One Hundred Years One Hundred Voices: The Millworkers of Girangaon : an Oral History
The history of central Bombay s textile area is one of the most important, least known, stories of modern India. Covering a dense network of textile mills, public housing estates, markets and cultural centres, this area covers about a thousand acres in the heart of India s commercial and financial capital. With the advent of globalization, the survival of these 1.3 million people, their culture and their history has been up for grabs. The new economic policies of the Indian Government have sought to style this moribund industrial metropolis into a centre for global business and finance. The middle classes and business elite are anxious to turn it into offices and entertainment centres. The working-class residents face displacement after over a century of constant habitation, and the social rhythms and cultural economy of this area face an impending destruction. This book, comprising about a hundred testimonies by the inhabitants of these districts, which are a window into the history, culture and political economy of a former colonial port city now recasting itself as a global metropolis. While following the major threads of national and international events it tries to render the history of central Bombay through the narratives and perceptions of the people, in the process casting new light on the processes of history as they were experienced by the working classes the contesting ideas of what a free India would be; the growth of industry and labour movements; the World Wars and their impact; the complex politics of regional and linguistic identities in Bombay and Maharashtra; the eclipse of the organized Left and the rise of extremist sectarian politics. Meena Menon has been a political and trade union activist for the past 30 years and active in the textile workers movement for 11 years. Vice President of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti (Mill Workers Action Committe) and one of its founders. Also a Senior Associate with a global policy research organization Focus on the Global South. She is based in Mumbai. Neera Adarkar has been active in the women s movement for 20 years. A practising architect and urban researcher and visiting faculty in the Academy of Architecture in Bombay. Also a founding member of Majlis, a legal and cultural centre. One of the Convenors of Girangaon Bachao Andolan (Save Girangaon Movement). She is based in Mumbai. Dr Rajnarayan Chandavarkar is Reader in the History and Politics of South Asia, and Director, Centre of South Asian Studies, in University of Cambridge, UK. He is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, UK. His publications include The Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India: Business Strategies and the Working Classes in Bombay, 1900-1940 (Cambridge, 1994) and Imperial Power and Popular Politics: Class, Resistance and the State in India, 1850 1950 (Cambridge, 1998).