Shrameva Jayate – Labour Day Celebration In India
International Workers’ Day
International Workers’ Day or Labour Day is a global celebration of the working class, the labourers, and the tradesmen whose efforts form the very foundation of our social and economic progress. In many European countries and erstwhile colonies of European nations, Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May each year. Other countries such as the US, however, celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September each year. In India, we start the month of May with a dedication to the labourers and workers who have been the force behind the industrial development of our nation.
History of Labour Day
One of the major events in the history of Labour Day is a labour demonstration that took place in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on 4 May, 1886. It started off as a peaceful demonstration seeking an 8 hour work day for the labourers, but soon got out of hand. An unidentified person hurled a bomb at the police, killing about 11 people. Of the eight convicted, seven turned out to be innocent. The incident was also followed by large-scale demands for 8 hour work days and better conditions for workers in many parts of the world.
It was later in 1904 that the 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam voiced a call for demonstrations by trade unions and socialist parties of all countries on 1 May each year “for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”
Labour Day In India
1 May, Labour Day, is a public holiday in India. “Shramik Diwas” celebrations, demonstrations, and camps are organized in many parts of the country. The very first Labour Day celebration in the country was held in Madras (Chennai), on 1 May 1923. Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar, one of the founders of the Communist Party of India and a champion of workers’ rights, launched the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on this day. He arranged for two workers’ meetings to be held in Madras on that day – one was held opposite the Madras high Court on the Marina beach and the other was held at Triplicane. The red flag that popularly represents the working class was raised for the first time in India on this day. The Triumph of Labour Statue (popularly called Labour Statue) stands tall on the Marina Beach in Chennai – a grand reminder of the first Labour Day celebration in the country.
“Today, on Labour Day we salute the determination & hardwork of countless workers who play a big role in India’s progress. Shrameva Jayate!“, tweeted India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning. Appreciation of labourers and workers goes far beyond participating in Labour Day celebrations. With a vision as grand as ours – of turning the country into a global manufacturing hub – it is important that the labour force be accorded its rightful place in our hearts and in society.
2012 estimates suggest that there are over 487 million workers in the country. Recent news reports, however, reveal an alarming trend. To bypass tough labour laws companies are increasingly hiring contractual employees. Lack of security, seasonal employment, poor pay and living standards, child labour – these and a number of other challenges plague the working class of India. Labour Day is a reminder for us that these are the real architects of our society, that they deserve their due respect.