The work of a clerk, a teacher, a professor, a lawyer, a doctor does not require much physical labour. On the contrary, the work of a cultivator, a miner, an artisan requires physical labour. When we say that the work of the cultivators, miners, artisans etc. is as respected as the work of the clerk, the teacher, the lawyer and the doctor, we mean there is dignity of labour.
There are two kinds of labour-manual and intellectual. Each of them has dignity of its own and none is inferior to the other.
There is a great importance of manual labour in human life. We grow crops, build houses and factories, construct roads and streets etc. by manual labour. Manual labour is also necessary in the fields, mines, mills and ships. If the sweepers, the porters, the carpenters, masons, the blacksmiths and the peasants did not perform their duties, the whole of mankind could not have enjoyed the present result of civilization. It gives us good physical exercise and so keeps our body fit and strong. It helps the continuation of our existence in this world. We cannot live without food, drink, clothes and houses: But these are gifts of manual labour. So manual labour is more essential than the intellectual.
In our country, people usually do not respect manual labour. They think that manual labour lowers down their position in society. So they hate manual labour. A man with a little bit of education does not even wash his own clothes because of his vanity.
But this picture is quite different in the developed countries of the world. For instance, Tolstoy came of a very rich family. He himself did manual work like other peasants. Great men of the world believe that manual labour can never lower down the prestige of a man.
At present the outlook of our countrymen has not yet completely changed. But we should understand that manual labour makes a man great and dignified. An ordinary labourer without education is better than an educated idle man. So, we should feel that there is dignity of labour in every sphere of life.