Anasuya Sarabhai Honoured With Google Doodle on Her 132nd Birthday
Google celebrated the 132nd birthday of Anasuya Sarabhai, pioneer of the women’s labour movement in India, on Saturday with a doodle. Born on November 11, 1885, to an industrialist’s family in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, Sarabhai played a pivotal role in altering the course of India’s labour history.
In 1914 she helped Ahmedabad’s weavers successfully organise their first strike for higher wages. In the years that followed, she went on to become their most vocal supporter, negotiating with mill owners – including her brother – for better working conditions. She was affectionately called “Motaben”, Gujarati for “elder sister”, by those she helped.
Anasuya Sarabhai got influenced by the Fabian Society while she was in England and got involved in the Suffragette movement which was working towards obtaining the right to vote for women. Anasuya Sarabhai worked for the betterment of women and poor when she returned back to India. She opened a school and decided to get involved in the labour movement when she saw exhausted women mill workers returning home after a 36-hour shift.
She was supported in her work by Mahatma Gandhi and in 1918, Anasuya managed mill owners to accede to the demand of Ahmedabad weavers for a 35% wage hike. Tens of thousands of workers participated in the protest, laying the foundation for Gujarat’s oldest labour union, Majoor Mahajan Sangh (Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association or TLA), that was established on February 25, 1920.
The doodle was created by Maria Qamar, the Pakistani-Canadian artist and author of the book ‘Trust No Aunty’. “Anasuya’s dedication to justice and equality is something I can relate to,” said Qamar. She said her doodle was inspired by the Indian textile industry. “I portrayed delicate fabrics and traditional patterns found in our homes and our closets,” Qamar added.