MARCH 8, International Women's Day was celebrated and March 10, death anniversary of the great social reformer and pioneer of women’s education in Maharashtra, Savitribai Phule, was observed in Thane-Palghar district of Maharashtra by AIDWA with tremendous zest and enthusiasm. During the week from March 3-10, over 8,000 women in various tehsils took part in programmes around the three slogans given by the AIDWA CEC:
1. Work for all with equal wages for equal work
2. Rise up against all regressive, Manuwadi and fundamentalist ideologies that deny women equal rights and
3. Immediately pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Along with these three slogans, many other issues close to women’s hearts were addressed in all these programmes. Women condemned the steep hike in the price of non-subsidised LPG gas cylinders, from Rs 466.50 in September 2016 to Rs 737.50 in February 2017. Women’s ability to keep the home fires burning and manage the family budget has come under severe strain due to this savage price rise in fuel. Women also raised issues of land, water, ration, health, atrocities and of anganwadi workers.
Deep anguish was also expressed at the death of a woman in Sangli district of Maharashtra due to an illegal abortion performed by an unqualified doctor, Dr Babasaheb Khidrapure. It demanded that the doctor, his team, medical officers and all those who were directly or indirectly involved in this abortion racket, which ironically came to light on the eve of International Women’s day, should be immediately arrested and charged with culpable homicide and abetment to homicide. This and many other such rackets in the nearby districts contradict the claim by the National Family Health Survey that the child sex ratio in the state shows significant improvement.
The programmes in the district included a 4000-strong rally and public meeting at Talasari, the handa (water pot) morcha by 1500 women at Shahapur, 1500-strong rally at Vikramgad, 700-strong rally in Dahanu, meetings at Wada (170), Thane city area (100) and Palghar (50) and a 200-strong convention of 15 Self Help Groups organised jointly with other women’s organisations in Bhiwandi town. Women from all over the district participated in all these programmes and made them a huge success.
They were led and addressed at various places by AIDWA all India general secretary Mariam Dhawale, district secretary Lahani Dauda, district president Prachi Hatiwlekar and other office bearers of AIDWA and Anganwadi Karmachari Sanghatana.
PARTY CLASSES FOR ADIVASI MEMBERS
As per the directive of the Kolkata organisational plenum, the CPI(M) in Thane-Palghar district organised a series of seven tehsil-level political classes last month in which nearly 2000 Party activists from the eight tehsils of Talasari, Dahanu, Jawhar, Mokhada, Vikramgad, Palghar, Wada and Shahapur participated. Most of them were adivasis.
The various topics handled in these classes were: Introduction to Marxism; Socialist Revolutions in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cuba; Party Programme and current political challenges, with special reference to the growing danger of the RSS-BJP government’s neoliberal policies and communal conspiracies; Party Constitution and Party Organisation, Party and Mass Organisations.
In five of the seven classes, these subjects were handled by CPI(M) central secretariat member Dr Ashok Dhawale. In the remaining two classes, the first two subjects were taken by veteran leader L B Dhangar and district secretariat member Prachi Hatiwlekar, while the last two subjects were covered by Thane-Palghar district secretary Barkya Mangat. It was very encouraging to see and feel the enthusiasm of the participants.
The other remarkable feature of these classes was the sale of Party literature worth over Rs 41,000. This literature included specially printed copies of the book ‘Adivasis Revolt’ (Jewhaa Manoos Jaagaa Hoto) written by legendary CPI(M) and AIKS leader Godavari Parulekar, based on her live experiences of the historic Warli Adivasi struggle, other books brought out by the CPI(M)’s publishing house ‘Janashakti Prakashan’, the CPI(M) weekly organ Jeewan Marg and the AIKS state journal ‘Kisan Sangharsh’.
Each class was followed by an extended meeting of the tehsil committee, where the future planning of the movement and organisation was done. Launching struggles on local issues, renewal of Party membership strictly following the guidelines of the central and state committee, streamlining the functioning of tehsil and local committees and Party branches, increase in the membership of all mass organisations and promoting their independent and democratic functioning, decision of fund collection to ensure remuneration for whole timers were the major decisions taken in these meetings.
DYFI FIGHTS FOR SCHOOL ADMISSIONS THROUGH RTE
The Right to Education (RTE) Act was passed by the central government in 2009. It ensures 25 percent of school admissions to children from the socially and economically backward communities from entry level in all private schools. The loopholes in this Act are used by schools to deny admission and facilities to poor children, hence its implementation remains a big challenge for the parents.
For the last two years, the DYFI in the urban areas of Thane district is fighting incessantly with all big international schools in the area and is helping parents to get admissions for their children in these schools.
Despite having provision for free admission, the students were denied admission due to the school managements’ tyranny and their craze for profiteering, unwillingness to give admission to poor and backward class students, submissive attitude of the government towards the arrogant school managements and misunderstanding among parents about the existing law. The DYFI team spotted the injustice and unified the affected parents, created awareness among them about the law and convinced them of the need for agitation to combat the negative attitude of the schools and government.
The DYFI conducted hundreds of awareness meetings in city areas. Countless memoranda were given to school managements and education department officials. DYFI activists along with parents agitated strongly in front of the schools that were denying admissions. With such agitations at many places, admissions were ensured to the students. Some school managements that were audacious enough to defy even government orders were brought back to their senses due to these agitations. In the last two years, the DYFI ensured hundreds of school admissions in the district.
This law not only ensures admissions but also waives the fees and provides for free school uniforms and books. But at every step the schools obstruct the parents. They conduct one-to-one meetings and try to extract money. Some parents also fall prey to this, considering their ward’s future. This was the scene till now and the DYFI has been successful in changing this to a large extent. However, we cannot rest content with this because admissions done are nowhere near the available 25 percent reserved seats.
Leaders of the DYFI Adv Nitin Dhule, Adv Ramdas Waingade and their team of young activists are working passionately and relentlessly for the cause. Recently, two big conventions of parents were organised by the DYFI in Kalyan town, in which the main speakers were the leader of the RTE struggle in Mumbai Prof Sudhir Paranjape, AIDWA All India general secretary Mariam Dhawale, DYFI state president Sunil Dhanwa, DYFI state general secretary Preethy Sekhar, AIDWA state joint secretary Prachi Hatiwlekar, DYFI state committee member Sanjay Kamble and others. A day-long study class for parents has been planned on April 2, which will be taken by former DYFI all India vice president and AIKS national joint secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale.
This constructive work by the DYFI is being praised and appreciated not only by parents of students who have been admitted to renowned schools, but even by urban society at large, which otherwise is reluctant to participate in any agitation.