People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 36

September 04, 2011


Let’s Follow in His Footsteps


A K Padmanabhan


THE demise of Comrade M K Pandhe, a legendary figure of the Indian trade union movement, one who did not fail to focus on the international responsibilities either, is not a loss to the working class movement alone but to the entire democratic movement in India.


Born in a not so affluent family, his thirst for knowledge from his childhood continued all through his life. Having declared himself as a soldier of the working class, he remained steadfast in his ideological belief. That commitment took him to factories, mines, plantations and various other workplaces in order to reach the needy workers, to extend them a helping hand. The same spirit and enthusiasm took him to many conventions, seminars and conferences where he gathered a thorough knowledge of any subject connected with the life of the working people.


This undoubtedly made him the most travelled trade unionist in the country, as will be vouched by any worker, any employee, and even by many managers who would come forward with the details of his sojourn to their areas of activity. It is doubtful it there is any district in the country, any industrial unit, which he did not visit at least once in his life.


He devoted 65 years of his tireless activities to the trade union front, starting from his initial work in Sholapur, his home town, in the year 1946.


Till the last day of his life he continued his efforts to build the CITU as a powerful and revolutionary trade union organisation, coupled with his efforts to build up the unity of the Indian working class. The leading role he played in widening the joint activities of trade unions, both at the national and at the sectoral level, will always be remembered. From the UCTU in the early 1970s, the NCCRS in the historic railwaymen’s struggle, the CPSTU of the central public undertakings, the National Campaign Committee during 1981-82, the Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions in the 1990s and the present joint platform of all central trade unions and national federations are testimonies to his leading role in building the joint movement in the country.


These efforts extended to the international arena as well, as proletarian internationalism was the cornerstone of his efforts. While underlining the importance of international solidarity, he did not fail to critically look into the activities of organisations like the WFTU, utilising its platform whenever available. When positive changes were happening in the WFTU after its 15th congress, he welcomed it and also guided the CITU to affiliate itself to the WFTU, so as to meet the present day challenges at international level.


An exemplary aspect of Comrade Pandhe was his inimitable adherence to the working class qualities of modesty and simplicity in life. He upheld these qualities all through his life. As a trade union activist, his life was an example of simple living.


Through thousands of articles and write-ups, through hundreds of pamphlets and many books, he educated the working people to carry forward the struggle against the policies of the ruling classes and for emancipation of the working class as a whole. Let us re-pledge ourselves to follow in his footsteps and carry forward the class oriented trade union activities!