Today on September 28 many, many people in Chattisgarh and other parts of India will be remembering Shankar Guha Niyogi on his death anniversary. It was on this day that he was assassinated at the peak of his efforts to mobilize workers for a big struggle.

https://countercurrents.org/2022/09/remembering-shankar-guha-niyogi-on-his-death-anniversary/ 

Niyogi, a labor leader who became a legend in his lifetime, led a very creative trade union movement among iron ore miners of Central India during 1977-91, combining livelihood struggles with a health program, educational work, and a range of social reform and cultural regeneration activities. He broadened the trade union movement to link it closely with many-sided struggles of peasants in nearby villages, mostly from tribal communities, whether for land and forest rights or against pollution of water sources. Hence he was widely recognized as a highly creative labor leader who combined struggles with constructive activities ( sangharsh aur nirman).

Niyogi was active earlier as a student leader in college and coming from Bengal to work in Bhilai Steel Plant in Chattisgarh region, he gave up a promising career to merge entirely with the poorest, neglected sections of miners, moving from village to village, mine to mine, taking up odd jobs but all the time trying to understand his people and their problems. Along the line he was married to Asha, who worked in a mine, and henceforth they also became partners in various struggles.

In the early phase of the struggle workers could get some wage gains but the question of avoiding unemployment caused by mechanization was a bigger challenge. Here Niyogi showed his great creativity and ability to respond to complex issues with innovative thinking. The foremost union led by Niyogi ( Chattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh–CMSS)  resisted  heavy mechanization by arguing that the technology adopted by a country should be in keeping in with the conditions prevailing in the country. Heavy machines and total mechanization may be all right for those countries where loss of jobs caused by them is not a problem, but not for a country like India where unemployment is a big issue. Documents prepared at that time by the union reveal a very appreciable understanding of the complex debate. This understanding is close to the understanding of Mahatma Gandhi who had strongly argued against machines which disrupt and destroy livelihoods.

The CMSS prepared an alternative plan of partial mechanization which would protect jobs and also take care of quality control aspects. On this basis the union was able to protect mining jobs for a longer period.

A lesser known aspect of Niyogi is his firm faith in communal harmony and his union was active in protecting minorities or any victims of sectarian, targeted violence.

The anti-liquor movement of the CMSS is still remembered as one of the largest collective voluntary giving up of liquor, involving thousands of miners. This not only protected the health of workers and reduced domestic violence, but in addition led to purchase of diverse goods by workers for themselves and children, and thereby contributed to sudden upswing in the local market after the workers had experienced wage rise by given up liquor around the same time.

Successes of workers were annoying several dominant persons of the area, including liquor sellers. Things became even more difficult when Niyogi moved from the mining belt to the nearby Bhilai industrial belt to fight the battles of the workers employed by several leading private industrialists of the area. They were more aggressive towards workers and had closer relational with criminal mafias.

Once the BJP government was installed here led by Sunderlal Patwa as Chief Minister, the attacks on workers became more frequent. As a journalist I had reported on several such attacks at that time. Niyogi realized that his own life was under threat. He even recorded a last statement which indicated this. He then went with several workers to Delhi, and met the President of India and others. On 28 September 1991 a hired goon fired on him when he was sleeping peacefully after a very tiring day. His death sent shock waves throughout the country. Workers gathered in huge numbers to bid a very tearful farewell to the leader they had loved so much, elders weeping endlessly like they had lost their own child.

While the first court hearing this murder case sentenced two top industrialists along with three others to life imprisonment, they appealed against this decision, finally going back to their luxury life quickly enough.

The assassination of Niyogi was all the more tragic as Niyogi himself had striven hard to keep his movement non-violent despite grave provocations from time to time. His death was a very big blow to the spread of a very creative and innovative trade union movement, linked well to villages around industrial-mining belts, which had shown great promise. Niyogi died at the age of only 48, but his work still lives on in several struggles and efforts which draw inspiration from him.

by Bharat Dogra

28/09/2022

A legend of Uttarakhand Dr. Shamsher Singh Bisht is no more. https://www.newsviewsnetwork.com/a-legend-of-uttarakhand-dr-shamsher-singh-bisht-is-no-more-dies-at-73/ INDIAA legend of Uttarakhand Dr. Shamsher Singh Bisht is no more.
The land of abode of Gods Uttarakhand has today lost a relentless fighter, journalist, author, an ideologue, a social reformer, a committed activist, prominent Uttrakhand separate state activist n leader and the former student and youth leader with progressive ideals and principles.

He was an active participant and a youth pioneer in various movements such as Chipko, Nasha Nahi Rojgaar Do, movements for environmental protection and for the conservation of forests, water and land in Uttarakhand. Dr. Shamsher Singh Bisht regularly wrote on the soci economic, cultural, environmental and societal issues of Uttarakhand in the leading state dailies n other vernacular periodicals like Jan Satta, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran, Nav Bharat Times, etc.

शमशेर सिंह बिष्ट  https://www.nainitalsamachar.org/shamsher-singh-bisht/  

शमशेर सिंह बिष्ट के जन्मदिन पर विशेष : सुनो उस  राजा की कहानी | पास ना जिसके  घोड़ा  पालकी ना थी राजधानी 

Ganesh Devy's Tributes to J S Bandukwala. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/j-s-bandukwala-conscience-keeper-courageous-crusader-7748902/

 

Prof. JS Bandhukwala passed away this morning (29th Jan 2022) at vadodara. A human rights defender. Jimmy Dabhi

He survived 4 attacks on his home. The last time, 2002, it was burnt. He and his daughter had to hide in the neighbour's. He recalled this again when we met him 2-3 weeks back. Always courteous and polite when we went to his home, he could have gone to US after 2002 at the urging of his daughter. But he insisted his duty was here. With his demise, 3 remarkable individuals - Bandukwala, Kirit Bhatt and Tulsi Boda- who were active in Baroda PUCL are gone. Exemplary lives

 

The Attack on Prof Bandukwala from Final Solution Long version Mar 18, 2014 https://youtu.be/6e4dJbPxJQE?t=106 
Prof. JS Bandukwala, a well known Professor of nuclear physics at the University of Baroda and his daughter, Umaima, talk about the terrors of the Godhra riots that they had to undergo.
Prof. Bandukwala has been involved with many secular societies (Vice President of People's Union of Civil Liberties) within Baroda and has also been speaking at many events including RSS events. At one such event with RSS, the Professor had ended his talk with a harmless comment that the country can either choose either choose Savarkar's or Mahatama Gandhi's path- if we want to strengthen the country, it is Mahatama Gandhi's path that can take India ahead.
It was because of this statement that Prof. Bandukwala's house was ransacked and burnt by the Hindu extremists and burnt to ground, which was the first attack in Godhra. The attack was organized by the same people who had invited the Professor for the event, i.e. the RSS. This video details how the Professor and his daughter had to face hardship in the violence that ensued.

‘Terrorist sympathiser’ undaunted https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/terrorist-sympathiser-undaunted/story-wJ6Gj2QJJNun2T5Ki4kpGI.html A Vadodara-based human rights activist has offered to sponsor the education of the children of those responsible for the July 26 serial blasts, reports Rathin Das. 

“This gesture should not be misconstrued as my pronouncing judgement on the accused. They should be punished if they are proved guilty, but the education of their children should not suffer,” Bandukwala said. His offer was prompted by the news that the children had applied for school leaving certificates as their mother could no longer afford their education. 

Dr Bandukwala, who attracted his own community's ire for suggesting Muslims should forget and forgive those responsible for the Godhra riots, asserted he has said umpteen times that terrorism is against the tenets of Islam.

The professor said that after dropping out, a child from a lower middle class background ends up either at a tea stall or gets into a madrasa, the later being worse. “The bitterness in the young mind gradually grows into hatred and he becomes an anti-social or a terrorist,” reasoned Bandukwala, who has witnessed three decades of communal riots in Gujarat.

Articles: 

Quality of education, not religiosity, must be road ahead for Muslim community  October 5, 2020 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-way-of-the-school-6702883/ 

Part of the problem is Partition. We are still paying the price for Jinnah’s folly. The violence spawned religious hatred and revived old conflicts concerning mosques and temples. In a sense, this religious madness has paralysed our country all these 73 years. One such conflict was over the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi. A sickening clash over a house of god ruined countless families. The tragedy was compounded by politicians who sought power by inflaming passions on both sides. I was a victim of this mad fury. I suffered heavily, financially and emotionally. God alone saved my only daughter from a tragedy. What did these politicians gain by destroying the lives of innocents, who had no link to the Babri Masjid? 

How do we prevent such tragedies? On the Muslim side, they have to accept the reality of Partition. Equally, our Hindu brothers and sisters must accept that Muslims are a part of this country. There is no way we can remove such a huge population. No country will accept such a huge migrant inflow. We can see on our TV news the horror of people on boats trying to find safety in Europe. The CAA and NRC will only prolong the tragedy. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah must realise this.

The way out lies with the Muslims of India. They have to overcome their bitterness of the last 73 years. Jinnah will not come back. We have to lower the level of religiosity within the community. It is not conducive to good citizenship. The focus has to be quality education, business and industry, and most importantly, gender equality within the community. 

See other similar articles in Indian Express: : https://indianexpress.com/profile/author/j-s-bandukwala/

 

 

Vimal Bhai – Two Obituaries  https://janataweekly.org/vimal-bhai-two-obituaries/  August 28, 2022

Remembering Vimal Bhai, a True Gandhian Who Gave Direction to India’s Environment Struggle Debadityo Sinha 
Vimal Bhai Made An Important Contribution to Ecological and Social Movements  Bharat Dogra

 नहीं रहे चंबल के 654 डाकुओं का सरेंडर कराने वाले ‘भाईजी’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSqMY1V-UAo  27-Oct 2021 Veteran Gandhian thinker Dr. SN Subbarao has passed away. He was 93 years old. Subbarao was known as Bhaiji. He inspired 654 dacoits to surrender!

The story of the Chambal valley surrender of dacoits as told by Bhaji just two months before he passed.. https://youtube.com/embed/wxCkzWX_6eg?start=2059&end=2751 ( in Ahimsa Conversations)

About Dr. S. N. Subbarao http://snsfoundation.org/about-dr-s-n-subbarao/

A Journey of Life : Dr. S.N. Subbarao https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxuUlmRnuyc&t=12s

 

One of his last interviews .. in Ahimsa Conversations: https://youtu.be/wxCkzWX_6eg

Cultivating physical strength, finding joy in physical labor and being fearless are some of the key qualities for nonviolence. Subba Rao has learnt this over 70 years of holding youth camps, on the Gandhian ideals of truth and nonviolence, in every state of India and abroad. He has conducted 37 camps in the USA over that many years. Here ‘Bhaiji’, as he is better known, shares reflections on this work including his key role in the surrender of dacoits in the Chambal Valley in the 1950s. There are alternatives to the gun but it is weapons and organized violence that get large volumes of investment whereas nonviolence attracts a fraction of spending. What advocates of nonviolence can build upon is that people across the world are fed up of violence. Thus one day the world will accept that love is the alternative to the gun.

 

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