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Thursday, December 14

The End Of A Century

On Tuesday night, Lower Parel's(Bombay) Century Mill had it's last shift. I of the India Shining generation, I of the 10% GDP, sensex tanking at 14K generation have little to do with the mill and the lives supported by them. Except for the fact that my agency is in a former Mill(Kamla) compound...

Yet, this article by Soumitra Ghosh in HT on Thursday made me pause and think. Don't know what else can a feeling of one achieve...

Some heart-felt comments/observations from the article...

1. On the last day, as the mill was about to be closed forever, ironically the only source of light for the workers wanting to read about labour rights and exploitation, came from across the street - from the lifestyle store NOSTALGIA!

2. The worker in the picture above - Jagannath Ganpath Kamble, a resident of Chawl no. 14, with a partial disability had this to say -" I joined the mill as a fitter when I was 20. Now. I am 52. In 1982, I lost part of my middle finger while greasing a machine. but I felt a strange sense of pride when I saw the blood rolling down the machine, That is what the mill meant to me."

3. "How come we are making losses? This(Century Mills) was the only mill that was continuously modernised in the country. Clothes are always in demand. Are we headed towards a naked civilization?" asks a 54 year old worker, who has been working at the oldest and the biggest mill in the city for the past 36 years"

4. "Yeh company zabardasti ko voluntary bolna sikhaya. Jaisa murder karke log khud kushi bolta hai", says a 47-year old mill worker and one of the 6000 to accept VRS.

5. The government decided to allow the mill owners to sell the lands(600 acres of prime property in the heart of the city) so it would draw in sky-high real estate rates.

But the sale(of mill lands) has only pushed the prices upwards, making the mill lands graveyards for the workers and vineyards for the super rich -says a worker.

6. "Just as one stops feeling any emotion the day death visits a loved one, I too don't feel anything," says 32 year old worker Santosh Parab, in a whispering voices.

As I said earlier, I don't know what I/we can do apart from looking at the razed mills as I/ some of us cross the Lower Parel fly-over every day.

This is the grim other side of the retail boom. The stories of lives affected adversely, buried in the inner pages of the dailies while the Walmart-Bharti/ Reliance Retail and the Future Group grab column cm on pg1.

1 comment:

Manish said...

i am surprised nobody had anything to say/ share on this post...

but then again, sometimes silence says it all!