Google celebrated the 132nd birthday legendary trade union leader Anasuya Sarabhai on Saturday with a doodle. She founded India’s oldest union of textile workers, the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh) in 1920.
Today, we have collected important facts and contributions of Anasuya Sarabhai.
1. She was born in 1885 into the affluent Sarabhai family of Ahmedabad and was known as Motaben (Gujarati for elder sister).
2. Her parents had died when she was only 9 and was taken care of by her brother Ambalal Sarabhai. She was married off at the age of 13 but she divorced her husband and returned to her family,
3. In 1912, Anasuya went to England to study medicine but soon she switched to London School of Economics because medicines studies involved animal dissection which was against her Jain beliefs.
4. In England, she was influenced by the suffragette movement. After she came back from England, she worked for women, poor and opened a school. She also started working with the marginal and disempowered communities.
5. In Ahmedabad, Sarabhai saw some workers passing by in half conscious state. She asked them about the matter and was deeply saddened when workers told her about their 36-hour work shifts. She took up the challenge to change the situation.
6. She became the voice of several workers and demanded better wages and working ambience for the laborers.
7. She was supported by Mahatma Gandhi also. She helped organising strikes in Ahmedabad in 1914 and 1918 for increase in wages. To support her Gandhi began a hunger strike which led to hike of 35 per cent. Her negotiations with the mill owners delivered a fruitful result.
8. In 1920, Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh) was formed which is the oldest union in the country.
Today’s doodle was created by Maria Qamar, a Pakistani-Canadian artist and author of the book Trust No Aunty.
We will always remember Anasuya Sarabhai for her contributions and spirit.