International Labor Day and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

ambedkar dalit

Sometimes the less successful people are made the heroes of history and are valued in history but it takes centuries for the great heroes to find their true place. And though it takes centuries, these great heroes find a place in the hearts of countless generations. Babasaheb Ambedkar is also one of such great personalities. This century identified as Babasaheb Ambedkar’s century is slowly expanding into the 21st century in India. New dimensions of his personality and gratitude are coming forward. One of the hallmarks of his personality is the identity of the workers and peasant leaders. Very few people know that he founded the Independent Workers’ Party. On November 7, 1938, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also led a strike of more than one lakh workers. Addressing the gathering after the strike, he appealed to the people to take power by electing people’s representatives in the existing Legislative Council. The strike was called by the Independent Labor Party founded by Babasaheb Ambedkar on 15 August 1936.

A large number of workers were present at the meeting convened by the Labor Party on November 6, 1938, before the strike on November 7. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself was appealing for a successful strike by touring the workers’ area in an car. During the procession, British police opened fire, injuring two workers. The strike in Mumbai was a complete success. The strike was also successful in Ahmedabad, Amalner, Chalisgaon, Pune and Dhule to protect the basic right of workers to strike. Ambedkar had called this strike. In September 1938, the Congress government introduced the Industrial Disputes Bill in the Mumbai Legislature. Under the bill, the Congress government had proposed to classify the strike as a criminal offense. Opposing the bill in the legislature, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar said, ‘Strike is a fundamental right of the workers. How can this crime be criminal? Forcing someone to work against his will is nothing less than enslaving him, punishing those who work for the strike is tantamount to enslaving him. ‘

He said that this (strike) is a fundamental freedom, which he will not allow to be curtailed under any circumstances. He told the Congress government that if freedom was the right of the Congress leaders, then strike was also the sacred right of the workers. Dr. Ambedkar’s opposition, the Congress took advantage of the majority to pass the bill. It was called the ‘Black Bill’. In protest of this bill, Dr. The Labor Party, led by Ambedkar, went on strike on November 7, 1938.

Earlier, on January 12, 1938, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar led the peasant struggle under the banner of the Independent Labor Party. On this day, 20,000 farmers from Thane, kulaba, Ratnagiri, Satara and Nashik districts had gathered in Mumbai to protest. The procession was led by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The main demand of the farmers in this movement was to abolish the Mahar land( jamindari) tenure system and the Khot system. On 1 September 1937, he introduced a bill to abolish the Mahar ‘land system’ to free the Mahars from slavery. In this way the Mahars had to work the whole village and provide other services in exchange for a small space. In a way, he was the guardian of the whole village.

The bill also stipulates that Mahars should not be evicted from their land in return for their services to the village. Shahu ji Maharaj enacted a law in his Kolhapur state in 1918 to end the ‘land tenure’ Mahar jamindari system and implement land reforms and make the Mahars the right to own land. This order largely overcame the economic slavery of the Mahars. Ambedkar also introduced a bill to end the Khot system. Under this arrangement, an arbitrator would collect the rent. Calling him Khot. These estates began to behave like local kings. They kept a large portion of their earnings. These quarries were mostly of high caste.

The Congress party got an overwhelming majority in the Mumbai Presidency’s Legislative Council. He did not allow Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s land tenure and khot system to come to an end. The reason for this was that the Congress was led entirely by Brahmins or Marathas, who benefited the most from the vatan system and the khot system. He was by no means ready to relinquish his right to domination and exploitation. Along with the untouchables, the Marathi Kunabi community also joined in this struggle of the farmers.

While leading this struggle of workers and farmers, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also took the support of socialists and communists. But this cooperation did not last long because communists and socialists considered capitalism as an enemy. But he was not ready to fight against Brahmanism. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar considered both Brahmanism and capitalism to be the enemies of the working people of India. From the presidency of the Untouchable Railway Workers’ Council held at Manmad from 12 to 23 February 1938, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar said, “The Indian working class is a victim of both Brahmanism and capitalism, and in both these systems the same social group dominates.” He told the untouchable workers present at the meeting that the special enemy of the Congress, the Socialists and the Left untouchable workers were not ready to fight Brahmanism. He appealed to the untouchables ’trade union to support his party’s independent labor party.

The Government of India Act, passed by the British Parliament in August 1935, provided for an autonomous state of India in various provinces and centers. Elections were held in 1937 under this Act. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar formed the Independent Workers Party to participate in these elections. In the Bombay Presidency, the party fielded 17 candidates, including 11 reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes, and won 11 seats, including Dr. Ambedkar himself. The remaining four candidates stood in the general seat, winning three. In Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, the party won three of the 20 seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes. In this election, the Congress party got an absolute majority in the Bombay Presidency. The Independent Labor Party was the second largest opposition party in the Bombay Presidency after the Muslim League.

A comprehensive evaluation of Baba Saheb’s work for laborers and farmers is still pending.

Vikas Parasram Meshram is a journalist
[email protected]

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