January 16, 2006

From the trashcan - Mulling over mills

I’ve passed by them before. I never noticed them until yesterday. They are scattered all around the landscape of Central Bombay. Each mill distinguishes its identity with a tall tower, majestic and resplendent amidst the surroundings.

These mills were the center of major trading activities till a few decades ago. They employed millions of people in their bustling enterprises. That was the golden era. The cotton trade of Bombay was a very lucrative business. But, as they say, all good things have to come to an end. This did, too.

Strikes – a very common thing. If there was a demand put forth by the workers, the best way to get it fulfilled was to go on strike. In the 1980’s, there was one such strike. The workers’ union demanded an increase in their wages. They went on an indefinite strike. But…….there was an unfortunate turn of events. Mill owners started closing down their mills. The indefinite strike had become an infinite one. All the workers lost their jobs.

Now, with the expansion of Bombay city, this area has acquired the status of ‘prime property’. Mill owners are selling their land to private companies and builders for a fortune. And the poor mill workers – they continue to languish in the throes of their ‘indefinite’, unfortunately infinite strike.

No comments: