Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Rai Bahadur Rao Narayan Meghaji Lokhande (1848–1897)

     History of getting Sunday holiday .                    
   Rai Bahadur Rao Narayan Meghaji Lokhande  (1848–1897)       
                          ( A Dalit Hero who struggled hard to get sanctioned Sunday as public Holiday)
Nothing on this earth has ever been obtained without struggle particularly when it is for a larger interests of a community. Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar said “ All things have a bill of costs attached to it, you cannot get it without paying the price”. However very well meaning persons of vision have struggled for matters of common causes. One among such persons who showed  more concern for suffering millions laborers without caring for his personnel comforts was Narayan Meghaji Lokhande.  The Indian employees then had to work  all seven  week days without getting any beak or rest time time. For Christians Sunday is a  day of religious observance and abstinence from work. The Jews observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a prayer and rest day . Christians attend Church services to Pray in Church on every Sunday. So, Sunday is holiday in Christianity terming it as God’s day , the sign of a new creation, beyond the week Jesus. Christ on crucification on a cross.  rested in the grave on the Sabbath and rose the following day, beyond the end of the week. So for Christians the day following the Sabbath became known as “the Lord’s day” which was Sunday.
 Rao Bahadur Narayan Meghaji Lokhande (1848–1897) struggled hard to get one day weekly off with full pay perks to Indian workers  . He was Dalit being born in Fulmali or florist,a Hindu untouchable  caste.  Florists  grow flowers besides performing other agriculture based jobs.   He being contemporary and prominent colleague of   another social and education Revolutionary  Mahatma Jyotirao Phuley (11th April 1827 to 28th Nov.1890) of Poona(now Pune). Both belonged to mali caste now classified as Other Backward Caste. Both worked in unison in Satya Sodak Samaj movement and organized  labour to fight for their rights.
Meghaji Lokhande was convinced that labour needs weekly at least a day’s rest .This way they can look after their  family affairs for which they  toil hard.So he approached the British government of India in 1881 with a written request  to give weekly  a day’s off  from work to workers. But the government did not agree with his suggestion and the Indian workers continued  to work seven days a week without any break. However in UK Sunday officially had became an off day since 1843.  When the British Indian Government refused to accede to his  suggestions for Sunday as holiday for Indian workers too, he started a campaign for it. His struggle gained strength with every passing day. This campaign continued long, for eight years. When Narayan Megaji Lokhanday’s struggle for the cause of toiling Indian workers gained strong momentum the British Government declared Sunday as holiday in 1889. The success of the movement launched and guided by Shri Rao Narayana M. Lokhanday was not only a big relief to the labourers but an encouragement for Indian to launch more such movements for mass benefits. Ever since protests, agitations, non cooperative movements became an tool in Indian public hands to get their human rights enforced from the British rulers.           
 Meghaji Lokhande  was a pioneer of the labour movement in India and Mahatama Phuley utilizing his wife’s services opened 18 schools in and around Poona, many for girls. Education to girls and untouchables was  banned in Hindu shastras, particularly Manusmirity.  To organize mill workers Meghaji Lokhande  founded the Bombay Mill Hands Association  
( BMHA).He was its first President too. Mahatama Jyotirao Phuley also addressed the meetings of the textile workers in Bombay. It is significant that before Lokhande , Jyotirao and his  another colleagues Bhalekar had  tried to organize the peasants and the workers, hardly anybody else or any organization had made any such attempt to redress worker’s  grievances.
 Lokhandaye  is remembered not only for ameliorating the working conditions of textile mill-hands in the 19th century but also for his courageous initiatives on caste and communal issues. He was founding father of  “Mumbai Kamgar Sangh”. He was appointed associate member of the Bombay Factory Commission in 1890. Meghaji Lokhande is acclaimed as the Father of the Trade Union Movement in India so  was awarded title of “ Rai Bahadur”  by the British Government for his exemplary work of labour welfare.
Some of the rights mill workers got because of  Rai Bahadur Rao Narayan Meghaji Lokhande’s  labourious efforts  were:
 Mill workers got a weekly holiday on Sunday.
In the afternoon, workers should be entitled to half-hour recess.
The mill should have fixed working hours  and should start working from 6:30 in the morning and close by sunset.
He demanded that the salaries of the workers should be given by the 15th of every month.
 The Deenbandhu  a Marathi-language newspaper  was founded by Jyotirao Phule and K. R. Bhalekar in 1877. It was the first newspaper in India published from Bombay ( Now Mumbai) to cater explicitly for the labouring people.  It served as an outlet for Phule's Satyashodhak Samaj too. Nara yan Meghaji Lokhande, took over the management of Deenbandhu published from Bombay. He had already been writing for it from 1880 and was selling 1650 copies per week in 1884, thus making it the second-highest circulation Marathi or Anglo-Marathi newspaper in Bombay Presidency, after Kesari another Marathi paper founded in 1881 by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
While Lokhande published the Deenbandhu from BombayVithhal Marutrao Nawle, an admirer of Phule, bought the rights to publish an edition in Pune. He imported a printing press from Ohio that continued to produce the newspaper until it ceased publication in the 1970s. (Wikipedia)
 The Government of India issued a postage stamp with his photograph in 2005. He was the force behind forcing the British Crown to order weekly paid  Public Holiday on  Sunday for workers in India
Let us all salute the sweet memory of the Dalit Hero Rai Bahadur Rao Narayan Meghaji Lokhande becaue of whom Indian Labourers and workers including employees are enjoying weekly Sunday as paid Holiday.

Er.H.R.Phonsa Jammu
Contact:-hrphonsa@gmail.com             Mobile:-+919419134060

(Ref:-By Coursty of Wikipedia
 Economic and Political Weekly. 32 (7): 327–329. JSTOR 4405089 from)

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