Author: Meena Menon
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170462126
There is a history here which is in danger of being rewritten and forgotten in the rapid progress of what goes by the name of development, this means the loss of jobs and the future of their children. It also means a world that is growing around them, in which they no longer have a part to play.
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 globalizations, the survival of these 1.3 million people, their culture and 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. This 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 are now threatened with destruction.
This book comprises 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 throwing 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.
Leave the broad main road and turn into the smaller lanes and you seem to be in a different city altogether. The high walls that surround the mills, the chimneys looming above them, the unpainted chawls like three or four-storeyed boxes, the vegetable and fruit vendors crowding the lanes and, when the shifts change, the streams of workers flowing to and from the mill gates. In lane after lane, there are crowds of men at street corners, talking, arguing, gossiping; women in printed sarees accompanied by taffeta-ribboned young girls shopping for groceries. In the courtyards and corridors of the chawls, women sit chatting, cleaning grain, cutting vegetables while others roll bidis all day long. Children do their homework here, in the open, so as not to disturb fathers or brothers who may be sleeping after the night shift.
From Neighbourhood to Nation
Dr Rajnarayan Chandavarkar
The Heart of a City
They Were Singing Songs of Freedom
The War for Bombay
Rage of the Marathi Manus
Anatomy of a Strike 1982