Google is celebrating the 132nd birthday of Anasuya Sarabhai and has dedicated and honoured her with a Google Doodle. Anasuya Sarabhai was a pioneer of the women’s labour movement in India and founded the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh). It is the oldest union of textile workers and was founded in 1920. Anasuya Sarabhai was born in Ahmedabad on November 11, 1885. She belonged to the wealthy and illustrious family of Sarabhai and Godavariba.
Her family members were wealthy industrialists and business people. Her parents died young and she along with her brother and a younger sister were sent to live with an uncle. She went to England in 1912 to pursue a medical degree but when she realized that animal dissection is a part of the curriculum she switched to London School of Economics as it was a violation of her Jain beliefs. She had an unsuccessful child marriage too at the young age of 13. Anasuya Sarabhai was affectionately called ‘Motaben’ meaning elder sister in Gujarati.
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.Anasuya Sarabhai helped mill workers organize a strike in 1914 in Ahmedabad.
She also took part in a month-long strike where workers were demanding 50 percent increase in wages whereas they were getting only 20 percent increase in 1918. Mahatma Gandhi who was a close family friend supported her and began a hunger strike on the workers’ behalf. Finally a 35 percent hike was obtained and in 1920, the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh) was formed which is the oldest union in the country. Anasuya Sarabhai remained the lifelong president of the union.