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The National Labour Institute, as the V. V. Giri National Labour Institute was known until 1995, was first conceived in 1962. The need for an autonomous institute to undertake and coordinate research in the field of labour was a prominent part of the development agenda of the country and the Institute got established in the year 1974 as an autonomous body of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India.

The Institute was renamed in 1995 in honour of Shri V.V. Giri, former President of India, renowned trade union leader and doyen of labour studies in the country. Over the years, the Institute has emerged as a premier institution in the country involved with research, training, publication and consultancy on labour and labour related issues.