Recently I attended a Diamond Jubilee Conference of a national level trade union organization at Mumbai. It was a grand show continuing for almost the whole day. Every things was there –dance, drama, mimicry, caricaturing, martial arts. All this with grandeur and fantasy. It happened to be the last working day in service for the top man in the organization. A veteran,he spoke well ofcourse more in generality than on the heroic struggle his union had to face and fight in its formative stage right from early twenties of the last century and onwards. A prominent leader of theirs passed away a few days before these celebrations and there was an entry gate named after him and also a minute’s silence was observed as a ritual before the entertainments in the form of dazzling cultural programmes started on the stage. Beyond this, there was hardly, nay not at all, any mention of his or other great leaders who are no more. In a way there was nothing very surprising in it as the current incumbents in the setup have otherwise an image and reputation of obliviously ignoring the past, the very root of establishing a giant trade union organization in the days when it was too difficult a task under British rule in the country. More than any talk on trade union, it was overall a show with lavish outlays leaving even a capitalist far behind. Some one in the crowd remarked sab paise ka khel hai (it
is all a show of money).
A senior management functionary was the star attraction in her capacity as the Chief Guest who obviously had to take full advantage of putting forth the managements view point on industry’s growth doubly cashing the opportunity –more so as it was from a trade union platform, a platform otherwise exclusively belonging to workers.
It was to my amazement to find that a trivially small statue of the pride of Maharashtra and one of the great heroes of the country Veer Shivaji was negligibly placed in a corner of the dais, dwarfed and miserably miniatured. I certainly felt somewhat uneasy on that count feeling reminded of a similar embarrassment when I visited Madam Tussauds in London to find Mahatma Gandhi’s wax figure disdainfully displayed in a forlorn corner of the museum isolating him from other giant size wax figures of the renowned world leaders. There I could reconcile with the thought that Britishers still take Indians including lndian leaders as their subjects and with that sort of a deep rooted prejudice their conduct was nothing very unusual but why people of Maharashtra could afford dwarfing Shivaji is something I am just unable to comprehend. A great warrior, a great leader, a great statesman as Veer Shivaji was, he is the one who deserves top rank order whenever his statue is tobe placed, more so in Maharashtra. As I distinctly remember, my friends, the leaders and the people of Mumbai, once felicitated me at quite a large scale and the very giant size bronze statue of the great Shivaji was prominently there on the stage to inspire and encourage both the leaders and the audience. Organisers being more or less the same on both the occasios, I am somewhat at a fix to draw any cogent reason behind any difference between the two.
The show was fully indicative of the hard labour the organizers and the volunteers might have put in to make the event a success and they do deserve laurels on this count. The event must have been much more a matter of glory if due coverage of trade union issues and industrial disputes in conjunction with historical background was there.