Skip to main content

All for one, one for all? (hindu )

If not designed right, well-meaning policies do not necessarily change lives

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results,” said legendary American economist Milton Friedman in a television interview in 1975. Friedman was pointing out to the precious fact that policies that look fair and just at first sight often end up hurting the very people they were supposed to help.

Today, his words of wisdom can help Kerala in dealing with its discontented nurses. Nurses in the southern State called off their indefinite strike recently after the State government agreed to their demand for a minimum wage of at least ₹20,000 per month.

Supporters of the higher minimum wage promised by the government believe that nurse wages are presently set too low by private hospitals arbitrarily. So, they say, it is justified that the government intervenes to protect the rights of nurses. As much as the argument of these do-gooders sounds convincing, the higher minimum wage will not benefit the nurses. If properly implemented, a higher minimum wage can indeed force private hospitals to pay higher wages for nurses. But it will do little to prevent hospitals from reducing the number of nurses that they employ, or take other steps to adjust to the reality of higher nurse wages. This is because, contrary to what many believe, wages are not determined arbitrarily by private hospitals.

Availability of labour

Instead, nurse wages simply reflect the relative scarcity of labour, a fact that hospitals need to take into account when they decide to employ nurses. So, a relatively large supply of nurses causes their wages to drop and allows hospitals to employ more nurses. Conversely, when the supply of nurses is relatively small, it results in higher wages that push hospitals to employ fewer nurses. A minimum wage set by the government, in other words, will do very little to change the underlying reality of the supply of nurses in India far outstripping demand — which explains their low wages. Instead, as mentioned, the minimum wage will only prevent hospitals from fully absorbing the available supply of nurses — except in very rare, unrealistic cases. The newly proposed minimum wage of ₹20,000, in fact, is far above the prevailing market rate for nurses. So it is only a matter of time before hospitals retrench their nursing staff, lower their working hours, or, if possible, automate their roles.

If the nurse unions resist such cost-saving measures by hospitals, hospitals will look to accommodate them under political pressure. This can, of course, prop up the wages of nurses belonging to unions by artificially restricting the supply of nursing services. But it won’t come without any cost. Non-unionised nurses willing to work for cheaper wages will be stopped from competing against the unions, and instead forced to look for other jobs that pay lower. So, while the minimum wage looks like a tool to empower all nurses, in reality, it works against the interests of the weaker ones who lack political voice.


Popular posts from this blog

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

New passport application rules add options for single parents, sadhus(Livemint)

Sadhus/sanyasis (Hindu ascetics) can apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru in lieu of their biological parents.
 New Delhi: Acknowledging a changing social milieu and its reflection in paperwork, the ministry of external affairs on Friday unveiled a series of changes in the passport application process.

The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of only one parent as opposed to both in order to enable those with single parents to apply for passports.

This comes on the heel of reports over the past two years of passport offices insisting on the father’s name in the form even if the mother is a single parent.

“A three-member committee comprising of officials of the ministry of external affairs and the ministry of women and child development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications. These pertain to single parents, parents with adopted children and instances where they did not want the in…