Weavers of Banaras are forced to work for less than the minimum wage


With the goal of raising class consciousness and mobilizing the working population of Banaras, especially the weavers, a meeting was organized at the Swayamvar Vatika on behalf of the Fatima-Savitri Janasamiti. The weavers themselves openly discussed the issues related to their status and wages in the programme.

Mohammad Ahmad Ansari, who toils with his family on power looms, said that due to the monopoly of capital and middlemen on the market, morally the wages of people engaged in weaving work are not even Rs 400, as compared to construction workers. In the same context, the aspect of education also arose in consideration   of the social backwardness of the Muslim population and the comparatively worse condition of women.

Ahmed said that when the wage-income is so rock bottom, the major concern is about maintenance or education. The grave economic condition, has forced the children of the weavers to study in madrasas..

Progressive intellectuals assert that breaking the chains binding the feet of the productive forces is the only means of accomplishing the historical mission of the working class.

In order to raise class consciousness and mobilize the working population of Banaras, especially the weavers, a meeting was organized at the Swayamvar Vatika on behalf of the Fatima-Savitri Janasamiti. The weavers themselves openly discussed the issues related to their status and wages in the programme.

Vinay of Bhagat Singh Chhatra Morcha said that along with low wages, the question of education is inter linked to the autocratic political structure of the ruling class.

He said that today the ruling class has made education a commodity to be exchanged in the market.

Harihar Prasad, convenor of Janwadi Vimarsh Manch, said that the new education policy is being implemented to enforce the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations. Under this, path is paved for preparing cheap and skilled labour to provide for domestic and foreign capitalists.

Due to this, higher education cost is soaring. Strongly advocating equal and free education for all, he said that if it is not opposed, the children of poor-disadvantaged sections will be deprived of higher education and it will turn into the privilege of the rich.

While conducting the program, poet-critic Dr. Vandana Choubey said that the imperialist Mahaprabhus created an atmosphere supporting or paving the way of opening up the economy completely by spending vast capital.

Institutional intellectuals were patronised to spread the ideology of fragmentation. He said that with the objective of camouflaging the conspiracy on the basic question of master-labour, identity-discussion was created to relegate the basic question from the peripheral questions.

He said that the question of women and education is also directly related to the problem of stagnation and recession in the economy and unemployment. If we want to solve the problem of marketing of education, then we have to link it with the question of unemployment.

Referring to the era of Fatima Shaikh, he said that she was not running the colonial structure of India during the British era independently. The Brahminical forces that were here, the forces of the affluent people, who had wealth, dominance, caste power, all allied with those forces.

He said that even after achieving independence, to a considerable extent the British system of education continued. Describing the present phase as the second phase of imperialism, he said that after independence people placed great faith in government institutions but gradually this trust began to decline in the 90s.

An atmosphere has been built popularising the private sector with the help of capital. Disbelief was expressed in every government thing and the narrative was made in such a way that all areas of public utility services should be opened to the private sector.

A whole round of publicity and advertisement came and it was told that the name of freedom is to open everything for capitalists and companies. He said that when the government is responsible for education and health, then we have the right to raise our voice against their poor quality because we form the government by voting.

After control was handed over to the private sector, they were unable to speak because the private sector undertook activities only for accumulating profits.. Sharing his experiences related to weaver-Muslim settlements, he said that the question of communalism and the debate on it is very minute tickling the Muslim community.

The labourers expressed their concern on  how to make a living for themselves and to provide for their families on June 2.

He said that this so called democracy is the oligarchy of the capitalists. The government has opened all channels for the capitalists by removing all the tariffs and duties and opening all the avenues of the market. This has broken the back of the working class.

This autocratic social structure os what the government terms as democracy. We have to understand the hypocrisy of this so called democracy..It is imperative to  fight for democracy, but under no means  can one consider the democracy monitored  by the government and capitalists as democracy.

Amit of Disha Students Organization said that the education system of the country is undergoing  a phase of drastic change .. He said that the exploitative system of the past is continuing in the present education system as well.

Without destroying this capitalist system which sucks the blood of labourers and extracts profits from their blood and marrow, it is not possible to construct a system of mass-scientific education. He said that the question of anti-people rule remains as important today as it was during the British era.

Pawan Kumar, a social activist associated with the labour movement, said that in this capitalist marketism, education is not an isolated feature from other needs of life like health, family environment, house, food, clothes etc. but all are connected to each other.

Education is not only formal education available in schools and colleges, but with this formal education, informal education starts from birth as well as parents, family environment, surrounding environment and economic social conditions of the family. And nowadays this informal education is being given continuously through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media.

Higher education is restricted only to the rich and capitalists who buy labour and is snatched from the reach of those who earn their livelihood by selling their labour. He said that in this system, by those who live by selling labour; there is no bigger lie and illusion than propagating that. good days will also come for the common people.

Launching a scathing attack at today’s capitalist polity, identity-discussion (backwardness, casteism, feminism, regionalism etc.), he said that the ruling class wants evade the issues of the common people and make the working people forget it.. That’s why it has been invested billions of dollars to the NGO-world to divert attention from the basic issue of capital vs labour. He said that education policy needs to be fought in an organised manner, integrating it along with other problems.

Social activist Advocate Shahzade said that the process of knowledge cannot develop without inculcating social consciousness, it takes 18 years for any brain to mature, during this time education based on religious prejudices, and caste discrimination spoils the personality of a human being. Education armed with social consciousness, which is oriented with the mode of production, creates a man who exudes the spirit of collectivism-co-operation.

He said that the capitalist tries to maintain continuity in the long-standing social system by controlling the social consciousness to fulfill its purpose.

Dr. Mohd. Arif of All India Secular Forum while portraying the garve picture of unemployment and scarcity among highly educated youth said that on the issue of weavers, statements are published in newspapers every day, due to the demand related to flat rate of electricity. Addressing  subject of additional social pressures on dress and overall upholding  of personality on those doing mental labour as opposed to manual labour, he said that even the so-called highly-educated people are as much troubled by the aggravation of the crisis-stagnant economy as the common man.

Kusum Verma of AIPWA, Indrajit of Bihar Nirman and Unorganized Labor Union, Swaraj India’s Mohd. Ahmed Ansari, Indrajit of Uttar Pradesh Construction and Unorganized Labor Union, social worker Pratima etc. also addressed.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India


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