac-tice of reserving dirty work for “outcastes” is hardly surprising, the fact that these occupations were monopolised to a large ex-tent by one ethnic grouping attests to the important role played by kinship or friendship connections in providing information about job openings in the company. What does a correlation of the data pertaining to workers’ birthplaces with their year of entry into ITI tell us about evolu-tions in the morphology of the workforce and company hiring policies? Focusing first on the structure of the workforce, we find that Bangalore-born workers constituted the single largest group in all years Table 2. Barring the 1990s, a non-representative periodanyway, their share consistently stood above 34 per cent, though inter-decade fluctuations can be observed. A similar une-ven movement is visible as far as workers from the southern maidansare concerned. The upshot of these shifts and swings is that employees originating from Karnataka, after having madeupalmost three-fourth of the total sample workforce dur-ing the 1950s, saw their share drop to around 64 per cent during Table 1: Sample Population by Entry YearEntry Year Frequency1948-58 281 (24.89)1959-68 323 (28.61)1969-78 433 (38.35)1979-88 84 (7.44)1989-98 8 (0.71)Total 1129 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 2: Birthplace by Entry YearEntry Year Unknown Bangalore Banglore Southern Other Andhra Tamil Kerala Other Total DistrictMaidansKarnatakaPradeshNadu1948-58 0 128 19547 8 47135 281 (45.55)(6.76)(19.22)(2.49)(2.85)(16.73)(4.63)(1.78)(100) 1959-68 3 112 21 54 211754374 323 (0.93)(34.67)(6.50)(16.72)(6.50)(5.26)(16.72)(11.46)(1.24)(100)1969-78 0 173 42106 26 3731153 433 (39.95) (9.70) (24.48) (6.00) (8.55) (7.16) (3.46) (0.69)(100)1979-88 0 41 9 12 7 6 5 4 0 84 (48.81) (10.71) (14.29) (8.33)(7.14)(5.95) (4.76) (100)1989-98 0 2 0 3 1 1 1 0 0 8 (25) (37.5) (12.5) (12.5) (12.5) (100)Total 3 456 91229 62 69 138 69 121129 (0.27)(40.39) (8.06) (20.28) (5.49)(6.11)(12.22) (6.11)(1.06) (100)(1) All tables presenting the results of the multivariate analysis have been conduced with the SAS programme.(2) Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly december 22, 200739the 1960s and then grow to 80 per cent in the next decade for reasons we shall discuss below. Other inter-generational variations also emerge. Employees in our sample from the maidan areas recruited in the 1950s and 1960s came in the main either from the neighbouring Bangalore district, or from cities which had an industrial base like Mysore or KGF, or from agriculturally depressed districts like Kolar (Table3). Migrants from the other, and more advanced, agrarian districts such as Mandya, Tumkur and Hassan were distinctly in the minority to begin with. The trend re-versed somewhat in the 1970s. Even as the flow from the traditional catchment areas such as Bangalore, Kolar and Mysore dis-tricts did not slacken, equally there was a significant increase in intake from the other districts.One could speculate that many of these employees were the childrenofpeas-ants, beneficiaries of the green revolution that areas like Mandya and Tumkur wit-nessed. Indeed, leaving aside Bangalore dis-trict, more members of our maidan popula-tion who entered ITI in 1970s cited agricul-ture as their father’s occupation than any other section of our sample. The completion of the construction of the Krishnarajasagar dam over the Cauvery river by 1956, by intro-ducing canal irrigation facilities indispensable for the cultivation of cash crops such as sugar cane and paddy, had contributed in no small measure to the prosperity of the land-owning sections of the rural population. Included in 1962 in the all-India intensive agricultural district programme, aimed at maximising agricul-tural production, Mandya also witnessed a tremendous expan-sion in both public and privately-fundededucationalinstitu-tions at all levels [Epstein1973:72-75]. These macro-level developments are clearly reflected in the improved educational standards, both general and technical, of maidan-born recruits. The number of employees from these areas equipped with technical qualifications rose almost threefold from about 22 per cent in the 1960s to 60 per cent in the following dec-ade. Having invested in the education of at least one of theirmale offspring as part of the overall family life course strategy,bet-ter off farmers now aspired to fructify this capital by sending their sons to the cities to find employment, preferably in the gov-ernment or in state-owned companies where the promise of ex-clusive job rights and the attached prestige could redound to the advantage of the employee on the matrimonial market. In this quest for upward mobility, contingency too played a non-negligible role with the peasantry aided by events on the po-litical landscape. The increase in the proportion of employees re-cruited from the maidan districts in the1970scanbeattributedto the upshot of the linguistic agitation that gripped Bangalore from the late 1960s onwards as well as pressure exerted by the state government authorities upon public sector managements to priv-ilege “sons of the soil” when filling up vacancies for unskilled and semi-skilled jobs. Thus, four out of five workers recruited during the 1970s in our sample were born in Karnataka (Table 2).Further confirmation of the nativist orientation to hiring poli-cies is provided when we study the evolution in the strength of our non-local population. Two contrary movements emerge. On the one hand, there is a significant diminution in the proportion of employees originating from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the two main outside linguistic groupings accused of depriving local Kan-nada youth of employment opportunities and against whom much of the hostility crystallised. Whereas 17 per cent of the workforce recruited in the 1950s and 1960s was from Tamil Nadu, this figure was cut by more than two in the 1970s and again fell in the following decade (Table 2). Likewise, in the case of employees from Kerala, their numbers while growing almost three-fold to 11 per cent between 1959 and 1968 dropped to less than four per cent a decade later before rising marginally by one point in the 1980s (Table 2). On the other hand, no such shrinkage af-fected those in our sample born in Andhra. Not regarded as outsiders by the local Kan-nada population, given the cultural affini-ties between the two communities, the share of Andhra employees registered a pro-gressive increase and crossed the eight per cent mark in the 1970s. Even in the 1980s, they comprised about 7 per cent of our sample workforce. Thus, what we witness over time is a narrowing rather than a diversifi-cation of the principal migratory areas from where our non-local population originated. Linguistic OriginsIn view of the sharp cleavages running through the workforce in the aftermath of the clashes inITI during the late 1960s and early 1970s pitting Kannadigas against Tamilians, the linguistic back-ground of the workforce represents a determining variable. Given the numerical weight of Karnataka-born employees in our sur-vey, native Kannada speakers expectedly were the largest lin-guistic entity, making up 45 per cent of the population (Table 4, p40). Tamil speakers came next (31 per cent), followed by Telegu speakers (11 per cent) and then Malayalis (6 per cent). Moreover, with the exception of the 1950s when a slightly higher proportion of Tamilians could be found, the hegemony of the Kannadigas went unchallenged in the later periods. In the 1970s, for instance, they outnumbered Tamil employees more than two to one. At the same time, the non-negligible presence of Kannada speakers, originating to boot from different parts of the state, from the very inception of ITI challenges the popular essentialist representa-tion portraying the local Kannadiga as bound to his peasant moorings and loath to take up industrial occupation. While this interpretation may have been valid for the colonial epoch in view of the broad based patterns of land distribution prevalent in the old princely state of Mysore, the situation definitely appears to have evolved in the wake of independence.The fact that the preponderant majority of our sample came from Karnataka did not, however, imply that all were Kannada speakers. On the contrary, more than a third of all those born in Table 3: Birthplace Southern MaidansBirthplace CohortCohortCohortCohortTotal 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980-90s PopulationBangalore 19 21 42 9 91 district (28.4)Chitradurga 3 3 5 1 12 (3.7)Hassan 2 3 111 17 (5.3)Kolar dist +KGF 23 24 42 6 95 (29.7)Mandya 1 2 151 19 (5.9)Mysore 192016156 (17.5)Tumkur 7 2 174 30 (9.4)Total 73 75 148 24 320 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEdecember 22, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly40Bangalore were Tamil speakers. Or to put it differently, a greater number of Tamil speaking employees were born within the fron-tiers of Karnataka than in Tamil Nadu, clearly underscoring their right to be designated as insiders. Likewise, over one in three Tel-egu speakers mentioned Bangalore as their birthplace. Inversely, testifying as much to the linguistic heterogeneity of Bangalore as to the relatively “subordinate” status of Kannada in the state capi-tal, only 40 per cent of our total Kannadiga population originated from the city. Indeed, Kannada speaking employees born in Ban-galore outnumbered their Tamil speaking counterparts only dur-ing the 1960s and 1970s. In the other periods, they were in the minority. RecruitmentIn distinct contrast to the findings reported by virtually all socio-logical studies of industrial workforces in the post-independence period, the evidence from our sample emphatically shows that the system of recruitment inITI relied exclusively on formal bu-reaucratic mechanisms. To ensure fairness and transparency, well-codified selection procedures were instituted by the person-nel department almost from the very inception of the company. These procedural norms took the form of minimum educational qualifications, trade tests, medical examinations, the delivery of a conduct certificate by a gazetted government officer, character verification, and probationary periods. From the early 1960s on-wards, even for the lowest ranked production jobs the manage-ment required candidates to have studied up to high school at least and to undergo an aptitude test. Formal educational credentials were dispensed with only for purely menial occupations. As a result of all these formalised measures, not only was recruitment direct and unmediated with groups such as jobbers, sirdars, mistris and the like which had fulfilled the func-tional role of intermediaries in the hiring process during the colonial ep-och being conspicuously absent. More significantly, even informalsocial chan-nels, articulated via kinfolk, castefolk, fellow villagers,friends and the like working in the factory, played a very marginal role in securing employment for prospective candidates. While the effectiveness of these networks in re-laying information about job openings was undeniable, personal connections were of little direct utility in helping to land a job. Nor was the union in any position to exert influence and act as patrons by promising jobs in return for influence and bribes. A demand formulated by the union in 1971 calling for the presence of one elected representative on all selectioncommitteesaswellas the right to inspect all recruitment-related records was rejected out of hand by the management. For certain, the children ofITIemployees aspiring to join the compa-ny received “special consideration” or “out of turn” employment, but our sample contains no more than 20 such cases. Besides, the management argued that accepting the union’s demand to sys-tematically give preference to employees’ dependents in recruit-ment would amount to a violation of constitutional provisions. The establishment of such a tightly-regulated and impersonal hiring policy can, no doubt, be attributed to ITI’s status as a pub-licly-owned company. As the report of the National Commission on Labour remarked in 1969, in the newer establishments, and particularly the public sector, employers have “adopted practices which give to employment seekers a feeling that their just claims will not be disregarded” [Report of the National Commission on Labour 1969: 72-73]. Moreover, unlike in the case of enterprises run by the state governments as well as in certain sectors such as mining, where the prevalence of clientelist networks translates into constant political interference in recruitment issues, top executives in firms such asITI seem to have been generally insulated from these kinds of pressures. Probing our recruitment data reveals that nearly 28 per cent of our sample found work by answering newspaper advertisements. Such ads were placed by the management both in English language and in certain vernacular dailies. A quarter of the employees had directly submitted written applications to the company. Another 18 per cent had first worked as casual employees before being appointed on a permanent basis on the company’s rolls. Those selected through the channel of the employment exchange comprised 17 per cent of our popula-tion. Finally, four per cent of the re-cruitments consisted of dependents, both widows and sons, of employees who had died in service. Integrating a temporal perspective, and the variations that emerge, al-lows us to underline three points. First, the principal modeofrecruit-ment in the decade 1948-58, peti-tioning the company directly for jobs remained a well-established practice in later years as well (Table 5). Sec-ond, if advertisements accounted for almost a third of all hirings in our sample in the years 1948-58, the fig-ure rose to over a half in the next dec-ade. This increase is quite paradoxical for it occurred precisely at a time when the government introduced the Compulsory Notification of Vacancies Act (1959). As its name indicated, the legislation rendered it obligatory for public and private sector companies alike to list all job openings with local employment exchanges. But dissatisfied with the quality of candidates recommended by the exchanges,ITI continued to simultaneously advertise vacant posts despite repeated objections raised by exchange officials. The number of new entrants who came through the Table 5: Recruitment Mode by Entry YearRecruitment Mode 1948-58 1959-68 1969-78 1979-88 1989-98 TotalUnknown 2219423 0 86 (25.88) (22.35) (48.83) (3.53)(100)Casual 314391385208 (14.9)(20.67)(43.75)(18.27)(2.4)(100)Adverts 102 166 441 0 313 (32.59) (53.04) (14.06) (0.32)(100)Direct 121 79 78 2 0 280 (43.21) (28.21) (27.86) (0.71)(100)Employ exchange 3 13 162 16 1 195 (1.54)(6.67)(83.08)(8.21)(0.51)(100)Dependents 2 3 16 24 2 47 (4.26) (6.38)(34.04) (51.06) (4.26) (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 4: Entry Year by Mother Tongue EntryYear Unknown Kannada Tamil Telegu Malayalam Other Total1948-58 7 106 113 331012281 (2.49)(37.72) (40.21) (11.74) (3.56) (4.27)(100)1959-68 4 119 106 334021323 (1.24)(36.84) (32.82) (10.22) (12.38) (6.50) (100)1969-78 3 234 106 551619433 (0.69)(54.04) (24.48) (12.70) (3.70) (4.39)(100)1979-88 0 4230 8 3 1 84 (50) (35.71) (9.52) (3.57)(1.19)(7.44)1989-98 0 4 2 1 1 0 8 (50)(25) (12.5) (12.5) (100)Total 14505 357 130 7053 1,129 (1.24)(44.73) (31.62) (11.51) (6.20) (4.69)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly december 22, 200741employment exchanges in the 1960s also seem to have been mar-ginal. Nevertheless in the context of growing pressure from the state government to tilt recruitment policies expressly in the di-rection of “sons of the soil”, from the early 1970s onwards the company relied very sparingly on newspaper advertisements. This brings us to our final point. The overwhelming majority (83 per cent) of the recruitments made via the official employ-ment agencies in our sample occurred during the decade 1969-78 (Table 5). Moreover, since people wanting to register with the employment ex-change in Bangalore or in other parts of Karnata-ka had to furnish proof of residence, it naturally follows that the overwhelming majority of our population selected through the exchanges had either been born in the state or been living here for several years. This detail squares with our ear-lier findings pointing, on the one hand, to a sharp contraction in the flow of migrants arriving from Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the 1970s, and, on the other, to an equally steep hike in the number of employees of local origin in the same period. In other words, a clear cause-effect equation pre-vailed between the mode of recruitment privi-leged by the management and the ethnic composi-tion of the workforce at a specific moment. Job ExperienceFrom an initial examination of our aggregate data, one could quite easily conclude that theITI workforce is a relatively experienced workforce. More than one out of two employees in our sam-ple had worked elsewhere before joining the company(Table6). The duration of these jobs as indicated in the personnel files varied from six months to over five years. Over half these persons had also stayed on for fouryearsormore with the same employer, testifying to a considerable degree of stability. But the above statistics do not reveal the movements from one decade to the next. If the first generation of recruits could boast of the maximum experience with three fourths of our population having been employed earlier, the generation that followed in the 1960s counted the highest proportion of new entrants to the labour market (Table 6). Just one out three people had worked prior to being recruited byITI. Thereafter the situation took an upward turn. In the 1970s, 55 per cent of the cohort had previousjob experience with the figure mounting to 65 per cent in the next decade. While details of previous employment experience are not available in their entirety, our findings show that for the majority of the population this experience was relatively diversified in scope. If roughly one out four people in our sample had been employed as casual labourers in the company, one out of two had held jobs similar to those they occupiedonjoiningITI. The management therefore clearly preferred to hire people who brought to their current employment direct experience in the job they performed and hence were of much greater utility to the company. Given that the majority of those with prior experience were assigned relatively qualified jobs inITI (machine tenders, tool makers, inspectors, etc), this would also tend to prove that their previous employment had required them to dispose some amount of skill.From our data, we also learn that in over three-quarters of the cases, the former employer(s) was situated in Bangalore, stress-ing both the spatially circumscribed character of workers’ experience and the economically strategic position exercised by the capitalcityas a regional node of employment. Even those work-ers not born in Bangalore had for the greater part found work here first before being recruited by ITI. Among the previous employers, the army emerged as a major player with about nine per cent of our sample identifying themselves as ex-servicemen. A handful also came from P&T as well as from big local engineering and textile companies like Hindustan Aeronautics, Kirloskar and Binny’s. Did previous employment experience carry with it the rewards of greater occupational mo-bility? The answer is yes if we comparetheca-reers of these employees with those entering thelabour market for the first time. But the dif-ferentials tended to be more pronounced at the lower and upper reaches of the mobility gradient than at the middle. Nearly 39 per cent of our pop-ulation without any previous experience fell into the very low or low mobility category, 27 per cent enjoyed median mobility, and roughly 34 per cent high or very high mobility. The equivalent figures for employees possessing job experience were respectively 32 per cent, 29 per cent and 39 per cent (Table 7). Entry AgeAn examination of our sample shows that two out of three work-ers were aged no more than 25 years at the time of recruitment (Table 8, p 42). The majority (45 per cent) fell within the age bracket 21 to 25 years. Inversely, the fact that one worker out of three was aged 26 years and above suggests that the company’s endeavours to build a young workforce were not entirely crowned with success. Our data also shows important inter-generational variations. If we consider the successive generations first, the co-hort recruited in the 1960s was by far the youngest with 83 per cent of the sample aged 25 years and below (Table 8). While thecohortrecruited in the 1980s enjoyed the dubious distinction of being the oldest with barely 37 per cent of its members aged 25 years and below, the corresponding figures for the 1950s and 1970s stood respectively at 63 and 65 per cent. The marked divergences in demographic profiles, setting apart the 1960s generation from all the others, can in all probability be traced back to managerial policy decisions advocating the infu-sion of young blood to take up the production of the more modern crossbar exchanges which commenced towards the end of this decade. One might also argue that notwithstanding the infancy Table 6: Job Experience by Entry YearEntry Year Nil Job Total ExperienceExperiencePopulation1948-58 72 209 281 (25.62)(74.37) (100)1959-68 221 102 323 (68.42) (31.57) (100)1969-78 189 244 433 (43.65) (56.35) (100)1979-88 28 5684 (33.33)(66.33)(100)1989-98 0 8 8 (100)(100)Total 510 616 1,129* (45.17)(54.56)(100)*3 unknown cases.Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 7: Job Experience by MobilityMobility Nil Experience Job Experience Very low 25 32 (8.56)(9.11)Low 9079 (30.82) (22.5)Median 78103 (26.71) (29.34)High 70102 (23.97)(29.05)Very high 29 35 (9.93)(9.97)Total 292 351 (100)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEdecember 22, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly42of the company, the slightly higher age levels of the 1950s genera-tion as compared to the 1970s generation bore a relation to the nature of the labour market in the immediate aftermath ofinde-pendence. Because of the dearth of skilled personnel in the engi-neering trades – the first industrial training institutes came up only in the mid-1950s – and because the management had still not devised its own in-house training programmes, workers equipped with many of the skills required by the company were quite likely to have acquired these in the course of previous employment opportunities. Therefore, by the time they joinedITI they must have been relatively old. Occupational DistributionAround 42 per cent of the employees in our sample filled production jobs, 20 per cent auxiliary jobs and the remain-ing 38 per cent were channelled into non-production areas. At the same time, a temporal analysis reveals the growing weight of non-production occupations. A trend already evidenced in the 1970s, an overwhelming majority of the fresh recruits in the 1980s and 1990s were inducted to meet the com-pany’s labour requirements in depart-ments such as data processing, hospi-tal, cleaning, transport and so forth. Since none of these functions could be outsourced, in part because of union resistance, and since surplus pro-duction and auxiliary personnel refused to perform non-production jobs, the management had no option but to take on additional staff even as it simultaneously implemented an early retirement programme. An index of the relative lack of educational and technical qualifica-tions of the ITI workforce, and in turn the low skill levels required by the company, one in five individuals in our sample population was hired aslearn-ers or apprentices in production and auxiliaryareas(Table 9). Almost an equal number worked as labourers, helpers, attenders or packers in the main in non-production departments, while sweepers accounted for another six per cent. In the case of higher skilled production jobs, a little under 13 per cent of our sample were taken on as machine tenders, 8 per cent as toolmakers, and 5 per cent as elec-trical assemblers. The upper echelons of the auxiliary and non-production sectors were staffed by clerks to the extent of 10 per cent, followed by store keepers, production planners, and draughtsmen (9 per cent), and then inspection personnel (8per cent). Pairing data about occupational distribution with the linguisticidentities of our population shows two contrary pheno-mena (Table 10). On the one hand, a bigger proportion of Kannada speakers (24 per cent) were engaged in menial jobs than Tamil (22 per cent) or Malayali speakers (7 per cent), but not Telegu speakers (48 per cent). On the other hand, the better qualified production, auxiliary and non-production jobs contained more Kannadigas, attesting less to their possession of greater amounts of educational capital as to their greater access to technical training, as we shall see later. To give just one exam-ple, 11 per cent of Kannadigas worked as toolmakers as against 7 percentfor Tamilians and Malayalis and 3 per cent for Telegus. Gender CompositionIt is necessary here to underscore the relative incongruity ofITI’s position. The company relied on an essentially masculine labour force to manufac-ture products sexually stereotyped as female work by most of its competi-tors. Although statistics for the previ-ous years is unavailable, in 1976 the company counted barely 687 women, or under four per cent of the total fac-tory strength of 17,929 employees. Of these just over a third worked directly as operatives. By 2000, not only had the overall number of feminine per-sonnel declined to 530, but less than 90 women could be found on the shop floor.5 The gender bias defining the composition of the workforce finds an eloquent echo in our sample. Women employees make up barely three per cent of our population. Their demo-graphic and social characteristics, however, betray few divergences from those of their male counterparts. Of local origin for the most part, over a third of them were borninBangalore, while another third came from the rest of Karnataka. The majority (45 per cent) were also Kannada speak-ers. Can we conclude from these details that no stigma attached to Kannadiga women enrolling for factory jobs, even during the early years of ITI’s existence, thus giving the lie to the opinion, commonly articulated by Kannadiga men in particular, that to start with all the women workers were Tamilians and Anglo-Indians, i e, “outsiders” and of a lower social status, and Table 9: Occupational BreakdownOccupation FrequencyLearner-apprentice 244 (21.61)Labourer, helper, attender, packer 211 (18.69)Sweeper 72(6.38)Machine trades 143 (12.67)Toolmaker 94(8.33)Electrical assembly 59 (5.23)Inspector 89(7.88)Store keeper, planner, D-man 101 (8.95)Clerks 114(10.1)Total 1,129 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages. Table 10: Occupational Distribution by Mother TongueOccupation Unknown Kannada TamilTeleguMalay’m OtherLearner-apprentice 4 77 99 17 31 16 (28.57) (15.25) (27.73)(13.08) (44.2)(30.1)Labourer, helper, 1 107 67 25 5 6 attender, packer (7.14) (21.19) (18.77) (19.23) (7.14) (11.32)Sweeper 2 1714380 1 (14.29) (3.37)(3.92)(29.23) (1.89)Machine trades 0 51 53 21 12 6 (10.1)(14.85)(16.15)(17.14)(11.32)Toolmaker 15627451 (7.14)(11.09)(7.56)(3.08)(7.14)(1.89)Electrical assembly 0 35 13 3 1 7 (6.93)(3.64)(2.31)(1.43)(13.21)Inspector 2 45248 5 5 (14.29)(8.91)(6.72)(6.15)(7.14)(9.43)Store keeper, 4 63 18 5 8 3 planner, D-man (28.57) (12.48) (5.04) (3.85) (11.43) (5.66)Clerk 0 53 419 3 8 (10.5)(11.48) (6.92)(4.29)15.09)Total 14 505 357 130 70 53 (100) (100)(100) (100)(100)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 8: Entry Age by Entry Year 15-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 >41 Total YearsYears YearsYears YearsYears 1948-58 63 115 69 257 2 281 (22.42) (40.93) (24.56) (8.9) (2.49)(0.71)(100)1959-68 130 138 39 10 2 4 323 (40.25) (42.72) (12.07)(3.1) (0.62)(1.24)(100)1969-78 44236 131 201 0 433 (10.16)(54.5)(30.25)(4.62)(0.23)(100)1979-88 8 2337133 0 84 (9.52)(27.38)(44.05)(15.48)(3.57)(100)1989-98 0 2 1 3 2 0 8 (25) (12.5) (37.5) (25) (100)Total 245 514 277 71156 1,129 (21.7)(45.53) (24.53) (6.29)(1.33)(0.53)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly december 22, 200743hence fit to take up industrial work where they had to mingle with men? Why did ITI carry so few women on its rolls, although senior executives admitted that a bigger female contingent would have considerably facilitated the task of enforcing disciplinary con-trols? As in the case of the textile and jute industry, factory legis-lation restricting the hours of work for women seems to have functioned as the principal deterrent to feminising the workforce to a much greater degree [Chandavarkar 1994: 387-88; Fernandes 1997: 52-53; Joshi 1981; Morris 1965: 65-68; Ramaswamy 1983: 25]. In addition, women were also perceived as unreliable and costly on account of their reproductive roles, being frequently ab-sent and taking maternity leave “without any limitations as to the number of times it can be avail of (sic)” during which period the compa-ny had to pay their wages even as it had to find and train replacements.6 Indeed, in order to avoid having to concede maternity benefits at all, com-pany standing orders initially stipulat-ed that only unmarried women and widows “without encumbrances” would be eligible for employment. Bowing to union pressure, the man-agement later expunged this clause. Caste CompositionNot surprisingly, statistics pertaining to the caste identities of employeesis restricted to theSCs andSTs. Even this information was not systemati-cally collected until the mid-1950s with the job application forms carry-ing no mention of this issue. From the early 1990s, classification of employ-ees belonging to the otherbackward castes also became obligatory.SC and ST employees are slightly over repre-sented in our sample comprising just under 22 per cent of the population. Theirstrength in the factory propor-tionate to the total workforce started exceeding 20 per cent only from the early 1980s onwards when recruitment had decreased. In 1988, for instance, the ratio of SC-STs to caste Hindus stood at 1:4. The geographic origins of our SC population shows no diver-gence from the other sections of the workforce. While nearly three out of fourSC-STs mentioned Karnataka as their birthplace, over 40 per cent came from Bangalore. Of those originating from outside the state, the overwhelming majority belonged to Andhra Pradesh. But contrary to the dominant trend, Tamil speakers (42 per cent) constituted by far the single biggest linguistic grouping, followed by Kannadigas (31 per cent), and then Telegus (26 per cent). The prominence of TamilSCs in our sample reflects in all likelihood the heritage of the colonial period when Adi-Dravidas from the former Madras Presidency, attracted by the employment opportunities, flocked to Bangalore and the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) mines [Simmons 1990: 82; Nair 1998: 25]. Of the 49 em-ployees in our sample born inKGF, no doubt, in mining families, 23 were TamilSC-STs. The group with the lowest levels of educational and technical qualification, as we shall see later,SC-ST persons predictably enough were heavily over represented in the bottom most strata of the occupational hierarchy – a conclusion also arrived at by all the sociological surveys conducted in the past on industrial workers. While 72 per cent of caste Hindus were recruited in categories seven and six, the equivalent figure for SC-STs stood at close to 88 per cent. The inferior statusofthejobsperformedby them is thrown into full relief when we examine the occupations they filled in our sample. Not only were most of the sweepersSC-STs, and of Adi Andhraorigin,thelowest community in the caste hierarchy in Karnataka, but one out of five SC-STs worked as a sweeper (Table 11). Another 30 per cent provided porta-ble muscle power on the shop floor and in the shipping department, or execut-ed menial jobs in non-production areas like the canteen and hospital. Though they accounted for under 4 per cent of the total in auxiliary occupations such as production planning, store keeping, and draughtsmanship, in in-spection and white collar clerical jobs,where a college degree was often mandatory, the share of theSCs was more or less comparable with that of the caste Hindus. This suggests that they might have successfully exploit-ed reservation quotas in the field of higher education. Father’s OccupationSince the company did not make the provision of this information obligato-ry, data relating to the professional background of employees’ fathers is only available for 43 per cent of our population. Nevertheless, our findings clearly demonstrate the force of reproductive strategies since the largest group of employ-ees (17 per cent) came from families where the father was alsoa worker in the industrial or service sector.Incomparison,lessthan 10 per cent of our sample cited agriculture as their father’s occu-pation (Table 12). Employees from worker families are on the whole, however, dis-advantaged, being less well educated than all their other counter-parts, no doubt because they lacked sufficient financial resources (Table 12). Barely 9 per cent of second-generation workers in our sample, for instance, had gone to college as compared to almost 25 per cent of employees whose fathers held jobs inthe govern-ment or 16 per cent of employees from farming households. Table 11: Occupations by CasteOccupation SC-STNon-SC-STLearner-apprentice 216 (24.43) 28 (11.43)Labourer, helper, attender, packer 139 (15.72) 72 (29.39)Sweeper 20 (2.26) 52 (21.22)Machine trades 117 (13.24) 26 (10.61)Toolmaker 78 (8.82) 16 (6.53)Electrical assembly 56 (6.33) 3 (1.22)Inspector 72 (8.14) 17 (6.94)Storekeeper, planner, D-man 92 (10.41) 9 (3.67)Clerk 92 (10.41) 22 (8.98)Total 245 (100) 884 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 12: Father’s Occupation by Son’s Educational and Technical Qualifications and Mobility Father’s Occupation Frequency Son’s Son’s Son’s Son’s EducationalTechnicalMobilityMobility Qualification*Qualifi-(VeryLow-(High- cation**Low)VeryHigh)Unknown 640nananana (56.69) Agriculture 10617271915 (9.39)(16.04) (25.47) (8.04)(6.35)Worker 19318223712 (17.09)(9.33)(11.4)(16.37)(5.08)Government 44117 5 9 (3.9) (25) (15.91) (2.21)(3.81)Education 318 6 5 5 (2.75)(25.8)(19.35)(2.21)(2.11)Business-artisan 49 9 9 5 13 (4.34)(18.36)(18.37)(2.21)(5.50)Other 669 11119 (5.85)(13.64)(16.67)(4.86)(3.81)Total 1129nananana (100) * College education. ** Trade certificate.Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEdecember 22, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly44Similarly, whereas one out of four employees with agrarian roots had acquired an industrial trade certificate, and nearly 16 per cent of those whose fathers worked in government, the equivalent figure for second generation workers arrived at 11 per cent. Not surprisingly therefore, they found themselvesassigned to dead-end and degrading menial oc-cupations with far greater frequency. The situation is no brighter when it comes to occupational mobility. Not only did employees from wage earn-ing families experience very low or low mobility to a greater extent, they were also less successful in reaping the benefits of frequent promotions rela-tive to the other groups (Table 12).Educational QualificationsA cross sectional snapshot of the edu-cational levels of our population presents a picture of a relatively un-qualified workforce. Barely 10 per cent of our sample had gone to college and while over a third had passedSSLC, close to 30 per cent had not passed the school leaving exam. In addition, 23 per cent either possessed no formal education or had only studied up to primary school (Table 13). Adopting a temporal dimension also does not sub-stantially modify the above image, and belies any simplistic assumptions of an unilinear progression in educational standardsfromone generation of work-ers to the next, paralleling the introduc-tion of more sophisticated technologi-cal systems by the company. True, the proportion of employees in our sample without any education posted a dramatic decline, falling from over30percent in the 1950s to under 5 per cent three decades later.Nevertheless, 12 per cent of those recruited in the 1970s still lacked qualifications of any sort. Employees with no more than a primary education certificate also became a rarity by the 1980s. Likewise, the proportion of employees appointed having a PUC degree climbed more than fourfold between the 1950s and 1970s. Still, quite surprisingly, the cohort hired in the 1970s turned out to be less qualified than the onethatimmediately precededit(Table 13). Offsetting this decline, a distinct improve-ment in the levels of technical qualifications can beobserved. The management had apparently arrived at the conclusion that as long as employees had studied up toorpassedSSLC, the threshold fixed for production operatives, andpossessedanin-dustrial trade certificate, higher skills were in no way essential to operate the technologies introduced by the company.From which linguistic groups did the poorest and best educated sections of our sample come from? Our Telegu speaking population holds the lowest credentials. Given the high literacy rates prevailing in Kerala, high school education was also more widespread among Malayalam (90 per cent) and Tamil (73 per cent) speaking employees than among Kannadigas (66 per cent). But this last group contained a much higher proportion of college graduates (16 per cent) than any of the other linguistic communities. What this implies is that compared with the other groups, more Kannada speakers came from relatively better off house-holds which could afford to invest in college education. Matching data concerning educa-tional levels with caste identities pro-duces more or less the expected con-clusions (Table 14). One out of three SC-ST persons was uneducated as against under 12 per cent for caste Hindus, and if a larger proportion of SC-STs had studied up to SSLC, the proportion of caste Hindus who had graduated from high school (42 per cent) was more than double the figure for SC-STs (18 per cent). But when it came to college education, the dispari-ties between the two groups was slightly less pronounced, suggesting that SC-STs had been able to benefit somewhat from reservations. Technical QualificationsYet another indication of the ITI work-force’s relative lack of qualifications, two out three people in our population had no technical training. Behind this broad brush picture, a gradual im-provement in standards from one gen-eration to the next, though, can be de-tected, paralleling the spread of public and privately-funded vocational education institutions through-out the country. While barely 20 per cent of the cohort recruited in the 1950s and 1960s had some sort of technical qualification, the figure climbed to 50 per cent in the following decade before descending to 40 per cent in the 1980s (Table 15). Technical education was most widespread in our sample among the Kannada speakers. They accounted for more than half the total of trained employees with Tamil speakers making up another quarter. In contrast, barely 7 per cent of Malayali speak-ers were equipped with vocational skills, although this group counted the maximum number of high school educated employ-ees. This tends to corroborate our earlier remarks suggesting that sections of Kannadiga employees belongedtofamilieswhich commanded greater financial resources thantheotherlinguistic communities to be able to sustain their offspring throughout the duration of the training period which insomecasescould extend to four years. Table 13: Educational Qualifications by Entry YearEntry Year No Primary Up to SSLC SSLC PUC Degree Total Education1948-58 882162 918 11281 (31.32) (7.47)(22.06) (32.38) (2.85) (3.91)(100)1959-68 39 11108 139 251 323 (12.07)(3.41)(33.44)(43.03)(7.74)(0.31)(100)1969-78 5434135 158 3715433 (12.47) (7.85) (31.18) (36.49) (8.55) (3.46) (100)1979-88 4 3 3128 135 84 (4.76) (3.57)(36.9)(33.33) (15.48) (5.95) (100)1989-98 1 1 1 0 4 1 8 (12.5) (12.5) (12.5) (50)(12.5)(100)Total 186 70337 416 87 331129 (16.47) (6.2) (29.85) (36.85) (7.71)(2.92)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 14: Educational Qualifications by CasteEduc Qualif Non -SC-ST SC-STNo education 104 (11.78) 81 (33.06)Primary 56 (6.34) 14 (5.71)Up to SSLC 249 (28.2) 88 (35.92)SSLC 372 (42.13) 44 (17.96)PUC 74 (8.38) 13 (5.31)Degree> 28 (3.17) 5 (2.04)Total 883 (100) 245 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 15: Technical Qualifications by Entry Year NilQualifi-TradeApprenticeDiplomaTypingOtherTotal cationCertificate1948-58 222 6 2 152113279 (79.57)(2.15)(0.72)(5.38)(7.53)(4.66)100 1959-68 267 22 2 15116 323 (82.66)(6.81)(0.62)(4.64)(3.41)(1.86)100 1969-78 217 127 42191117433 (50.12) (29.33) (9.7) (4.39)(2.54) (3.93)100 1979-88 52 5 172 5 3 84 (61.9)(5.95)(20.24) (2.38) (5.95)(3.57)100 1989-98 4 0 2 0 2 0 8 (50)(25) (25) 100 Total 762 160 65 515039 1129 (67.61)(14.2)(5.77)(4.53)(4.44)(3.46)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly december 22, 200745Disadvantaged with respect to general education, the SCs and STs received an equally raw deal when it came to technical training(Table 16). Of all those in our sample who possessed a specialisation, 85 per cent were caste Hindus and barely 15 per centSCs and STs. Expressed in overall terms, more than one out of three caste Hindus were equipped with vocational skills as opposed to one out of five SC-STs. Occupational MobilityThe cut off date for our data on occupa-tional mobility is 1979, the year the ITI management introduced an automatic seniority-based promotion scheme fol-lowing a long period of intermittent labour contestation. Our findings there-fore only treat those individuals in our sample – close to 57 per cent – who were promoted, or not promoted, dur-ing the first three decades of the com-pany’s existence when career advance-ment reposed less on a complex of strictly codified, mutually determined procedures than on the unrestricted discretion and capricious fancies of supervisory personnel and managers. Our consolidated data delineates a contrasting picture. Even as it dis-proves the idea of industrial occupa-tions equalling stagnating careers, especially in the case of an under-qualified workforce, neither does the management’s assertions defending thefairness of its promotion polices stand up to the evidence. Ifalittle more than one out of three members of our sample experienced very low or low mobility, in other words either zero promotions in 10 years or just one promotion, close to 30 per cent fell into the median group which received two promo-tions over a period of 10-15 years. More significantly, roughly 37 per cent of the employees enjoyed the dividends of high or very high mobility, being promoted on three or more occasions withinaspanof15years. So employment in a large public sector company likeITI just as it offered avenues for improving their social status and economic positions to some denied to others these very same opportunities. Which categories and communities of employees lost out and which ended up on top? First, and predictably enough, mobility levels were much higher among employees recruited during the early decades when the plant was still in its expansionary or “youthful” phase than among those who entered in the 1970s, the mature phase when low turnover rates and limited increases in production capacity meshed to severely constrict the scope for upward movement. Indeed, from one period to the next a corresponding decline in career progression is clearly perceptible: if we consider our entire mobility sample, 46 per cent of those appointed in the decade 1948-59 could boast of high to very high mobility, with the figure falling to 36 per cent in the following decade, and even lower to 14 per cent in the decade 1969-78 (Table 17). Second, of the different linguistic communities, Malayali speaking employees obtained optimal results (Table 18). The group with the maximum number of SSLC graduates, a corollary of this achievement was that it featured both the highest proportion of employees who received frequent promotions (43 per cent) and the lowest proportion with minimal promotions (25 per cent). While the Kannada speaking cohort could claim an identical pro-portion of employees at the upper reaches of the mobility gradient, it also counted a much larger number at the bottom end (30 per cent). At the same time, the Telegu speak-ing cohort, the group with the weakest educational credentials, contained a slightly smaller proportion of low mobility workers (40 per cent) than Tamil speakers (41 per cent). This tes-tifies to the absence of an a priori cor-respondence between educational capital and promotion prospects. But a glance at the top end of the mobility spectrum also shows that education was not entirely irrelevant: 32 per cent of Tamils obtained quick promotions as against 27 per cent of Telegus. Pos-sessingtechnical training also guar-anteed the majority of its beneficiar-ies fast track promotions. Still, the fact that more trade certificate hold-ers and apprentices experienced low mobility as opposed to em-ployees without technical credentials again brings out to some extent the arbitrary nature of the company’s promotion procedures. Finally, in line with all our earlier findings, our mobility data as well highlights the discrimination faced bySC employees. One out of three caste Hindus in our sample got zero or just one pro-motion in a span of 10 years (Table 19). In the case ofSC-STs, this figure totalled 45 percent.Of course, at the upper end of the mobility scales official policies com-pelling public sector managements to favour theSC-STs in promotions had yielded some dividends. Nevertheless, fairly wide differentials continued to be visible. Only a quarter of our SC-ST popu-lation enjoyed the fruits of high or very high mobility as against 39 per cent of caste Hindus.Table 16: Technical Qualifications by Caste Non-SC-STSC-STTrade certificate 125 (34.25) 35 (9.59)Apprentice 60 (19.23) 5 (9.43)Diploma 48 (15.38) 3 (5.66)Typing 44 (14.1) 6 (11.32)Other 35 (11.22) 4 (7.55)Total 312 (100) 53 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 17: Job Mobility by Entry YearMobility 1948-581959-681969-781979-88TotalVery low 16 24 17 0 57 (28.07) (42.11) (29.82) 100 Low 4748686 169 (27.81)(28.4)(40.24) (3.55)100 Median 77 77 24 3181 (42.54)(42.54)(13.26)(1.66)100 High 8660188172 (50)(34.88) (10.47) (4.65)100 Very high 36 28 0 0 64 (56.25) (43.75) 100 Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 18: Mobility by Mother Tongue UnknownKannadaTamilTeleguMalayalamOtherVery low 2 16 20 14 2 3 (18.18)(6.64)(8.51)(17.5)(4.55)(9.38)Low 0 57 78 189 7 (23.65) (33.19) (22.5) (20.45) (21.88)Median 66461261410 (54.55) (26.56) (25.96) (32.5) (31.82) (31.25)High 2814920128 (18.18)(33.61) (20.85)(25)(27.27)(25)Very high 1 23 27 2 7 4 (9.09)(9.54) (11.49) (2.5) (15.91) (12.5)Total 11241 235 804432 (100) (100) (100)(100) (100)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 19: Mobility by CasteMobility Non-SC-STSC-STVery low 39 17 (7.39)(14.91)Low 134 35 (25.38)(30.7)Median 14932 (28.22)(28.07)High 14626 (27.65)(22.81)Very high 60 4 (11.36)(3.51)Total 528 114 (100)(100)Figures in brackets are percentages.
SPECIAL ARTICLEdecember 22, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly46Exit DateClose to 44 per cent of our sample population still remained on the company rolls in 1999, the cut-off point chosen by us for our sur-vey. The single most important cause of attrition was retirement with 29 per cent of our population leaving on this ground (Table 20). Then came resignations (16 per cent), death (12 per cent), voluntary retirement (11 per cent), and dismissals (9 per cent). Most of those who quit voluntarily did so during the 1950s and 1960s when the labour market still retained a degree of elas-ticity. If in some instances workers cited domestic obligations as the reason for resigning, and a handful went abroad (mainly to the Gulf countries), 16 per cent quit ITI to join other public sector companies. The fact that under 2 per cent of all dismissals re-corded in our sample intervened after 1970 tends to corroborate archival evidence pointing to a slacken-ing in disciplinary enforcement during this period (Table 21). But the management also found itself in-creasingly restrained from inflicting extreme forms of punishment like dismissal both by the actions of the union and the judiciary. Sacking workers de-clared to be medically unfit met with strong resist-ance from the union. Likewise, the courts began sys-tematically overturning the management decisions dismissing individuals on grounds such as theft, chronic absenteeism, fraud and so on, arguing that the punishment was disproportionate to the offence committed. Employees who quit the company after taking vol-untary retirement are over represented in our find-ings with respect to the 1980s and grossly under represented for the 1990s (Table 21). A voluntaryretirementprogrammede-signed to reduce labour costs in the aftermath of deregulation wasnotintroducedbeforetheend of the 1980s. Hence the full effects of this measure were felt only in the subsequent decade when a little over 5,000 non-officers and officers availed of it.The findings pertaining to the length of service reserves few surprises. Turnover rates are extremely low as most employees demonstrated their loyalty to the company by remaining on the rolls until retirement or death. Workers were clearly not interested in exiting what bordered on a “paradise”: a company which in addition to providing significant material advantages, but without insisting on a reciprocal expenditure of effort, of-fered them virtual lifetime tenure coupled with the prestige associated with working for a government firm.Thus, if two out of three members of our population who quit the company had put in a service of 20 years or more, close to one out of two could boast of a presence in ex-cess of 30 years (Table 22).Incompar-ison, less than 4 per cent left before one year, while another 5 per cent of depar-tures involved those who had worked between one and five years, and a slightly higher proportion (7.5 per cent) between five and 10 years. Hence, it would be safe to state that the company overall disposed of an extremely stable workforce and that its operations did not suffer inanywayfrom problems of high levels of turnover. In ConclusionA defining feature of the structural composition of the ITI work-force is its strong local and urban texture. If anything the numeri-cal strength of employees recruited either from Bangalore itself or from within Karnataka increased rather than decreased over time for political and other reasons. This clearly demonstrated their success in controlling access to the most prized industrial occupa-tions on the labour market. Second, and following from the above, not only did employees originating from outside the state re-main distinctly in the minority with the possible ex-ception of the 1960s where even then they only ac-counted for a third of our total sample workforce. Practically all of them also belonged to the three neighbouring southern states (Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). Interstate migration in search of em-ployment opportunities was thus entirely short dis-tance in character which in turn signified that un-like an economic dynamo like Bombay, or perhaps even Delhi, the “pull” exercised by Bangalore did not exceed a macro-regional perimeter. Third, the results of our study contradict popular representations stereotyping local Kannadigas as rooted to the countryside and incapable of enduring the hardships and disciplinary constraints imposed by the factory regime. Instead, Kannada speaking employees formed the largest linguistic community in all but one decade, a signal testimony to the fact that they were no less en-thusiastic than any other group in seizing valued opportunities for economic and social advancement that a permanent job in the newly created public sector enterprises offered them. They were also the best educated group, boasting the highest proportion of college graduates, the technically most qualified group, the best placed group in the occupational hierarchy, and, if house owner-ship is an index of wealth, the most affluent group. In other words, more than any other section of the workforce, it was the local Kannadigas who exemplified a labour aristocracy. Fourth, our findings confirm the position of SC-ST employees as the most disadvantaged group in the factory on all counts. The incidence of indebtedness, for example, was highest among them. They carried over intact into the realm of work all the enduring deprivations and disabilities afflicting them in the broader soci-etal context. Even though a perma-nent place within the ranks of organ-ised labour in the public sector citadel represented a non-negligible achieve-ment, and by itself stood out as an in-dex of upward mobility, their condi-tion inside the factory hardly differed from their condition outside, especial-ly in terms of their stigmatisation as “outcastes” by caste Hindu employees, Table 20: Departure Reasons FrequencyUnknown 144(22.67)Retirement 185(29.13)Resignation 105 (16.53)VRS 70(11.02)Death 74(11.65)Dismissal 57(8.96)Total 635 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 22: Employment TenureTenure Frequencyunknown 44(6.9)<1yr 22(3.45)1-5yrs 34(5.33)5-10yrs 48(7.53)10-15yrs 33(5.18)15-20yrs 31(4.86)20-25yrs 43 (6 .75)25-30yrs 84(13.18)>30yrs 298(46.78)Total 635 (100)Figures in brackets are percentages.Table 21: Exit Date by Reasons for Exit RetireResignVRSDeathDismissalTotal1950-59 1 53 0 4 26 84 (1.19)(63.1)(4.76) (30.95) (100)1960-69 2535 020 28108 (23.15) (32.41) (18.52)(25.92) (100)1970-79 114 16 0 38 3 171 (66.67) (9.36) (22.22) (1.75) (100)1980-89 45 0 69 12 0 126 (35.71) (54.76) (9.52)100 1990-99 0 0 1 0 0 1 (100)100 Figures in brackets are percentages.
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