ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hamals of Poona

bour has worked very well over the years and that is one major reason why all is Avell with the South Asian world. A ' columnist should not hazard predictions, But one prediction seems unavoidable. When the new American President takes over in January 1977 a similar process will begin. A visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Washington or by the American President to New Delhi should not be ruled out. Our present problems with the Americans, whatever they are, are unlikely to survive the November election. Hopefully, THE hamal panchayat was formed in 1955. The story goes that, one day as some hamals were sitting outside a restaurant drinking tea, they saw the sweeper women arrive in new clothes. The women told them that they had got the clothes from the municipal corporation in response to their demand. The hamals thought, these women have made gains through forming themselves into a union. We are men, we don't have any organisation to fight for our rights. So the hamals decided to form a union. The first meeting was held in a temple. When the local political parlies saw that the hamals wanted to organise themselves, they approached them. The hamals, however, went to the INTUC office. There were no laws of protection for them. The unprotected need unions more: they need to struggle to secure legislation for the protection of their interests. Besides, the hamals were illiterate paupers whereas the traders were wealthy and able to buy off politicians. There was the distinct danger, therefore, in the early days, that the organisation would become defunct. Finally, the hamals approached Baba Adhav, u Rashtriya Seva Dal leader, and a doctor with a flourishing practice. Adhav put in much effort to build up the organisation. Over 20 years, the panchayat has organised half a dozen strikes. Some difference was made as a result to the lives of the hamals.

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