Vol. XLI No. 09 February 26, 2017

Com RG is No More

K Swaminathan

COMRADE R Govindarajan, a senior leader of the All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA), and editorial board member of the “Marxist” (Tamil) monthly magazine of the Tamil Nadu state committee of the CPI(M),  breathed his last on February 18, 2017.

Com R Govindarajan, fondly called RG by the insurance employees throughout the country, worked in various positions of AIIEA for more than 40 years. He was the founder leader of Insurance Corporation Employees Union, Thanjavur division in 1962 and became the divisional level office bearer of the union under the presidentship of veteran Communist leader Com R Umanath. He continued to work as general secretary and president of Thanjavur divisional unit which was one of the vibrant units of AIIEA. Com RG’s intellectual acumen eventually expanded his clout beyond the confines of the Thanjavur division. LIC had then launched a scheme of centralisation of policyholders’ service of Thanjavur Division, in that certain functions of the divisional unit were to be centralised and operated from Chennai. It was rather a precursor to the nationwide scheme of automation in LIC. RG’s intellectual inputs on automation acquired in this process greatly helped the organisation when it launched a nationwide movement of LIC employees against automation. The historic “IlACO Vigil” at Kolkata lasted for six months. This movement of physical resistance that forestalled the launching of a super computer in Kolkata was a glorious episode in the anti-automation struggle.

He rose to the position of all India joint secretary of the AIIEA when the head quarters was shifted to Chennai from Kolkata. Com RG was asked to shift his residence to Chennai from Thanjavur and he responded to the call of the organisation against odds in personal life. He held this position for 12 long years. It was a crucial period when the onslaughts of globalisation were heavily knocking at the doors of the Indian insurance industry. The necessity arose to infuse technological up-gradation in the LIC to meet the aspirations of the clientele, that too in an era of competition. The work culture of public sector employees needed to be further strengthened to the expectations of the modern day customers. Com RG toured throughout the country along with main office bearers of the organization, Com Saroj Chaudhuri, Com RP Manchanda, Com NM Sundaram to prepare the organisation to match the requirements of the times, without unnecessary hangovers as well as compromises. In fact it was a “tight rope walk” for which maturity and in-depth understanding were required for the leadership. Com RG was part of that team which responded to the situation in a befitting manner.

Com RG’s contribution was significant in creating social sensitivity among the cadres in fighting the incursion of ‘Identity politics’ within the ranks of AIIEA. AIIEA took up a firm stand on communal harmony and social justice. The seeds of divisions were sown in the society in the background of Babri mosque demolition and anti-reservation stir against Mandal commission. The external heat was felt inside the organisation too. It was a big challenge and it required urgent and continuous dialogue with the rank and file. Com RG addressed many meetings in various parts of the country and participated in trade union workshops on this score. He was a good orator and teacher. His effective presentations in the conferences, conventions and personal conversations with cadres and employees helped in unifying the movement ideologically and organisationally.

The conference of AIIEA held at Jaipur which elected com RG as joint secretary of AIIEA gave a call for organising women conventions to create gender sensitiveness within the organisation as well as for taking up women specific demands such as enhancement of maternity leave, women’s rest rooms etc. The decision of the conference and election of Com RG might be a coincidence but not un-related developments. After all, organisation needs appropriate leadership with particular skills at certain stages of development. Com RG gave a broader vision to the organisation to develop the working women’s movement. The contribution of leaders like RG has resulted in significant improvement in women comrades occupying leadership at various levels. Realising various gender specific demands, enhancing participation of women members in TU activities, developing cadres for the democratic movement beyond the walls of the insurance sector etc became the core issues of the working women’s movement.

Com RG was not only the leader of the insurance movement. Throughout his life he had in his mind the emancipation of the working class as a whole. He naturally gravitated towards the communist movement. He contributed much in educating the cadres on Marxism and its dialectics. He worked in the state committee office of the CPI(M), TN after his retirement. He became one of the special invitees to the PC. He was elected to the position of a Central Control Commission member of the CPI(M). He continued as the member of the editorial board of Marxist (Tamil) till his death. He worked hard with utmost sincerity in discharging all the tasks assigned to him.

Com RG’s funeral procession saw hundreds of comrades, from various parts of the state with grief and affection towards him. N Sankaraiah, veteran leader of CPI(M), TK Rengarajan MP, K Varadharajan, U Vasuki (CC member), V Ramesh (general secretary of AIIEA) paid floral tributes to his mortal remains.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, G Ramakrishnan, Polit Bureau member and state secretary who was out of station on that day, AK Padmanabhan, Polit Bureau member, Amanullah Khan (president- AIIEA) and K Venugopal (vice-president – AIIEA) condoled the death of Com RG through their messages.  

Com RG will be ever remembered by generations to come for the untiring service he rendered to the movement of the working class in general, and insurance employees in particular.