Anasuya Sarabhai – Biography of Indian Labour Activist

Anasuya Sarabhai a women’s labour movement leader’s 132nd birthday is being celebrated with a Google doodle.

It’s a proud moment for the country to have such a great personality getting in Google doodle where the entire world will see . Google celebrated the 132nd birthday of Anasuya Sarabhai, pioneer of the women’s labour movement in India, She is the lady behind the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majadoor Mahajan Sangh), India’s oldest union of textile workers, in 1920.

Early Life

Sarabhai was born in Ahmedabad on 11 November 1885 into the Sarabhai family of Sarabhai and Godavariba, a wealthy family of industrialists and business people. Both her parents died when she was nine, so she, her brother Ambalal Sarabhai, and a younger sister were sent to live with an uncle. She was in a short-lived and unhappy child marriage at the age of 13. With the help of her brother, she went to England in 1912 to take a medical degree, but switched to theLondon School of Economics when she realised the animal dissection involved in obtaining a medical degree was in violation of her Jain beliefs.



In England, Anasuya was deeply influenced by the  Fabian Society and Suffragette movement. She had become an ardent socialist when returned to India. Once returned, she worked for women and poor and opened a school for them. She invited Mahatma Gandhi to Ahmedabad and organised textile workers in a 1914. He support led success of Ahmedabad Mill Strike. In 1920, Gandhi also formed Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh) with her support.

Career

She returned to India in 1913and started working for betterment of women and the poor. She also opened a school. She decided to get involved in the labour movement after witnessing exhausted female mill workers returning home after a 36-hour shift. She helped organise textile workers in a 1914 strike in Ahmedabad. She was also involved in a month-long strike in 1918, where weavers were asking for a 50 per cent increase in wages and were being offered 20 per cent.Gandhi, a friend of the family, was by then acting as a mentor to Sarabhai. Gandhi began a hunger strike on the workers’ behalf, and the workers eventually obtained a 35 per cent increase. Following this, in 1920, the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh) was formed.

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