Saturday, February 20, 2016

Poverty doesn't follow Castes-2

Poverty doesn't follow Castes-2

Before launching non violent freedom movement, Gandhi traveled the Country for a year. He saw the poverty of the people and their dependency on rain for agriculture. Except the agriculture season of 60-90 days, people had no work to perform during the rest of the year. He initiated freedom struggle with the "Charkha Andolan". Spinning cotton thread on Charkha (spinning wheel) and weaving cloth made in self vibrated the mass of India. The cotton thread and music of the spinning wheel united India for the freedom struggle. British ruined Indian weavers through textile mills of Manchester, but the neo weavers of India, the freedom fighters, became a new challenge for the British. Gandhi opened the door of economic independence.

But his son Harilal, employed as a cashier by a mill owner in Kolkata mill, stole Rs. 30,000 from the cash box to buy "Synthetic Fabric" to encase the opportunity of making money during the world war. His calculations went wrong. The prices of the fabric fell down and he had lost the stolen money. His theft was caught. He lost the job. Gandhi published a news line, cut his relationship with him as father and warned people to not to lend him any money as his son. Later his life was ruined in the red streets of Kolkata. Gandhi died as "Light of India" and Harilal died as his "Shadow".

The invention of synthetic yarn (MMF, Man Made Fibre) revolutionized textile industry.

Dhurubhai Ambani established a Synthetic Yarn mill (Vimal) in Naroda, Ahmedabad in 1975 and started the vibration in the Textile Industry of Ahmedabad, the Manchester of the East. The Naroda mill didn't grow much but most of the cotton textiles mills of Ahmedabad were closed down in a decade. Year 1984, was a turning point. The organised mill industry moved to the unorganized sector of power looms and the synthetic revolution was moved from Ahmedabad to Surat. 

Surat (Suryapur) was the entry point for the foreigners. Portuguese established their fortress in Surat in 16th century and were mastered over sea trade. British established their first factory in Surat in 1615. British later moved to Bombay and the decline of Surat started. 

But after independence, the MMF and Diamonds have changed its fate again. The glory returned. Textile and Diamond Industries have made Surat, the fastest growing City of India. It is the financial capital of Gujarat and one of the highest earners of the tax revenue for the Central and the State government. It produces 30 million metres synthetic clothes everyday. 90 of the 100 diamonds of the world pass through Surat for cutting and polishing. 

The city of 776,533 population in 1981, became city of 2.43 million people in 2001 and 5.06 million in 2011. 

Surat has 450 textiles mills, 700,000 looms, 80,000 embroidery machines, 50,000 retail shops, the transporters and forward-backward businesses, giving employment to 2 million people. Diamond industry has employed another 1 million people. Saurastra, particularly the people from Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad made a new Saurastra in Surat. 

Thousands have been employed in building construction and allied activities. Thousands of youths from Orissa, Bihar, UP, Maharastra, Rajasthan, etc, are flooding and working in Surat. Unless someone says, I am not willing to work, everybody has some work in Surat.

Gujarati Poet Narmad described it, "Surat Sonani Murat" (Golden city of Surat). It is the Golden City of Gujarat.

But then why the tribal people living in adjacent to Surat remained poor? Why didn't they avail the benefits of employment opportunities generated by Surat? Some did but many preferred village life of poverty to the money life of slums.

Why?

Was it because of their castes of tribal?

Was it because, they are from the depressed classes?

Big No.

Surat demands skilled, hard working and committed work force. The labourers of other States work for more hours and go on leave occasionally. Earning is their major objective. Many of them live single, concentrate more on earning and work over time. Their targets are clear; work more, earn more and save more. The industries in Surat are getting skilled labourers as per their needs. 

But the local workers of surrounding tribal areas were not meeting with the  requirements of the market. They were unskilled. Their frequency of leaves and reluctance of working in odd hours may disturb the production and supply line of goods. It's a world of competition. Manufacturers have to play safe. Some people, the alcohol addict, can't be productive. As a result the industries in Surat preferred labourers from other states to locals. However, many tribal are working in Surat. 

The development of Surat has reduced poverty of the surrounding areas. But the argument remains, when the City was growing fast with lot of economic activities, why the tribal people in the adjacent districts remained poor. "Pani mai Min Pyasi..."

They were not poor because they are tribal. One may say that historically and geographically, they were located adversely. But things have been changed a lot, post independence. They didn't acquire the skill under the demand timely. They prefer peaceful natural life of village to the fast life of urban slums. They preferred O² to CO². They lack burning desires to earn money.

Whatever arguments are placed before, but none can say that they were unemployed in Surat because they were depressed, they were tribal.

Post independence, Poverty doesn't follow Castes.

Punamchand
20 February 2016

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