The promulgation of Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESI Act), by the Parliament was the first major legislation on the social security for workers in independent India. It was a time when the industries and the country were heavily reliant on a variety of imported goods from the developed or readily developing countries. The deployment of manpower in the manufacturing processes was limited to a few selected industries such as textile, jute, chemicals etc. The legislation on creation & development of a full proof multi-dimensional Social Security system, when the country’s economy was in a very fledgeling state. This was obviously quite a remarkable gesture towards the socio-economic amelioration of a workforce though limited in number and geographic distribution. India, notwithstanding, thus, took the lead in providing organised social protection to the working class through statutory provisions.
The ESI Act 1948, incorporates certain health-related eventualities that the workers are generally exposed to; such as – maternity, sickness, temporary/permanent disablement, Occupational disease/death due to employment injury, resulting in loss of wages / earning capacity – total or partial.
Social security provisions made in the Act to compensate or negate the resulting physical / financial distress in such contingencies are thus, aimed at upholding human dignity in times of emergency through protection from destitution, deprivation and social debasement while enabling the society the retention and continuity of socially useful and prolific manpower.
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