22 October, 2020

Working Class Hero

Haushala Prasad Mishra’s struggle ensures compensation for Ahmedabad’s textile mill workers afflicted by byssinosis

Working Class Hero

THREE years to a brand new century, and primitive working conditions are still a painful reality. The worker still doesn’t know of his right to a healthy environment and a host of factors sustain this conspiracy of ignorance. A case in point is that of Ahmedabad’s textile workers, suffering silently in dark, dank workshops— grim reminders of 19th century Manchester. For years they were oblivious about byssinosis, a debilitating respiratory disease first detected in 18th century England, that had been gnawing at their lungs. What’s more, scientists, bureaucrats and the management were aware of the implications but chose to ignore them.

Not any longer. Haushala Prasad Mishra, a 44-year-old mill worker, has blown the whistle on the powers that be. Mishra who hails from Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh, had joined the Kaiser- e - Hind mill in 1979 at 26 as an apprentice. By 1986 byssinosis had caught up with him. He recalls: "I was often short of breath and wheezed like an asthmatic. But I discovered the problem was...



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