One Hundred Years One Hundred Voices

The Millworkers of Girangaon: An Oral History

Meena Menon, Neera Adarkar

With an introductory essay by Dr. Rajnarayan Chandavarkar



Out of Print

 

2004

ISBN : 9788170462125


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‘There is a history here which is in danger of being rewritten and forgotten in the rapid progress of what goes by the name of development . . . this means the loss of jobs and the future of their children. It also means a world that is growing around them, in which they no longer have a part to play.’ The history of central Bombay’s textile area is one of the most important, least known, stories of modern India. Covering a dense network of textile mills, public housing estates, markets and cultural centres, this area covers about a thousand acres in the heart of India’s commercial and financial capital. With the advent of globalization, the survival of these 1.3 million people, their culture and history, has been up for grabs. The new economic policies of the Indian Government have sought to style this moribund industrial metropolis into a centre for global business and finance. The middle classes and business elite are anxious to turn it into offices and entertainment centres. The working-class residents face displacement after over a century of constant habitation, and the social rhythms and cultural economy of this area are now threatened with destruction.

 

This book comprises about a hundred testimonies by the inhabitants of these districts, which are a window into the history, culture and political economy of a former colonial port city now recasting itself as a global metropolis. While following the major threads of national and international events, it tries to render the history of central Bombay through the narratives and perceptions of the people, in the process throwing new light on the processes of history as they were experienced by the working classes-the contesting ideas of what a free India would be; the growth of industry and labour movements; the World Wars and their impact; the complex politics of regional and linguistic identities in Bombay and Maharashtra; the eclipse of the organized left and the rise of extremist sectarian politics. 


Neera Adarkar has been active in the women’s movement for 20 years. She is a practising architect and urban researcher and visiting faculty in the Academy of Architecture in Bombay. She is also a founding member of Majlis, a legal and cultural centre. She is one of the Convenors of Girangaon Bachao Andolan (Save Girangaon Movement). She is based in Mumbai. 


Meena Menon has been a political and trade union activist for the past 30 years. She has been active in the textile workers’ movement for 11 years. She is Vice President of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti (Mill Workers’ Action Committe) and one of its founders. She is also a Senior Associate with a global policy research organization called Focus on the Global South. She is based in Mumbai. 

 

Social History
Politics
Culture Studies