Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Essay, Paragraph, Speech on “The Dignity of Labour” Long, Short Essay for School, College Students, essay for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams

Essay, Paragraph, Speech on “The Dignity of Labour” Long, Short Essay for School, College Students, essay for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams

The Dignity of Labour

Essay No. 01

By “labour” we generally mean manual work ; that is, work done with the hands, as distinguished from mental work, or work done with the head. In ancient times manual labour was looked down upon, and the manual worker was treated as an inferior being. Most ancient states were based upon slave-labour. Even the Greek city-states consisted of a small number of free citizens, who devoted themselves to the higher arts and professions, and left all manual labour to slaves. And yet it was ancient Greece that taught the world the lessons of political liberty and self-government ! In modern times slavery has been abolished by all civilized countries ; yet a hundred years ago slavery still existed as a recognized institution.

Manual labour is recognized to-day, at least in theory, as being worthy of free citizens ; and no stigma attaches to a man because he works with his hands rather than with his head. And yet the leisured classes still look down upon the working classes, whom they call the “lower” classes. And many a young man of the middle class would rather wear a black coat and sit on an office stool at a paltry salary, than soil his hands and earn double the money as an artisan. This contempt of manual labour is absurd and wrong, and the distinction between manual and mental work is misleading. All manual work, even so-called unskilled labour, requires some thought ; and the skilled work of the engineer, the carpenter, the builder and the potter is really as much mental as manual. It takes more intelligence to be an expert electrician, or even a mistri, than to be an office clerk copying letters all day.

But what we have still to learn is that honest work of all kinds is dignified and worthy of respect. In India, even the humble “sweeper”, who does unpleasant but absolutely necessary work, ought to be respected, instead of being regarded with contempt and thrust down into the lowest caste. The only things we should be ashamed of are idleness, and trying to live “by one’s wits” without labour. “Work is worship”, and “to work is to pray.” We take off our hats to honest toil, and honour the honest workman.

 “His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns whate’er he can ;

And looks the whole world in the face,

For he owes not any man.”


Essay No. 02


Dignity of Labour

Nature gives us everything we need, but not in usable forms. With our various activities like agriculture, trade, industry and learning, we transform the gifts of Nature into products useful to us. As a common feature of all these activities, labour in one form or another, is an important factor that makes such transformation possible. It is, in fact, the key to our very existence. The variety in labour matches the variety in our needs. Therefore, each form of labour is important to us in its own way.

While some among us work the iron ore in Nature to make steel, which builds our industries, some others generate power from water, coal or oil, to run them. If another group tills the land to raise crops, yet another transforms them into vital food. It is such distribution of labour among ourselves that helps us survive. We cannot imagine what our lives would be like, if we were unwilling to work or unprepared to engage in different occupations.

Though originally all occupations that were necessary and useful to humanity were encouraged and respected, with time, some prejudices developed against certain occupations. Those occupations that were relatively unimportant or unpleasant and those that involved more physical effort than the others were discriminated against. This tendency, along with the practice of deciding the social status of people, on the basis of their occupations, created unrest in society, thus, before long, the concept of distribution of labour, so essential for the health of society, ended up as its main bane. The unfortunate consequences of the distribution of labour and the deep rooted prejudices against certain occupations were the main causes of casteism and untouchability, which have been plaguing our society. Through the efforts of many philanthropists and social reformers, who upheld the dignity of labour and restored the respect for occupations, much of the prejudices have been eliminated. However, much more needs to be done before we can realize the ideals of egalitarianism and social amity.

Modern education, which helped change the outlook of people, was another factor that revived the dignity of labour. Perhaps, Mahatma Gandhi’s life is a typical example of the contribution of modern education in revolutionizing community living. Though Gandhiji was born in a traditional, orthodox Hindu family, and had a career as a successful lawyer, the exposure he had to the outside world, built in him a respect for all types of occupations. Gandhiji’s example is all the more important, because, unlike most others, he practiced the virtues of labour that he preached. It was his practice of cleaning his toilet, which was normally the job of scavengers, that ensured a sense of dignity for that job. He willingly did menial jobs on the farm, and while in jail, learnt to cobble shoes. He virtually glamorized the occupation of spinning to the extent, that people of all classes and castes adopted the practice in their lives. Gandhiji’s identical respect for all occupations and his willingness to do or learn all manner of work, helped him establish self-sustaining communities in India and South Africa. Till this day, the members of these communities honour the dignity of labour and do all their work themselves, with no dependence of any kind on others.

Thus, respect for labour, and ensuring its dignity, give us a sense of independence. Dignity of labour, if nourished in all the members of a community, will help foster healthy relationships among them, thereby contributing to the strength of the community.


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