Demonstrations were organised in district levels on 26th February 2021 as per call of AIBDPA on the major demands of the Pensioners.
DENIAL OF IDA INSTALLMENTS TO BSNL PENSIONERS-
KERALA HIGH COURT ISSUES INTERIM ORDER ON WRIT PETITION FILED BY AIBDPA .
As you are aware, AIBDPA is the only organization intervened on the DPE OM dated 19-11-2020 freezing three installments of IDA due from 01-10-2020-01-01-2021 and 01-04-2021 to the employees of CPSEs. We took up the issue with the hon’ble Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, writing a detailed letter on 22-11-2020 stating that the DPE OM is not applicable to BSNL pensioners as it is specifically mentioned in the OM that the freezing is applicable to Executives and Non-Unionised Supervisors. We again wrote to the Minister when the Assistant Solicitor General deposed before the High Court of Kerala in a case filed by FACT Employees Association, that the OM is applicable only to the Executives and Non-Unionised Supervisors. DPE itself issued a clarificatory order dated 08-01-2021 based on the Kerala High Court order, stating that the freezing of IDA is applicable only to the Executives and Non-Unionised Supervisors of the CPSEs and it is not applicable to other employees including workmen.
AIBDPA wrote another letter on 09-01-2021 to the Minister quoting the DPE OM dated 08-01-2021 and demanding to cause necessary action for issuing formal orders for the payment of two installments of IDA due from 01-10-2020(5.5%) and 0-1-01-2021 (6.1%) to BSNL pensioners. DPE responded to this letter and forwarded our letter to DoT, being the administrative Department,for necessary action on 04-02-2021 with copy to AIBDPA. CHQ , then wrote to Secretary, DoT attaching the letter of DPE and demanded early action to issue necessary directives to the banks and post offices for disbursement of the two IDA installments to BSNL pensioners.
But having no positive response or action either from DPE or DoT, CHQ filed a writ petition in the High Court of Kerala on 26-02 2021 through Advocate V V Suresh. The Hon’ble High Court accepted the case and issued an interim order directing the respondents not to deny the IDA installments to BSNL pensioners. The counsel appearing for the government asked time for the counter affidavit/ reply and our advocate argued strongly that the stand of the government has already been stated by the Assistant Solicitor General in similar cases of this court to the effect that freezing is applicable only to Executives and Non-Unionised Supervisors and no time is necessary. However, the High Court allowed time and also issued an interim order in our favour on today itself. Details will be intimated after receipt of the certified copy of the judgment. It is significant to get an interim Order on the same date of admission of the case.
YES, COMRADES; WE ARE ALMOST TO THE ACHEIVEMENT.
With warm greetings,
K G Jayaraj General Secretary AIBDPA
79. AT HOME, KOZHIKIDE
After a long stint of stay at Delhi, now have returned back to Kozhikode, Kerala. In the first few days went to Telephone Exchange, Post Office, Bank, Gas agency, met old comrades and arranged telephone connections, ration cards, gas connection and bank accounts.
Got sufficient time to read books. While in Delhi, reading was mostly done in trains and flights while travelling. Got more time to attend to AIBDPA, the pensioners’ organization of BSNL and DOT of which I continues as Advisor. Attended to activities of BSNLCCWF, organization of BSNL Casual and Contract Workers and CGPA, Central Government Pensioners Association. Utilised the time to meet old friends and comrades, as also many new comrades.
I took membership of the Senior Citizens Friends Welfare Association (SCFWA) at the initiative of Comrades P.V.Chandrasekharan, M.Bhaskaran and T.Devi. Attended Corporation and District Conferences of the Association.
4th State Conference of SCFWA was held at Tagore Centenary Hall Kozhikode on 23-24 November 2017, to which I was also a delegate. When the agenda for election came,I was told that they have decided to elect me as an office-bearer. Thus I was elected as State President along with existing office-bearers Shri Amaravila Ramakrishnan (General Secretary), P.V.Chandrasekharan, T.Devi (Vice-Presidents) and others.
It cannot be said that I had no connection with senior citizen’s organization earlier. I was member of Senior Citizens’ Forum for some time after my retirement, which was formed at the initiative of well-known Advocate M.C.V.Bhattathiripad, Kuthuparamba, who was my cousin brother. But I was not active, since I was at Delhi and all connection was lost after some time.
All the office-bearers are having expert knowledge of the problems of senior citizens as also the social security measures being implemented by the state government and local bodies. They helped me to understand the issues. The experience of working in the Trade Union International of Pensioners and Retirees (TUI P&R) affiliated to WFTU, as a Member of its Technical Committee, helped me in my new responsibility.
Number of Senior Citizens is on the increase. While the number was around 90 crores all over the world a few years back, it is expected to be increased to 200 crores by 2050. In Kerala, there are 60 lakhs elders, more than 15% of the population. Almost the same ratio nationwide also. The longevity has increased. They require social security, health care and protection. The Left Front Government in Kerala is implementing many senior citizen friendly measures. Social security pension has now been increased to Rs. 1600 and will be paid at home. Central government is allotting only Rs. 200 per month. Centre has withdrawn the train ticket concession to senior citizens during the Covid-19 period. There is scope for better growth of the organization. In the recently held State Conference of SCFWA held at Thrissur on 11th February 2021, I have been re-elected as President.
After re-settling at Kozhikode, published two books, one on the life of Com.N.P.Padmanabhan, the well-known militant leader of the P & T and central government employees and former Secretary NFPTE, and the other on the Historic Strike of Central Government Employees on 19th September 1968 jointly with Com. PVC. A book on the ‘Glorious Strike of Central government employees in July 1960’ is under preparation, on this sixtieth year of the 5days strike.
When I shifted to Delhi in 1991, our son Shaji Narayanan was 19 years and daughter Mini Narayanan 17 years old. Shaji passed B.A. from Malabar Christian College, passed M.Sc. and got job first in Brooke-Bond Company at Bangalore and later in Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), Mumbai. Mini studied in Malabar Christian College and passed B.Tech. from Regional Engineering College and joined an IT company in Bangalore. Both were activists of Students Federation of India (SFI) during their school/college days. Mini was vice-Chairperson of the College Union in REC. Shaji took active part in SFI and DYFI. He practiced table tennis in YWCA and got prizes several times.
Mini used to travel by bus to REC Chathamangalam along with her college mate and neighbor Miss Suja. In the evening when they get down at the bus stop in the evening, Suja’s father and NGO Union leader Com.Damodaran used to accompany them.
After my shift to Delhi, the entire responsibility of maintaining family fell upon Pankajam. Had to supervise children’s studies, attend office, prepare food etc. Hence she got a transfer from the Trunk Telephone Exchange, Manachira to a nearby office at Vellayil on Gandhi Road, which was very near to our home – five minutes’ walk. Hence can come home to take meals and return. After Shaji went to Bengaluru getting job, she had to do purchasing also. After marriage of Mini, she was alone at home.
My elder brother’s son V.A.Ravindran Namboodiri, who was Engineer in Electricity Department, stayed with family in the upper portion of the house for some years. Afterwards, Com.M.K.Prabhakaran, employed in Telephones stayed with wife Santha and daughters. Later Coms. P.K.Damodaran and V.Bhagyalakshmi, both employed in Telephones, stayed. This was helpful to Pankajam, who was alone.
As mentioned earlier, after retiring in August 2002, Pankajam shifted to Delhi and stayed with me. It was great relief to both of us.
Marriage of my daughter Mini with Shri P.Dilip Kumar, son of Shri K.M.Chitharanjan, former Additional Secretary in Kerala Government and Smt. Thankam staying at “Krishna Chaitanya” near Bilathikulam Temple, Kozhikode was solemnized on 29th May 2000 at “Surya Kanthi Mandapam”, Kozhikode. The engagement ceremony was held at “Kalpaka Auditorium”. I was very happy that respected elder members of my family, S/Shri M.C.V.Bhattathiripad, Advocate, Prof. V.A.Kesavan Namboodiri, A.P.Namboodiri, K.A.Vasudevan Namboodiri, V.A.P.Namboodiri and others attended the function.
Since I was at Delhi and agitations were going on against privatization of telecom services, I could not come very early to make arrangements for the marriage and personally invite all relatives, friends and colleagues. Even then, they came and blessed the newly married couple. Arrangements for the marriage, reception etc. were all made by our colleagues Comrades M.Balasubramanian, Balan Punnassery, M.P.Kunhanandan, M.K.Prabhakaran and others. After marriage, Dilip and Mini settled at Bengaluru, where both are employed in IT sector. Later purchased own flat. Daughter Arya Dilip has completed Xth standard now.
Marriage of Shaji with Sunila, daughter of Smt.Asha Hedavoo and Shri P.N.Hedavoo, Manager of Bank of India, Khandwa, Maharashtra was solemnized at Swathi Auditorium, Bengaluru on 14th May 2004. Reception was held at “Calicut Towers” in Kozhikode attended by close relatives, friends and colleagues. Later another reception was held at Khandwa, at the bride’s place. Both are employed in U.K. in IT sector and settled there. Two daughters, Saumya and Sneha, studying there.
After Shaji settled in London, Pankajam and myself visited them four times, every time staying for one month only, since the union work at Delhi did not allow outstation stay for more than that. Once in two years or so they will come to visit us. But the stay could not be extended due to children’s study and difficulty to get leave. Keeps in contact over telephone.
Most of the family members and close relatives are staying at Perincherry, near Mattanur in Kannur District.
All my brothers and sisters have expired leaving me alone. Eldest brother Prof. V.A.Kesavan Namboodiri passed away on 20th October 1999. I was in Rajasthan when I got the sad news. Brother Sankaran Namboodiri died on 4th January 1996, while I was in Delhi. Brother Parameswaran Namboodiri on 2nd January 2003 again while I was in Delhi. Eldest sister Parvathi Anterjananm died on 1st November 2005 and elder sister Sreedevi Anterjanam passed away on 28th March 2012. I was away on tour or at Delhi, when all of the passed away. Unfortunately could not see them in their last moment.
Sisters and brother of Pankajam, Smt. Visalakshy Amma, Kunhilakshmi Amma, Sathyabhama and Kumaran – all of the also expired during this period. We, the youngest of both the families, alone are the survivors.
Since being more than 25 years away at Delhi and fully engaged in union activities, we could not participate in marriages and other ceremonies in our families. About deaths, I have mentioned earlier – we could reach only for the cremation or afterwards. Trying to make up for those losses now, by contacting friends and relatives. (to be continued)
78. FAREWEL TO DELHI
I was staying in Delhi since November 1991, after election as President of E.III Union at Bhopal Conference up to Chennai AIC in 2017, wherein I vacated the office-bearer ship of BSNLEU. First stayed at Dada Ghosh Bhawan and then at BSNL staff quarters No. D-7, Telegraph Place, Gole Market. Pankajam, my wife, retired from BSNL service in 2002. Son Shaji had shifted to London and daughter Mini to Bangalore on getting employment. Pankajam came to Delhi and we again started living together from 2002.
BSNL staff quarters ( D-7) allotted to BSNLEU, Gole Market, where we were staying, was situated in the centre of the city, close to Connaught Place, Parliament, Central Secretariat, M.P.’s flats, offices of Central Trade Unions, political parties, Service unions like AIRF, NFPE, Hospitals, Railway Station etc. This enabled to meet a lot of leaders and comrades visiting Delhi from other states to attend conferences, conventions, Parliament Marches and so on. Invited many of them to the quarters for a cup of tea and discussion.
R.III Union Head Quarter was also in the same complex (D-2). Com.C.C.Pillai after becoming General Secretary R.III Union was staying there till he vacated the post and shifted to Kerala along with wife and sons Ajoy Chandran and Bijoy Chandran. Com.Bijoy helped in E.III union office for computer related matters. Com.Giriraj Singh, next GS R.III, stayed there afterwards. Two quarters in the complex were converted to BSNL Inspector Quarters, where guests could stay. Many committee meetings of BSNLCCWF, AIBDPA, Joint Forum, NFPE etc used to be held either in the quarters or the square ground in front of the quarters.
Residence had to be shifted in 2016, since the place was sold to Jharkhand Government by Centre for constructing a Guest House. The new quarters allotted to BSNLEU were behind the Bharat Sanchar Bhawan – two small quarters, instead of the big quarter at Gole Market. Used one quarter as residence. The upstairs quarter was used as office of BSNLCCWF and AIBDPA and also for stay for guests visiting from outstations. This was very close to Janpath and Connaught Place. Offices of NFTE, FNTO, BSNLMS, BTEF, AIBSNLEA, and MTNL – all very near. Wide and peaceful roads to go for morning walk without any disturbances of traffic.
My daily routine used to be to attend union office until noon, then return home for lunch. Visist Bharat Sanchar Bhawan and Sanchar Bhawan in the afternoon to meet and discuss matters with the officers. Then to Deshabhimani office for reading Deshabhimani daily and sometimes bring a copy to home. During the long years had the opportunity to meet and be friends with Comrades P.P.Aboobacker, Prabha varma, John Brittas, V.B.Parameswaran, N.S.Sajith, K.M.Vasudevan, Sajin Evujin, Prasanth and other comrades of Deshabhimani.
After vacating the post of All India President, my main job was to help the pensioners organization AIBDPA and Casual Contract Workers Federation BSNLCCWF, whose General Secretaries were out of Delhi. Also utilized the time to write the book ‘History of P and T Trade Union Movement’, by referring to old records and journals available in NFPE, RMS, Postal Union offices as also Income Tax Union Office. In fact, my continued stay after Kolkata AIC was mainly for this purpose. The book which containing the history from early days of Postal services to the bifurcation of NFPTE in to NFPE and NFTE in 1986, was published by Com.R.N.Parashar, General Secretary, P.III Union and released by Com.Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU, in the All India Conference of P.III Union held in 2017 at Bengaluru.
It has been my fortune that in fulfilling the tasks allotted to me as a union office-bearer, guidance and help was received from veteran trade union as also political stalwarts. In addition to Comrades E.M.S.Namboodiripad and A.K.Gopalan, whom I mentioned earlier, Comrades Suseela Gopalan, M.P., E.Balanandan, M.P., Basudeb Acharya M.P., Somanath Chatterjee, M.P., M.K.Pandhe, General Secretary, CITU, O.Bharathan M.P., M.P.Veerendra Kumar, M.P., N.N.Krishna Das, M.P., P.Karunakaran M.P., M.B.Rajesh M.P., P.R.Natarajan M.P.,K.K.Ragesh, M.P.,P.Rajeev M.P., Elamaram Kareem M.P., Dr.A.Sampath M.P., Sitaram Yechury M.P., Tapan Sen M.P., M.K.Pankajam, M.P., P.K.Sreemathy M.P., A.K.Padmanabhan, President, CITU, Mohammed Amin, GS CITU, Chittabrata Majumdar, GS CITU, Hemalatha, President CITU and many other Members of Parliament gave help and advice as also took our issues in the Parliament for settlement. My thanks are due to all of themAfter vacating the post of All India President, my main job was to help the pensioners organization AIBDPA and Casual Contract Workers Federation BSNLCCWF, whose General Secretaries were out of Delhi. Also utilized the time to write the book ‘History of P and T Trade Union Movement’, by referring to old records and journals available in NFPE, RMS, Postal Union offices as also Income Tax Union Office. In fact, my continued stay after Kolkata AIC was mainly for this purpose. The book which containing the history from early days of Postal services to the bifurcation of NFPTE in to NFPE and NFTE in 1986, was published by Com.R.N.Parashar, General Secretary, P.III Union and released by Com.Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU, in the All India Conference of P.III Union held in 2017 at Bengaluru
During the period from 1991 to 2017 while functioning at CHQ Delhi and on tour, came in to contact with thousands and thousands of workers and leaders of the Telecom / BSNL movement in all the circles/states. It is these comrades who worked day and night to make the organization strong as also make successful the programmes including Committee meetings, Conferences, conventions, dharnas, demonstrations, strikes and what not. While on tour, though usually stayed in Inspector Quarters, in many places our comrades made a point that I stay at their home, enjoy the home prepared meals and meet their family. Honoured, given presents and gifts everywhere. Some comrades will be with me from the time I got down from the train till I leave the station ensuring comfortable arrangements at each and every stage. The love, affection and camaraderie of these comrades can never be forgotten. Veteran and young leaders who sacrificed much for the workers and the organization were everywhere who built and strengthened the union. I thank them all for their great sacrifice and dedication for the union.
.During the period from 1991 to 2017 while functioning at CHQ Delhi and on tour, came in to contact with thousands and thousands of workers and leaders of the Telecom / BSNL movement in all the circles/states. It is these comrades who worked day and night to make the organization strong as also make successful the programmes including Committee meetings, Conferences, conventions, dharnas, demonstrations, strikes and what not. While on tour, though usually stayed in Inspector Quarters, in many places our comrades made a point that I stay at their home, enjoy the home prepared meals and meet their family. Honoured, given presents and gifts everywhere. Some comrades will be with me from the time I got down from the train till I leave the station ensuring comfortable arrangements at each and every stage. The love, affection and camaraderie of these comrades can never be forgotten. Veteran and young leaders who sacrificed much for the workers and the organization were everywhere who built and strengthened the union. I thank them all for their great sacrifice and dedication for the union.
It will be impossible to name even all the leading comrades who were in the forefront and who helped in the functioning of the CHQ. I wish to name at least some of them, whose names come to my mind, as a token of appreciation of their dedicated work. It does not mean that I have forgotten the others or they are of lesser importance. My memory also may be playing tricks. Some of them are no more. Kindly excuse me if names of some important leaders have been left out in the following list. Comrades M.N.Reddy, P.Asokababu, J.Sampath Rao, D.Nagamanyam, Ramachandrudu, V.Sambasiva Rao, K.Ramadevi (A.P.), J.Bhattacharjee, J.N.Mishra, S.N.Sarma, Bijoy Deka (Assam), S.P.Kalairajan, Ratnambal (A & N Islands), B.P.Singh, R.P.Sharma, Sakunthala Gond, Sunithi Choudhary (Bihar), R.S.Sagar (ALTTC), S.C.Bhattacharjee, Ajay Menderkar, Atmapoojya, R.L.Shreevastava, P.N.Parate R.S.Bhatt (Chhattisgarh), A.C.Shah, R.T.Sharma, J.M.Prajapathy, A.K.Hindocha, M.K.Dave, Chaniyara M.B., D.K.Bakutra (Gujarat), J.S.Dahiya, O.P.Khatak, M.S.Kadian, Naresh Kumar, Kuldeep Singh (Haryana), H.L.Syal, Amar Singh Kaundal (H.P.), A.R.Tak, Nizar Ahamed, Bashir Ahmed Khan (J & K), Sudarshan Pande, Naresh Lal ( Jharkhand), M.Sadanand, B.Narayana Rao, Harischandra Rao, R.G.Bhandari, P.Appaji, C.K.Gundanna, G.B.Salakki, H.S.Prakash, Muddiah, M.C.Balakrishna, H.V.Sudharshan, T.S.Krishna moorthy, Irfan Pasha, Keshav (Karnataka), S.R.Nayak, S.C.Shrivastava, G.J.Sheikh, H.S.Thakur, Jagdish Singh, Sriram Tiwari, Prakash Sharma (M.P.), W.L.Tundam, D.K.Nerkar, A.A.Sheikh, B.P.Petkar, D.R.Hiwarkar, T.D.Hari Ramani, G.Matpathi, N.K. Nalawade, John Verghese (Maharashtra) N.Chakraborty, Prabir Dutta, Swapan Chakraborty, M.B.Singh, Mrs T.Walling (North East), R.K.Kohli, H.L.Makkar, Hari Om Sharma, M.L.Tiwari, Chhidu Singh, R.S.Chauhan, (Delhi), P.R.Das, A.Dhupal, Sahdev Biswal, S.C.Mohanty,Sreebhara Mallick, P.K.Jena, B.K.Naik (Odisha), Gurcharan Singh, H.S.Dhillon, R.L.Moudgil, Balbir Singh, Balwinder Singh (Punjab), S.R.Swarankar, A.N.Vajpaye, R.K.Chathurvedi, K.P.Sharma,Vijay Singh, K.M.Ojha, S.L.Ojha, Pyarelal Sharma, Ashok Pareek, S.K.Anand, M.K.Nagpal (Rajasthan), Mohammed Tahir (TF, Jabalpur), R.G.Thamankar, K.S.Yadav, S.L.Tendulkar, S.D.Choudhary (TF Mumbai), J.Renganathan, P.Abhimanyu, S.Mohandoss, A.K.Veera Raghavan, P.Ramasamy, N.Gopalakrishnan, D.Gopalakrishnan, S.Chellappa, R.Rajasekharan, R.Gunasekharan, Babu Radhakrishnan, K.Govindarj, P.Manickamoorthy, C.K.Narasimhan, N.Kuppusamy, M.Murugiah, V.P.Indira, E.Gopal, S.Killivalavan ( T.Nadu and Chennai), Arun Sarkar, Adhir Kumar Sen(TS Kolkata) Sisir Bhattacharjee, Sujit Chatterjee, S.Siddique, Om Praksh Singh (TF Kolkata), R.S.Yadav, K.D.M.Tripathi, O.P.Verma, R.S.Fauzdar, N.K.Rawat, V.K.Sharma, Upender Singh Teotia (U.P), P.B.Dhobal, P.C.Kandpal, K.S.Soun (Uttrakhand), Moni Bose, A.K.Bhattacharjee, B.K.Goswami, Shibdas Banerjee, Anima Banerjee, K.D.Mukherjee, Debashish Dutta Gupta, Gouri Haldar, Supriya Mitra, Mihi Dasgupta, Swastika Dasgupta, Saibal Sen Gupta, Animesh Mitra, Biplab Das (W.Bengal and Kolkata), P.V.Chandrasekharan, K.G.Jayaraj, R.Muralidharan Nair, K.Mohanan, M.P.Kunhanandan, A.V.Kuriakose, M.G.S.Kurup, Pratap Kumar, Santhosh Kumar, M.Vijay Kumar, P.R.Parameswaran (Kerala). After 25 full years, I am leaving Delhi. Delhi comrades, office staff – all mentioned about a send-off, but I discouraged them it as unnecessary. However a very friendly, comradely reception was arranged at the Delhi Circle Union office, which was participated by leaders of all the BSNL unions and close comrades. Some from the nearby circles also. We had tea and snacks and the leaders of BSNLEU and sister unions spoke. I thanked them all. Com.R.S.Chouhan, Circle Secretary BSNLEU and R.Prabhakar, Circle Secretary, AIBDPA made all arrangements. Within one or two days met the workers of CMD office as also officers including CMD BSNL. Went and met leaders and comrades at A.K.G.Bhawan, Deshabhimani, AIDWA, V.P. House, CITU and other union offices. Met leaders of Confederation and also NFPE and took leave. Met neighbours of the staff quarters and informed about shifting to home at Kozhiko
After 25 full years, I am leaving Delhi. Delhi comrades, office staff – all mentioned about a send-off, but I discouraged them it as unnecessary. However a very friendly, comradely reception was arranged at the Delhi Circle Union office, which was participated by leaders of all the BSNL unions and close comrades. Some from the nearby circles also. We had tea and snacks and the leaders of BSNLEU and sister unions spoke. I thanked them all. Com.R.S.Chouhan, Circle Secretary BSNLEU and R.Prabhakar, Circle Secretary, AIBDPA made all arrangements.
Within one or two days met the workers of CMD office as also officers including CMD BSNL. Went and met leaders and comrades at A.K.G.Bhawan, Deshabhimani, AIDWA, V.P. House, CITU and other union offices. Met leaders of Confederation and also NFPE and took leave. Met neighbours of the staff quarters and informed about shifting to home at Kozhikode. Took farewell from Coms.P.Abhimanyu, GS, BSNLEU, Swapan Chakraborty, Deputy General Secretary, T.A.Biju, Office Secretary and office staff Comrades C.Pradeesh, Driver Baiju Raj, Harish, Raju (K.G.Bose Bhawan) and others.
How to carry all the books purchased, clothes including woolen coats, Union magazines, gifts received from friends and comrades etc when shifting? It was possible only to take personal things like dresses, important books and a few gifts which have special significance. They were packed in big card board boxes and sent by parcel through lorry service to Kozhikode. All other things arranged and kept in the almirahs in the quarters. Coms. T.A.Biju, Baiju Raju and com. Ramesh Chandra Sharma and his brother helped in packing and dispatching.
On 17th February 2017, started by flight from Delhi to Bengaluru. Stayed a few days at daughter’s place. Left for Kozhikode by bus and reached on 28th. Started staying at Flat No. S -8, Alhind Elite Apartments, Vandipetta, Nadakkavu, Kozhikode,owned by my son, who is employed in London and settled there. (to be continued).
77. JOURNEYS, EXPERIENCES (3)
It was early 1990s. Started from Dada Ghosh Bhawan, union HQ, very early morning to Delhi Railway station to catch the 06.00 hours Jaipur train. December and very cold. Had only returned late last night from another tour. Got an auto riksha, but there was another passenger. Driver told that he is also to Railway station. After about 10 minutes driver stopped auto and got down. We also got down. Driver told that petrol is almost finished and have to be filled from next petrol pump. He asked me to get in first so that cold will be less. Other passenger sat on the side.
Driver asked me to pay Rs. 200/ as charge stating that he had to fill petrol. I took my purse and told him that the charge is too much and that I have paid only Rs.60- last night when coming from the same railway station. All of a sudden, he snatched my purse and took Rs. 200/ from it. When I strongly protested, my co-passenger told me to wait till we reach the station, where complaint can be made. I had thought that he will support me. Immediately I understood the situation. I was trapped inside the auto. Auto turned to a side road which was narrow and hardly with any traffic. Got a bit panicky, but I did not show. Driver stopped the auto, probably to pass urine. I used the opportunity, pushed the young man next to me and was on the road. I started running to the opposite side. Fortunately they did not follow. After about 10 minutes, I reached the main road, got another auto. Told the driver what had happened and requested to rush to the station to catch the train. I told him that I have got only Rs. 10 with me. He said no problem. On the way there was a Police Constable on traffic duty. I told him the incident asking to inform 100. (Mobile telephones have not been introduced). He said that he is on traffic duty and kept silent. The auto driver took me to the Railway station. The train was almost to start. He did not accept any money from me. I boarded the moving train and left for Jaipur.
Once got in to a wrong flight. Had gone to attend TEAN Conference in Nepal. While returning I was late to reach Kathmandu airport from the local town where the conference was held. Somehow managed to get boarding pass and ran to the boarding place where the airhostess was waiting for me. After checking, I boarded the flight to Delhi. No vacant seat in economy class. Put me in a seat in executive class without extra charges. After some time, a Flight Attendant came and asked whether V.A.N.Namboodiri is there. When I stood up, he told me that this is not my flight and that I have to board another flight! I got down, boarded the nearby plane and rested peacefully watching the Himalayan ranges. On enquiry found out that there were two flights to Delhi almost at the same time due to heavy rush of passengers.
While boarding a train in midnight when returning from Lucknow to Delhi, my mobile phone was stolen. Coms. K.R.Yadav, R.K.Mishra and other comrades who accompanied me to station had already left. When I complained to the police constable nearby, he advised me to go to the first platform and complain to the police station there. There was no time, I got in and the train started. I was sleeping when a police constable woke me up and asked to follow him to the ‘Police Station’, in next compartment. Three police constables, including one Head Constable, were there, and it was the ‘Police Station’ in the train. They asked me how and when the mobile phone was lost and I told the details. They wanted me to give it in writing. I came back to my seat, took a paper, wrote the complaint and handed over to the police. They wanted it to be written in Hindi instead of in English. Again, came back, written in Hindi and handed over. They said that they will enquire and inform, if found out. A copy of the FIR was given to me. All these took a few hours and I was awake till reached Delhi. After reaching Delhi, purchased another mobile phone, went to BSNL office, showed the FIR and got a new sim card free. I was advised that it is always necessary to note down the EMI of the mobile instrument so that it also can be blocked so that it could not be used by anybody.
Went to Kashmir many times for attending Conferences and visited the beautiful places including Dal Lake, Gulmarg, Mughal Gardens and many other places of interest. But always stayed at the residence of Com. Nizar Ahmed, Circle Secretary. Though reservation will be made at Inspection Quarters, stay at home due to security concerns. Dinner also there. Com.A.R.Tak, former Circle Secretary, also used to stay there. Though security and Military are deployed at Telephone Exchange, IQ etc. it is really not safe. Anything can happen any time. Home was always safe.
From telephone exchange to Srinagar Airport. There was a bomb blast nearby and CRPF was thoroughly checking all vehicles on the route to airport. About 20 vehicles in front of my taxi and no way that I will reach airport in time. Got down along with Com. A.R.Tak and walked till the police check up and crossed it. Requested driver of the car which was moving after check up to give a lift to the airport. He agreed, I got in and reached airport. Since my ticket was not confirmed, went to the counter where about a dozen people were in queue. Told that my flight was due, was allowed to go to counter and got the ticket confirmed. Just before reaching the entry gate, the young man who gave me the lift, requested me to take one of his suitcase, since he had more luggage than allowed for a passenger. I was worried. Without knowing what is in the suitcase, how can I carry it? I agreed since he helped me earlier. But when reached the entry gate, the security objected stating that it is not my luggage. He had seen the luggage being handed over to me. I gave the bag to its owner with relief and entered airport. When met him in the flight, asked what happened. He told that he had to pay extra charges for the excess weight. I was sorry that I doubted him.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are endowed with natural beauty, with the blue sea all around. Many small islands. Visited four times in connection with conference, tours etc. Once, went along with Pankajam. A place with people living in extra ordinary harmony and secular concept. People belonging to almost all states, mainly from Bengal and T.Nadu. Extradited from India by British rulers for participation in freedom struggle.
The Cellular Jail, where the freedom fighters were kept. You can even now see the gallows in which they were hanged. Names of freedom fighters put in marble, who became martyrs. Memorials to Martyrs. Ross Island, the previous capital, which is gradually sinking in to sea. Visited many of the small islands.
Coms. S.P.Kalairajan, Circle Secretary, and Ratnambal, Asst. Circle Secretary, made all arrangements for convenient stay and tours. Though of Tamil origin, both know Malayalam. Most people of A & N islands know many Indian languages. Ratnambal working in another small island. Half hour journey through sea by boat. At the time of Sunami, the ground floor of the exchange completely went down and was fully covered by earth. Escaped since it was a Sunday and she did not go to office.
There are many beautiful places to visit in all parts of the country. Heritage buildings, historical places, rivers, hills, temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches etc. etc. India, a vast country with different climates, languages and what not. Unity in diversity. Within the 25 years of stay in Delhi, visited almost all districts in the country. The love and affection shown by the leaders and workers in all these places is a cherished memory. They were my inspiration and strength to face all adversities.
Hundreds and hundreds of difficult, interesting and inspiring journeys. A big volume can be written, when time allows. Not going into more experiences here.
Air travel is different from train journey in many ways. Sometimes, you may not even speak a single word with your next seat passenger. Train journey is different. Passengers interact with each other, talk about a lot of issues, get acquainted and sometimes become lifelong friends.
Situation changed after introduction of A.C.Coaches and high speed trains. Whether night or day, passengers like to sleep or rest in the pleasant coolness. Or completely engaged with mobile and the various services it can provide. One cannot see outside clearly due to the stained glasses. Train journeys have changed a lot. It does not have the closeness and friendly atmosphere that existed earlier. I may be wrong also. (To be continued).
- JOURNEYS, EXPERIENCES (2)
A train journey in RMS compartment. From Patna, capital of Bihar, with Circle President of BSNLEU. Trains blocked and unduly delayed for many hours due to rail accident. Heavy rush in all compartments. Unable to get in. Went to RMS compartment and got in with permission of our comrades. Two berths in the compartment were given to us. Train started at 19.00 hours or so after much delay. Just before starting of the train, a policeman came and demanded the staff that two berths be given to a police officer and family. No berth, told the staff. Policeman pointed at us and said that we are not staff. Train moved on. In the next station, the policeman came with TTE and RPF. We did not want any trouble to the RMS staff and went out through the back door and got in another compartment. We understood later that the police officer had played the game to travel with family, without purchasing tickets.
1970s. Travelling to Madras from Kozhikode by First Class to attend JCM meeting. First class allowed to attend JCM meetings. A.C.coach not introduced. Five persons in the four berth coupe. I did not have reservation. When time came to sleep, I took a bed sheet, spread it on the floor and was going to lie down. Two of the passengers were British – one man and one woman – may be husband and wife, maybe not. They told me that they will sleep in one berth and gave me one berth. Myself surprised and very happy. Expressed thanks to them.
When returning from Madras next day it seemed that I am alone in the First Class four berth coupe. In the last moment lot of people with bags, suit cases etc. entered, placed them and went away except one exceptionally charming youngster. I recognized Prem Nazir, the famous cinema actor, as my co-passenger. Spoke to him and got acquainted. There were rumours at that time that he was going to enter politics as in the case of Tamil actors. I enquired to him. He said no proposal to enter politics. He was reading the many magazines he had brought with him till very late in the night. There were lots of people to receive him at Kozhikode Railway station. Left after bidding him farewell. Very happy for the chance to meet the famous actor.
Another time travelling to Kozhikode from Delhi. No reservation, in waiting list. However, got in the three tier sleeper compartment. When all started to sleep, I spread bed sheet to lie down on the floor. At that time, the 4 – 5 year old girl who was in the middle berth told her mother that she will sleep with her and that her berth be given to me. Got the berth and slept comfortably. Got acquainted with the family, Mr. Cyril Castra, Mrs. Flora Castra and Fiona and became friends. Two years back attended Fiona’s marriage at Mangaluru. Last year Mr and Mrs. Castra visited us at Kozhikode. A life-long family friendship.
While functioning as Circle Secretary of the union in the last few years of 1970s, used to come almost every week, or second week to Kozhikode to be with family. Since Circle Office will not be functioning on Saturday and Sunday, the journey will be usually in the night train on Friday. MLAs, going to their constituencies after the assembly session will be there. They also used to travel by three tier sleeper. Once I got the berth near where Comrades E.K.Nayanar (later Chief Minister of Kerala) and other MLAs were there. Socialist leaders, Comrades Arangil Sreedharan (former M.P.) and P.I.Ittoop were there. Politics, jokes – everything in discussion. Nayanar’s berth was middle one. When going to sleep, Com.M.V.Raghavan M.L.A., gave warning that Com.Nayanar should not be allowed to sleep in the middle berth. Why? He told that on earlier occasion when going to Calcutta, Nayanar was sleeping in middle berth. In the midnight there was a heavy ‘thud’ sound and when all woke up saw Com. Nayanar on the floor having fallen from the berth. Everybody including Nayanar laughed. May be true, maybe not. However, Nayanar slept on the lower berth that night.
Membership verification tour in Bihar. Com.B.P.Singh, Circle secretary, and a few other comrades. After attending meetings in 2-3 places, travelling in train to Patna, where the meeting was fixed at 17.00 hours. Train late and expected only to reach one hour late. Continuous calls from comrades in Patna, enquiring when we will reach. We were in tension. Many workers may leave in case the meeting starts late. Being winter season, it was dark by 1700 hours itself. Fortunately the train slowed down before reaching Patna Station due to not getting signal. The meeting place was nearby and all started getting down. I was last and by the time I was at the door, the train has started moving. I jumped down with bag etc. though I could not clearly see outside. It was in fresh cowdung that I fell. Pants, Shirts, bag – all covered by cow dung. After cleaning the shirt etc. attended and addressed the meeting. Had I fell down backwards towards the train? But at that time, attending the meeting was the only thing in mind.
At Delhi Airport, on way to attend Central Working Committee Meeting, at Pune. Com.Chittabrata Majumdar, General Secretary, CITU, who was to inaugurate the meeting with me. When waiting for arrival of the flight after check-in, all of a sudden he became ill. Even difficult to get up and walk. Airport staff brought a wheel chair and along with him boarded the flight through the lift system. He was carried in the wheel chair and a seat arranged in the first row itself. I requested the young airhostess to adjust an adjacent seat to me so as to be of assistance to him. But she was in a hurry and moved away. Sometime after the flight started, I went to the airhostess and asked why she did not adjust one seat to me. May be I was a little sharp. What happened next was unexpected. She started crying and told me that she did not hear. ‘This is my first flight. Kindly don’t complain’, she added. I was worried, apologized and went to my seat.
In the 1960s, there was no direct train to Delhi from Kerala. One has to travel and catch the train, mostly GT Express, from there. Reservation can be done only from Madras by standing in queue before the booking counter. There will be long queues and once while in Bombay, I have seen people in queue for two or three days waiting to book the ticket. Same thing at Madras also. Hence we used to rush in to the ordinary compartment as soon as it arrives in the station. Sometimes you will not get even a seat to sit till you reach Delhi. Once, unable to stand continuously, got down at Jhansi along with Com.K.Bhaskaran Nair, union leader, who was with me. Put luggage in cloakroom, bathed, visited Jhansi Fort and continued journey to Delhi. On ordinary ticket, one can travel in any train without reservation. (to be continued).
Once got in to a wrong flight. Had gone to attend TEAN Conference in Nepal. I was late to reach the Kathmandu airport from Sitapur where the conference was held. Somehow managed to get boarding pass, ran to the embarkment breaking the queue, and got to the boarding place where the airhostess was waiting for me. After checking, I boarded the flight to Delhi. No seat for me in the economy class. Got an executive seat without extra charges. After some time a steward came and asked
75. JOURNEYS, EXPERIENCES (1)
A good part of my life has been spent on journeys for attending conferences, meetings etc. At first it was limited to Kerala. As Circle Secretary of E.III Union, toured almost all parts of Kerala, wherever there were units of the union. In each tour could meet new comrades and friends from not only P and T, but also from other sections of employees, which enriched knowledge and widened friends circle.
During this period, visited many places in nearby states, T.Nadu and Karnataka, on invitation by the branches / divisions there. Being Assistant General Secretary of the union enabled such tours.
AS General Secretary of E.III Union from 1991, as General Secretary of BSNL Employees Union from 2001 and as President from 2010 till 2015, toured almost all states and districts for participating in Conferences, for strike preparations, membership verification campaigns etc. About 15 to 20 days of tour every month. However, this is a task that has to be managed by leaders of All India organisations. In addition, attended many All India Conferences of sister organisations, Seminars, Conventions of Central Trade Unions etc. Attended CITU All India Conferences as Fraternal Delegate. As a result, could meet many veteran leaders and discuss with them issues concerned with the movement.
Most of the journeys were by train. No problem, since, tickets are reserved in advance. But even if no reservation, journey has to be undertaken to attend meetings already fixed. On such occasions, one will have to travel hours together even without getting a seat to sit. During the period when E.III/E.III N union was denied its rightful recognition and both the administration and recognized Federation, NFTE, were witch hunting and attacking the union, its leaders and workers, it was only the whole hearted support and exemplary loyalty of the workers that kept us alive and functioning.
I can never forget those many occasions when comrades with union red flag waiting in each station indefinitely for the train to arrive (trains were usually late), raising slogans of welcome and handing over home-prepared food within the few minutes the train will stop in the station. There will be only time to exchange a few words, but that was more than sufficient to pass important news, hand over journals and books and then get in to the train. Knowing well my habit of drinking tea very often, one of them will bring tea. When train starts, again raising of slogans. The food they brought will be shared with other passengers, as you get it from comrades in more than one station.
Hectic tour during Member ship Verification. Though central office-bearers will be given charge of separate circles, all Circles will insist the General Secretary to visit at least few important centres in their circles. Could not refuse, as the issue is membership Verification. Minimum three meetings in a day, sometimes four, in separate divisions. Except in a few circles like Kerala, the districts are large and will take minimum four – five hours to reach the next one. Food in the moving vehicle, sometimes biscuits and fruits, sometimes roti and subji, according to availability. Conditions of many roads were very poor and two-three hours travel will make you extremely tired.
In Circles like Rajasthan, Bihar, M.P. etc, it may take even five to ten hours covering a vast distance. In night journey, difficult to get even tea, as shops will be closed. Once travelling through M.P., the van driver stopped at the residence of his friend at about 02.00 am in the night and woke up them. They did not show any displeasure. I was surprised to find that they were extremely happy to serve us cup of tea and biscuits.
You can see ‘dhabas’ on the road side. Food and snacks will be available. If it is night, all of us will lie down in the charpayi (cots) put there immediately on getting down after ordering food. When the hot food is ready, will consume the same and continue travel. The car or tempo will be full and there will not be even space to stretch your legs. I did not have much difficulty as I used to be given the front seat near the driver.
Immediately on getting down, the comrades waiting there will take over my luggage, bundle of books, journal etc. till reaching the conference/meeting place. Once when went to Agra, one comrade took me in his car along with my suit case. He dropped me at the meeting place. Suit case left in the car. When returning, the person with the suit case was missing. Comrades told that he has left to visit his family member in his village who was hospitalized after an accident. But just before the train started, got the suit case back.
Once in Andhra we could not get reservation. Comrades P.Asoka Babu, Asst. General Secretary, J.Sampath Rao, Circle Secretary and myself sat on newspaper spread near the closed door and spent time till morning.
Once got in to the wrong train while returning from Khammam after Andhra Circle Conference. Had reserved ticket for GT Express to Delhi due at night 12.00 hours. Train was already in the station, by the time we reached there. Comrade Sampath Rao and others who were with me put my bags, suit cases etc in the train, I got in and the train moved. Within few minutes I realised that it was not my train and that GT Express was yet to come. Pulled the chain, but no response. I had to reach Delhi to attend a meeting with Secretary DOT next day. The train stopped in the dark midnight in a very small station. I got down and with the help of the Guard of my train and the young Asst. Station Master, who alone was in the station, managed to get in the coming GT Express by the train getting slowed down and stopping for a second or so. Reached Delhi in time to attend the meeting.
While coming back from Manipur after attending a meeting, military personnel blocked us on the border to Nagaland stating that one cannot cross to Nagaland in the night due to obvious dangers. We had to reach Arunachal Pradesh next day. On our continued insistence they allowed us to cross after noting our names and addresses and taking a declaration that we are responsible for any danger that may happen. Fortunately, there was no untoward incident.
Being rainy season, we were moving slowly on our journey to Arunachal Pradesh. All of a sudden, we could see about half a kilo meter in front, the landslide, huge rocks and mud falling and blocking the road. Had we been two minutes earlier, do not know what could have happened. We returned on the road we came.
A similar incident happened while on tour in Kerala. Proceeding to T.Nadu through Nilambur. Road completely blocked by landslide. Getting information that another bus is on the other side, we somehow walked over to the other side. Got bus. Within ten minutes, an incoming Jeep with NFTE flag stopped the bus. Along with them proceeded to the destination. Reached in time for the meeting.
Had gone to Gujarat along with my wife for a tour to see places and also to attend some union meetings. Tickets booked for Rajadhani from Ahmedabad to Delhi. It was a long journey in the car and by the time we reached railway station, train was ready in the platform. Since our tickets in waiting list was not confirmed, TTE told us that we cannot board the train, as rules do not provide for waitlisted passengers to get in to Rajadhani. No immediate train to Delhi. Went to the Airport. Tried for ticket to Delhi. Rs. One lakh for one ticket, that too only next day. On enquiry, found out that the rush is due to blockade of all roads in Haryana by some agitations. Booked tickets to Bengaluru for Rs.6,000 each and proceeded. Daughter and family very happy at this unexpected visit. We were also happy.
When rupturing from a meeting in Mizoram, many cycle rikshas on the side of road. The drivers had covered their head and face like terrorists. Enquired with comrades who were with us. We were told that they are well educated youths, that they are unemployed and had taken this job, but do not want their identity to be known. Victims of unemployment.
When returning from Maharashtra, I was given the reservation ticket purchased by comrades there. After getting in to the train, when checked, found out that it was a concession ticket for senior citizen. At that time concession was available for those senior citizens of 65 and above age. (Later it was reduced to 60). I was short of a few days for 65. I felt very embarrassed. The TTE came, checked ticket and identity card. He looked me and gave charming smile and passed on. In that smile, everything was there, that he had found out my lapse, but do not want to punish this white-haired senior citizen, whom he might have thought innocent in the matter, as truly it was. (to be continued)
74. INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, FOREIGN TOURS
WFTU Congress, Havana (Cuba)
I was fortunate to participate in the 15th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held at Havana, capital city of Socialist Cuba, from 1st to 4th of December 2005. Due to ideological differences, CITU and some other trade unions were not participating in a few earlier conferences. It was on the understanding that a change is expected, that 60 delegates from India, representing CITU, AITUC, TUCC, UTUC and Independent Federations participated.
First destination of the flight from Delhi was Jordan. One day stay at Amman. Along with comrades Elamaram Karim, K.K.N.Kutty, C.C.Pillai and other delegates visited Dead Sea, ancient city of Petro, Roman’s Amphi Theatre etc. Then to Havana via Barcelona. We were received and accommodated in a convenient hotel by Cuban hosts.
More than one thousand delegates from 71 countries participated in the Congress. 60 from India. Serious speeches and discussions. I spoke on the issues faced by Indian telecom sector. The ideological and tactical issues were discussed and settled. Comrade Mohammed Azooz (Syria) was elected as President and Comrade George Mavarikose (Greece) as Secretary General. Com.M.K.Pandhe (India) was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents.
It was announced that legendary revolutionary leader and Cuban President Comrade Fidel Castro will address the Congress. Though he had reached the place, due to certain security concerns, he did not address. Lost the opportunity to meet him in person and hear his inspiring speech.
The organizers arranged a visit to an important hospital and showed the treatment facilities. Cuba has one of the best health facilities in the world. It provides free medical studies to students of many countries.
Visited the union office of Telecom Union there. Union leaders came to the hotel where we were staying and took us to their office. Comrdes C.C.Pillai (NFPE) and V.V.Prasannakumari (Working Women) also were with me. Union leaders explained their functioning, problems etc to us. They know only their official language Spanish and we only English. Hence it was with the help of a translator that the discussion took place. Gave them some presents, which we had brought from India.
When we expressed our wish to visit the city, they sent the translator with us. She was a Professor of English in the university there. She took us to the beautiful beach, market etc. Visited the historic boat ‘Granma’ in which Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and other revolutionaries reached Cuban shores at the time of revolution.
While returning, the connection flight from Amman had already left, as our flight from Havana was a bit late. Hence went to Tunis in Africa and from there to Delhi. (Articles on Cuban journey in detail have been published in BSNL Crusader, Journal of BSNLEU Kerala Circle and Bank Workers Forum, the Journal of BEFI).
TUI (Public Services & Allied Workers) Congress, Johannesburg
Participated in the Tenth Congress of the Trade Union International (Public Services & Allied Workers) held at Johannesburg, South Africa from 20th to 22nd March 2006. Comrades S.K.Vyas, K.K.N.Kutty and C.C.Pillai were there. There were representatives from Bank Unions also. TUI (PS&AW) represents Government and Public service employees all over the world and is affiliated to WFTU. I reported about the telecom sector in India and the sustained struggles organised.
Visited Johannesburg city, Ashram started by Gandhiji and his statue and connected institutions. The inspiring memories of Gandhiji’s fight for justice to Indian workers remembered.
TUI (Pensioners & Retirees) Congress at Barcelona, Spain
The formation Congress of Trade Union International (Pensioners & Retirees), affiliated to WFTU was held at Barcelona, Spain in 2014. Attended as a delegate of AIBDPA. The issues of pensioners and retirees were discussed in detail and it was decided to form TUI(P&R). I spoke about the issues of pensioners in India and submitted a detailed report. I was elected as a Member of the Technical Committee.
As General Secretary of BSNL Employees Union, visited Nepal four times on the invitation of Telecom Employees Association of Nepal (TEAN) to their annual conferences. As mentioned earlier, BSNLEU and TEAN have close bonds and attended each other’s conferences. Still continues the comradely relations.
TEAN represents all section of employees in the Nepal Communications, except the Directors, unlike in India where executives and non-executives have different unions. One representative of the recognized union will be in Director Board. Workers’ Participation in Management. Functioning of TEAN is very systematic and progressive. There is one more union in the Nepal Communications.
When I visited Nepal to attend meetings of TUI (P and R), office-bearers of TEAN invited me to their office and honoured me. Once visited Nepal along with Pankjam and toured Kathmandu, heritage temples, old city and other places. All arrangements were made by TEAN Comrades.
Went to London four times with wife Pankajam to visit our son Shaji and family and stayed one month each time. Visited many historic places in and around London during these stays.
In 2010 August visited the tomb of Karl Marx, the greatest philosopher, revolutionary and author of ‘Communist Manifesto’, ‘Das Capital’ etc, at the High Gate Cemetery in London. The cemetery covers a very big area. Karl Marx passed away on 14th March 1883 while he was staying in London and was buried in High Gate cemetery. The tomb was in very interior part of the cemetery. It was later shifted to a better place with his statue so that the visitors can easily reach there. His daughter is also buried nearby.
There were some youths from the Caribbean Islands and from Russia when we visited. We got acquainted and they took our photo with the tomb in the background. It was a great moment of life to have been able to visit the place. It is in this cemetery that South African freedom fighter Mohammed Dadoo, English Novelist Elliot George and Claudia Vera Jones are buried. Next day visited Marx Memorial Library, which is having many books and memorials connected with Marx.
Next time visited Scotland which is endowed with natural beauty. Visited tomb of Famous Poet William Wordsworth. Visited Paris and other places in France as also the Walt Disney Park.
Visiting new places is always a matter of joy. (To be continued).
73. ALL INDIA BSNL DOT PENSIONERS ASSOCIATION (AIBDPA)
Number of pensioners and retirees in Central government and BSNL has been increasing continuously, while the number of employees is reduced drastically due to non-recruitment even in justified and sanctioned posts.
Pensioners retired from BSNL faced a lot of complicated issues. Though it was assured at the time of absorption from DOT to BSNL, that government will pay the pension, problem was created clubbing it with the contributions to be made by BSNL to DOT on taxes, licence fees etc. Government was reluctant to grant Pension Revision based on Pay revision in BSNL. Though there were organizations for central government pensioners, it was difficult for them to deal with the complicated problems of BSNL pensioners. As such, it became necessary to form an association for BSNL pensioners. It will also help in bringing more retirees to the pensioners’ organization. After discussing at various levels, BSNLEU took the initiative to form such an organization for BSNL pensioners. Decided to hold a National Convention of pensioners.
The Pensioners Convention was held on 21st October 2009 at Garhwal Bhawan New Delhi, presided by senior Comrades A.K.Bhattacharjee, P.V.Chandrasekharan and J.N.Mishra. As the organizer, I heartily welcomed all and presented the objective of holding the convention and the problems of BSNL and DOT pensioners. Com.M.K.Pandhe, President CITU, inaugurated the convention and appreciated the organisers for taking the correct decision. Com.S.K.Vyas, veteran leader and Secretary General of National co-ordination Committee of Pensioners Association, greeted and gave valuable guidance. After detailed discussion by the delegates, the new organization, All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association (AIBDPA), was formed. Pensioners’ problems were discussed in detail and resolutions adopted.
When the time came for election of office-bearers, many comrades, including senior leaders, compelled me to accept the post of General Secretary. With humility I told them that since I am the General Secretary of BSNLEU, it will not be proper for me to become the General Secretary of the pensioners’ organization also. Com. A.K.Bhattacharjee was elected as President and Com.K.G.Jayaraj as General Secretary. I was elected as Advisor and Com.P.V.Chandrasekharan as Patron.
Within no time AIBDPA won the confidence of the pensioners and membership increased. Not only retired non-executives, but retired executives and even senior officers became members. It started taking up the problems of both BSNL as well DOT pensioners. AIBDPA was able to intervene effectively and got the issues of 78% IDA Relief, withdrawal of 60%-40% condition for payment of government pension etc. settled.
After the formation conference, All India Conferences were held at Kannur, Tirupati and Kolkata with massive participation of pensioners. I was re-elected as Advisor along with Comrades P.V.Chandrasekharan as Patron, A.K.Bhattacharjee as President and K.G.Jayaraj as General Secretary.
Within a short time Circle and Divisional branches could be formed in almost all the circles. Many comrades who had earlier been leaders in the service unions took responsibility in the pensioners association.
Government is taking a step-motherly attitude to the problems of the pensioners, probably because they cannot go on strike and interrupt the services. But the authorities forget that they are senior citizens and can very much influence the people. They also forget that it is with the hard work of these persons that the services were effectively maintained for years.
One of the major beneficial changes after the Second World War (1939 – 45) was the recognition accorded to the pensioners. Most of the pensioners in the developed countries were war veterans and who sacrificed everything for the war. New rules for pension, family pension, pension revision etc. were introduced. The Supreme Court judgment on 17-12-1982 in D.S.Nakara & others Vs. Union of India case stating that ‘Pension is neither a bounty nor a matter of grace depending upon the sweet will of the employer’ and that ‘Pension is not an ex-gratia payment, but it is a payment for past service rendered’ established that pension is a fundamental right and not a gratis given to the pensioners.
But reactionary changes started after introduction of neo-liberal policies. The central government started to change pension rules. Defined Statutory Pension Scheme was changed to New Pension Scheme (NPS), which is fully against the interests of pensioners. Those appointed in BSNL since its formation also did not get statutory defined pension. The only beneficial recommendation for the pensioners by the VII Central Pay Commission viz. Option 1, meaning One rank One Pension, has been denied to the pensioners.
BSNL pensioners got Pension Revision from 01-01-2007 only after continuous struggles and agitations by employees as well as pensioners. Pension revision due from 01-01-2017 is denied on the flimsy plea that pay revision is not implemented in BSNL. Struggle by AIBDPA continues for Pay revision, denial of medical allowance, medical reimbursement etc.
Many problems of the thousands of pensioners who were retrenched through VRS are still to be settled. AIBDA is fully committed to settle these problems and is continuing its efforts for the same.
AIBDPA is not only limiting its activities to the pensioners, but is actively participating in the problems of senior citizens and other suffering people.
AIBDPA is affiliated to the Trade Union International (TUI) affiliated to WFTU. Com.K.G.Jayaraj, General Secretary AIBDPA is its Executive Committee Member. AIBDPA is affiliated to the NCCPA also. (to be continued)