Unity and Diversity
Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman
Chapter 9: Human resource management in India
This chapter describes the historical evolution of Human Resource Management (HRM) in India. It has been a slow progression beginning a century ago with a movement by social reformers and labor activists to end exploitation of workers and limit arbitrary actions of employers. The government responded in steps and enacted statutes to regulate working conditions and treatment of labor in industry. Government interventions and labor unrest led some companies to appoint industrial welfare officers prior to World War II. After World War II and national independence, the new government of India adopted a socialist-oriented development model which led to enactment of a large number of statutes to protect the interests of workers. As legal regulation increased, companies expanded their employee management activities in the fifties and the sixties, although most were still oriented to welfare and union/labor relations. The terms “personnel” and “industrial relations” emerged as the names for these activities. The traditions of personnel and industrial relations persisted in the large public sector of the Indian economy for most of the twentieth century; indeed, their legacy is still found today. Greater change came to the private sector. Starting in the seventies, some large companies began to implement employee development activities, though frequently with a paternalistic and informal orientation. Also, the personnel function was gradually expanded and put on a more formalized basis in a large number of companies.
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