On Mill Workers’ Plight, Nikhil Wagle and Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti

“Did you attend the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti [GKSS] program on May 1, the Labour Day?” Lulu asked. “It must have been very interesting.” Lulu, my parrot said. Lulu is undoubtedly the best informed parrot in the world. No surprise; he gets bird’s eye view of everything!

“Oh yes, indeed. It was very interesting and they were celebrating. Even the Chief Minister attended and spoke at the program. Celebrating their success of providing 7000 homes to textile workers! That is quite an achievement indeed for GKSS.” I said and continued, “I can understand the Chief Minister’s presence. Now that the elections are coming up everybody will take the side of the downtrodden.” I glanced at Lulu after having made a very insightful remark.

“Oh, No! You are speaking like Raj Thackeray.” Parrots must be a very arrogant breed of birds. Particularly when it comes to their master. Lulu is a great specimen of this tendency. Those who know Lulu well will never think that ‘parroting’ means what it means. No way. “What did he say?” Lulu asked.

“He said that he was supporting the cause of GKSS. More textile workers should get houses. He said what should have been said by a CM at such a function.”

“So was it a very bland affair? The program?” Lulu asked. I don’t like such questions. They are leading questions as a criminal lawyer would say. I have always had this belief that those who eat chilies imbibe its taste in their language and tone. Pungent. It hits you hard. You rush for a glass of water and sugar. But not the chilly eaters. They will take its bite with a dash of salt as if they are eating ‘chips’ at McDonald’s.

“Nah! The inimitable Nikhil Wagle spoke passionately. He took the cake; he touched the hearts of audience.”

“What did he say? We see him asking questions on IBN Lokmat; it must have been interesting to watch him speak.”

“He was very direct in his message, no words minced. That was what the audience liked. He said that the Society at large failed to support this movement of GKSS. With lakhs of workers losing their jobs and homes, the event never received as much support as it should have. In fact, very little support.”

“I think Press also did not support it well.” Lulu said.

“Nikhil Wagle held Marathi Press and its big names like Govind Talwalkar, Editor of Maharashtra Times and Madhav Gadkari, Editor of Loksatta for failing in their social responsibility.”

“Wow, that is a big charge! Hmmm… don’t you think he was right?” There is nothing like a leading question to make your point effectively.

“Yes indeed it is. We know Press covers what people want to read.”

“But these two men are considered intellectuals. They were great editors. You can’t say this of those men.” Lulu came in defence. “Moreover I wonder if Gadkari was there in Mumbai. He was perhaps away in Goa.”

“You really are well informed parrot, Lulu. But the GKSS movement is still continuing. It began long ago in the eighties.”

“There is of course the infamous misinterpretation of one-third quota which drastically reduced the land allocated to rehabilitation of textile workers. The nexus of builders and the political leaders!” Lulu observed.

“He said that the history of GKSS is the history of insensitivity and insouciance of our Society and our Press.”

“I think he has a point. Nothing moves our Society as much as religion. Give it a colour. Saffron, Green or Blue. And things will move. Not the plight of people. Well, tell me about Datta Iswalkar. He led this movement. He is a ‘clean’ man – a man of impeccable character and integrity. A sensitive man. A humble man. A low profile man, who shuns publicity. Did he say he will join politics now?” Lulu asked with great concern.

“Nikhil Wagle urged him to join. But everybody knows that Datta Iswalkar will not join politics.”

“Then politics will continue to be the den of scoundrels.” Lulu said. “And they will thrive on insensitive Society.”