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LEGACY OF DATTA ISWALKER: MILL WORKER’S LEADER

Author: Vaibhav Goyal, IV year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons) University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University (SSGRC, Hsp.), Chandigarh.


You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

-Bob Marley


Veteran trade unionist Datta Iswalkar, a fair, benevolent hero of mill worker’s rights and founder leader of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti, died on April 07, 2021. As in life, so in death he stayed a plebeian. 72-year-old Iswalkar had been ailing for the past three to four years. He endured a brain hemorrhage Wednesday morning and was directed to JJ Hospital where he capitulated at 5:30 PM. He was 72 and survived by his better half, child Haresh and three daughters.


Datta Iswalkar's father was a worker at the Modern Mill in Mumbai. In 1970, at 23 years old, Datta Iswalkar began working in a Modern Mill as a peon when the cotton factories of the past Bombay murmur with business and success and went on to be a torchbearer of the trigger after his namesake, Datta Samant. They had the facility of lodging, lived on or close to their work environments, and usually, their children were not ensured positions or jobs in the same factories. It was a running joke that young ladies needed to marry young men who were from the same factories or adjoining ones, so the string of their lives remains strong and unchanged.


Datta Iswalkar, who was firmly connected with the Rashtra Seva Dal and different associations in the communist development, had chosen for the battle for mill laborers after 1987. He was the Vice President of Sane Guruji National Memorial Trust in Raigad. The eventual fate of almost over two lakh mill laborers and their families was unsecured after their senior work pioneer Datta Samant went on a gigantic strike in 1982. Iswalkar knew that numerous ideological groups were associated with the departure of mill laborers.


At the point when the cotton mill industry disappeared, all that was left were the vacant masses of the mill structures, their unmistakable stacks, the worker’s chawls, and, most valued, the numerous hectares that they involved of amazing property in focal Mumbai. The workers—the pillars of the foundations of factories—were unexpectedly seen as parasites. Mill proprietors, restless to adapt their property, needed the workers to leave.


After the shutdown of ten mills like Swan Mill, Modern, Raghuvanshi, Kamala, Mukesh, Srinivas, Bradbury, there was no caretaker left for the mill laborers. In a particularly troublesome time, on October 2, 1989, Datta Iswalkar and his partners framed the Closed Mill Workers Struggle Committee. Datta Iswalkar was the convener of that advisory group. From that point, they began the battle.


This is when Iswalkar made his mark. On Gandhi Jayanti 1989 he established the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti of which he remained president till the end. From 1988 to 1990 he and his associates were answerable for the restoration of 10 old factories. Iswalkar was a remarkable man. He was a worker's organization chief, a textile laborer's child, and a textile representative himself. He was a dedicated dissident, yet a visionary with the ability to understand his vision. He had the mental fortitude and modesty to unite individuals, to put them together. He arranged and battled to win.


During the 1982 textile strike driven by the redoubtable worker's guild chief, Datta Samant, Iswalkar. The strike fizzled out and striking mill workers like him had to go back to work without achieving anything except the destruction of their ability to organize and fight for their rights. Indeed, even with more than 35 criminal cases against him and different activists, Iswalkar and the Mill laborers consistently kept the entryway open for trade — with mill proprietors, the public banks, or government offices.


At the point when 10 mills, including Modern Mills, were closed after the strike, Iswalkar united the workers to begin Bandh Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti. After an extraordinary tumult, the mills opened, and laborers got their long past due wages and advantages.


Iswalkar worked hard to get the children of the mill workers jobs in these establishments and in this process took on what became his calling. He contemplated that, assuming the mill lands were to be sold, those that had brought the factories thriving ought to profit. He petitioned the government in court and is credited with homes for at least 15,000 mill laborers.


In mainstream society, workers appear as lumpen components who talk forcefully and utilize obscene language; however, Datta Iswalkar was the reverse of that. He was an exceptionally calm and decent individual. Instead, he would study the reasons for this aggressiveness among the workers with much sensitivity. In 2014 of everyone at the Global Symposium of Main Inges. He depicted this conduct of laborers delightfully that left the crowd dazed.


With his demise, the labor movement by and large and mill laborers specifically has lost an extraordinary pioneer; one who lived and worked day and night with full-hearted dedication for the textile workers of Mumbai and for their entitlement to live and work in the city of Mumbai.