Dear comrades, friends and well-wishers,
Today is Labour Day, when we pay our homage to the labour of men and women which creates all social wealth. But living in these terrible times when human life itself seems to be of very little value, how can we expect that human labour will have the value and the dignity due to it? On one hand, those in power are quite unable to provide relief to people reeling under the second wave of the corona pandemic, allowing them to suffer and to die unattended; on the other hand, their numerical majority in the Parliament is being used to exploit the labour power of men and women through the most repressive laws we have known in independent India. They are also seeking to crush all dissent, launching an attack on the very federal character of our Republic and using, for the benefit of the corporate powers which control them, the dread excuse of the pandemic to withdraw whatever rights the people acquired through their struggles. For this purpose they have been seeking to corrupt all the democratic institutions of our country like the legislature, the judiciary, the media and the Election Commission. They have made governance synonymous with violent police and army action, encounters, scams and horse- trading.
For us, this darkest phase in the country’s history since independence offers a critical challenge. For a long time, we have used all the more familiar forms of democratic campaign to mobilise women from all sections of society to rise up together and demand the implementation of their basic rights inscribed in the Constitution. Our predecessors succeeded in gaining social acceptance for the principles of gender equality and gender justice through sustained struggle. AIDWA ever since its foundation as an all-India body forty years back has been in the forefront of this struggle.
But in the present circumstances, when the very grounds on which we had campaigned are being as it were removed from under our feet, we must not remain paralysed, but must discover unfamiliar and indirect modes of campaign and
communicate with the masses so that we may sustain our living links with women at the grassroots, women who are suffering, but are unable to make their voices heard because of their fragmented condition. In this fortieth year of AIDWA’s existence let us move forward taking lessons from our predecessors who, even before AIDWA formally came into being, anticipated the need for such an organization to develop and maintain vital links with the needs of women in our country at various levels.
Malini Bhattacharya, President, All India Democratic Women’s Association