Historic Lahore Speech of Babu Tarapada Mukherjee at the Lahore Conference on
I am deeply sensible of the honour that you have done by electing me President of the second session of the Conference of the All India (including Burma) Post Office at R.M.S. employees. I know my own shortcomings, and in all humility recognise my unfitness to discharge the very responsible duties of the President of an Assembly, composed of men coming from all parts of India and Burma gathered together to form decisions on momentous questions and to mature plans for carrying those decisions into effect. I am sadly conscious of my limitations and I have not the conceit to think that I deserve the trust you have reposed in me. Now that you have chosen me to preside over your deliberations, it would be false modesty to hesitate. But at the outset, I prefer to tell you, brothers, that I seriously count upon your help to pilot me successfully through this difficult task; and it encourages me to think that you will most willingly render all possible help. Last year the Hon’ble Mr.Kharparde, political leader of All India reputation, than whom a better champion the poor Post Office and R.M.S. employees can hardly find, was at the helm of the first session of the conference held at Delhi, and with what signal success you all know; and you have called upon me to step into his shoes!
2. My election as President is not, however, without a special significance of its own. I have passed my life in the subordinate service of Post Office, and am still in harness. I have lived the miserable life of the subordinate staff, and it has become almost a part of my existence. In choosing me you have grasped the true spirit of Labour Union; you have demonstrated that you are prepared to accept the leadership of one who has been the object of persecution on account of the active interest he has taken on behalf of brother officials; you have honoured one whom the Director General wanted to harass by illegally transferring him from Bengal to Burma; you have shown to the world that you have confidence in your own brothers and are prepared to depend upon your unaided strength for your salvation.
3. I have come here under the deep shadow of an impending domestic calamity. I had thought that I would not be able to leave alone, in Calcutta, my dying wife, and come to Lahore to attend the Conference. But when I was told that you had chosen me President, it sent a thrill through me, not only because I was the recipient of such unique honour but because it revealed that you have learnt to place full confidence in yourselves and no longer upon extraneous help. I could not bear the idea of damping your ardour by refusal; and I therefore, readily responded to your call, of course, with the full consent of my ailing wife. With my poor equipments and in the present state of my mental anxiety, I shall be guilty of many shortcomings, but I earnestly hope you will not mind them and you will lend all possible help in the discharge of my duties to make me a success.
4. The Punjab has, from time immemorial been a gate-keeper of India, and as such she has had to bear the first shock and the brunt of fight in all struggles for national existence. It is therefore, in the fitness of things that in our struggle for emancipation from the slavery, economic or otherwise, that prevails in the Post Office and R.M.S. service, our stalwart brothers of the Punjab should play a worthy part, and the first two sessions of the Conference should be held in the Land of Five Rivers. We are grateful to our Punjab brothers for their earnestness and spirit of sacrifice manifested in the fact of their having invited the Conference for two successive sessions.
5. Let us take a brief survey of the events happening since we met at the last Conference. The much talked of Postal Committee’s report has been published to give us an insight into the mentality that formulated a scheme of revision, grotesque in the extremes, absurd as absurd can be, insulting to the dignity of labour. It is by this time familiar to you all what monster the mountain in labour has produced, of which many of you are probably victim.
6. The Postal Committee starts with the very curious and insulting proposition that “all concession is of the nature of gift and this being so, it is for the donor to decide what the measure of the gift shall be.” This tantamount to saying that the employers are donors and the workers are beggars and they must, therefore, be satisfied with beggar’s doles. I am astonished and you are astonished that a Committee of responsible men, appointed by a civilised Government in the twentieth century can so far forget themselves as to place workers in the category of beggars, at a time, when labour has become self-conscious enough to contemplate taking “Direct Action” even in affairs of State. Perhaps our crime of age-long silence in the past is responsible for such humiliating remarks, or, it may be, that the committee wanted to give a quietus to the growing manifestation of life in the Post Office by reminding the employees that they were no better than beggars, bound to accept without a murmur what charity the Government as donors were pleased to give, and it was useless to clamour for more.
7. Ah! Brothers, workers are not beggars; they are the salt of the earth, they are the only people who produce wealth. Wealth consists of the labour imprinted on material substance and in the absence of workers where is the labour to come from which is necessary to create wealth? Those who do not work are parasites sucking like vampire the life blood of the society, and are battening on the wealth produced by the workers. Is it not amusing that the wealth produced by workers should be appropriated, and then the producers of wealth be called beggars and a pittance doled out to them, so that they may keep the body and soul together for further production of wealth for the benefit of others?
8. Consider, brothers, what this world would be, were the workers to stop work. Not a grain of cereals would be produced, not a yard of yarn would be spun and woven, not a brick would be laid, not a tenement would be built. Those bloated, over-indulged finely draped figures, airing their base manners to their own class would have no food to allay hunger, no clothes to over the body, no home to afford shelter; and they would soon cease to exist to call workers beggars. Brothers, shake off the hypnotic spell, the somnambulism of past life, wake up and be self-conscious, appraise your value at its real worth, do not remain forgetful of the dignity of labour, realise your own strength, and march on double quick to the goal “heart within and God overhead”.
9. Brothers, what better could be expected from the Committee, constituted as it was? Through your Associations you sent up the names of certain persons on whom you had faith, and who could represent your view-point, had they been given a place on the Committee. But the Government religiously excluded every person whom you nominated, and selected men on whom you had absolutely no faith. You cannot be bound by the findings of a Committee with which you had nothing to do, and who had nothing to do with you.
10. The committee have rejected the evidence given by your witness as worthless and conflicting and unreliable. They were, however, scrupulous in comparing and weighting the schemes prepared by different Postmasters General and considering other reports emanating from the Government side. Even in doing so, the Committee brushed aside higher scales proposed by certain Postmasters General, when a lower scale was proposed by another. The fact of the matter is that the Committee was dominated by one idea in framing their scheme, and that is to keep down any considerable increase of expenditure, and they make no secret of this view in this report.
11. The consideration of economy is, however cast to the four winds when the question of raising the pay of the upper strata arises. You will be surprised to learn that in the course of twelve months more than one revision has been sanctioned for those who are paid by thousands instead of by tens, but when the poor under paid, over worked subordinate staff is concerned, that is another matter. The soulless cruel cant of “demand and supply” then comes in, family budget is discarded, evidence of those affected is declared extravagant and unreliable, comparison is made with commercial firms, as if the Government are to follow instead of setting example to capitalist profiteers in the matter of remuneration to the employees, and every quarter is ransacked for the justification of denying what constitutes the real living wage in the present time.
12. If we have a look at the scale of wages in the pre-war time and the advance sanctioned to compensate the increased cost of living in England, we may form a fair idea of the difference of treatment we receive from what our brothers in the British Post Office get. In England a postman at the age of 18 years, on first appointment, used to get, before the war 20 shillings per week. But on account of increased cost of living at present he is paid 53 Shillings per week. Two very striking features rivet our attention - firstly, the pay of a postman on first appointment is Rs.175 in Indian money; and secondly, the increase of over 160% granted on pre-war pay. The maximum pay sanctioned for clerks in the Indian Post Office varies from 120 to Rs.140, to be attained after a service of 25 years, if they are at all able to cross the two efficiency bars, to be rigorously enforced after 10 and 18 years service. They have to start on an initial pay of Rs.35, 40, 45 or Rs.50 as the case may be, against Rs.175 for a postman in England. Congratulate yourselves, brothers, on your good luck! Your increase has been limited to 50% and most of you have got only a very small increase, and many have even been adversely affected.
13. This increase of wages in England was not confined to the cadre of postman alone; the clerks get their wages enhanced in like manner. To pay the enhanced rate of wages the British Post Office had to work at a loss of ten million pounds in the first year the increased pay was sanctioned. To make up the loss the British inland postage has been raised, for letters to 2d and for post-card 1d, equivalent in Indian money to two annas and one anna respectively. If we look to the Indian Postal Administration what do we find? Year after year large surplus revenue is appropriated by the Government, and in this way over five crores of rupees out of Postal revenue has been saved in the course of eight years. It has been the declared policy of Government both in the days of East India Company and after the transference of the Administration to the crown that no surplus revenue would be derived from the Post Office; but the large savings year after year do not give indication of the promise having been kept.
14. Brothers, we are to thank ourselves for the shabby treatment we have been receiving. We have been content to be silent workers for ages, for which such eulogium was bestowed on us by Sir Arthur Fanshawe; and this crime of silence brought its retribution in the neglect to which we were relegated so long. Instead of being silent workers, had we been a little more clamouring for our rights, then the Government would not have sweated us in the manner they have done. It is time we take lessons from past experience, and carry on our fight for all that makes life worth living.
15. The burning question of the day is the question of bread and decent living. Are we paid a living wage? Do we get sufficient wages to nourish our children with healthy and nutritious food, to clothe them decently, to house them in proper and ventilated quarters with sufficient accommodation for purposes of decency and healthy moral development, to give them education, to pay for proper medical help, to meet their marriage expenses and various other social obligations, and provide for the rainy day? Ah! brothers, we all know to what strait have we been reduced. We do not live, but we merely exist, and drudge on to sustain life. Brothers, do you consent to live this life if you can help it?
16. Man is something more than an animal. He cannot afford to pass his days in mere animal existence. He cannot live contented if only his physical needs are satisfied. His moral nature will rise in rebellion if it is altogether neglected. It is impossible to live the life of a moral being who exists for a higher end, - viz, to develop into full manhood and bring it into harmony with the universe and its author, - unless he has a mind free from anxiety, and unless he has sufficient leisure for contemplation and introspection. It is, therefore, necessary that the income should be adequate to dispel domestic cares, and time must be available for the development of the higher nature.
17. But what opportunities have we to live a human life in the Postal Service? The pay is too low, in consequence of which we are in a constant state of anxiety; the long hours of duty and the hard labour of office are very exhausting. We are thus reduced to a state of mere animal existence, and even that - not a healthy one. Brothers, we cannot afford to continue as we are, unless we belie our nature. We must, therefore, determine to have our pay increased and working hours reduced. We must fight and fight strenuously to secure what alone can make life worth living. We must make up our minds at this conference whether we shall continue to live as human cattle or “take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them”.
18. Brothers, again do I reiterate that we are to thank ourselves if we continue to live, this present degraded life. It is the law of nature that we should receive the treatment we actually deserve. We have fallen from our high pedestal and we have lost the consciousness of our true self. We have forgotten that we have a soul which is the essence of God. Once our hypnotism is gone and once we succeed in overcoming mean terror and low selfishness and abject submission to fate, the soul will manifest in all its glory and it will triumph over whatever obstacles may stand in our way.
19. Brother delegates, you had expected a good deal from the Postal Committee; and the animation and activity displayed by the postal officials throughout India and Burma at the time was an index to the high hopes raised by what then appeared as a genuine desire of the Government to do justice to the long neglected subordinate staff of the Postal Office. Your hopes have been shattered, your expectations have been cast to the four winds, and you stand to-day in a position hardly better than when the Committee was appointed. I ask you, brothers, as to whether the disappointment has broken your spirit, or whether it has given you a new impetus to redouble your energy and give no rest to the Government till our legitimate claims are fully satisfied.
20. If you are convinced in your heart that the recommendations of the Postal Committee are humiliating and unsatisfactory, if you feel you have been very shabbily treated and you deserved better, and if you are determined to obtain what you have a right to claim, only one course is open to you, and that is summed up in the one word “Organise”. Organise if you want real living wages, organise if you want to have your working hours reduced, organise if you desire better treatment from your superior officers, organise if you want that the authorities should consult and consider your opinion on all administrative measures affecting you.
21. Similarly because the Postal workers’ organisation was still in a liquid state that the Postal Committee should dare to characterise the workers as beggars, to openly give expression in their report to the view that the witnesses chosen by the workers were unreliable, to prepare schemes of revision altogether inadequate, is grotesque and ridiculous in the extreme. Had the Committee found the Postal Organisation as strong as Telegraph Association, they would have changed their tune and sung quite a different song. We should take lessons from the attitude of the Government towards the telegraphists. Simply because the Telegraph Association is a very powerful body with strong financial backing, every member of which is alive with class consciousness ready to do in concert whatever circumstances, demanded, the Telegraph Committee, of which the President was the same Mr. Haseltine, who presided over the Postal Committee, recommended almost everything demanded by Mr. Barton of the Telegraph Association and Government accepted the recommendations without demur. They do not dare to call the Telegraphists beggars, or to characterise the witnesses as unreliable.
22. Take it from me, Brothers, that petitions, and memorials and supplications will count for nothing so long as you do not organise yourselves in a manner to convince the Government that you will no longer stand nonsense. This organisation when perfected, will be ten times more powerful than the Telegraph Associations. But there are difficulties in the way. We have scattered units spread over the length and breadth of the country; and so much the stronger must be our efforts to enthuse them with the spirit of Association, and secure them to the service of the common cause. The spirit of Association is already in the air, there is a universal awakening in the Post Office, spirit of unrest has captured the entire Postal Service, everyone is eager to contribute his mite for the furtherence of the common cause. The ground is ready; only some daring spirits are wanted to sow the seed and reap abundant harvest.
23. Organisation to be effective, must be centralised, Scattered Associations with very loose ties to bind them are useless for action, and the authorities know it well. Unless, therefore, we can concentrate our scattered forces to be set in motion by some one central authority, we may rest assured that our efforts will not be crowned with full success. The All India (including Burma) Post Office and R.M.S. Union is intended to supply the place of the central authority. To make the All India Union a reality demands a good deal from us. We must rise superior to provincialism, we must broaden our outlook, we must cultivate a spirit of trust, we must be identified with the All India Unions, wherever it may be located, we must fully develop class consciousness, we must have implicit faith in the All India Executive; in one word we must strongly feel that we are for the Union, and the Union is for us. So long as we cannot thus identify ourselves fully, the Union will lack the full strength necessary for our salvation.
24. Brothers, our weakness arises from the fact that we have forgotten our true selves. From this forgetfulness of the Self are engendered the vices that mar our life. Flunkeyism, cowardice, selfishness, treachery, supineness and insincerity - these are the tools used by Beelzebub to asphyxiate the soul. Brothers, beware of them, shun them as viper’s breath, train the mind to be impervious to the devil’s wiles, and there is no power that can deny you the rights and dignities of man.
25. Now comes the question as to what are the requisites to make the organisation successful. I cannot do better than repeat the advice given by Colonel Wedgwood, one of the labour leaders of England, at a meeting of the Postal employees in Calcutta. The first requisite, he said was a strong feeling of class consciousness. The bond of all unions is this feeling of class consciousness, We all belong to the Postal Service, and we are, therefore, brothers. We may come from different provices, we many speak different tongues, we may be separated by wide areas extending over thousands of miles, but all this difference must disappear before our common brotherhood. We may have our private disputes, tempting offers may be in work to seduce particular officials to create divided interest, but we must rise superior to all these. Private quarrel never so bitter and temptation never so powerful, should not alienate us from our allegiance to brother officials and make us traitors to our cause. This feeling is class-consciousness, without which no organisation worth the name is possible.
The second requisite is that on official should stand aloof from our Union. Union is strength, and we cannot afford to have division in our camp. In the interest of service as much as for individual interest, everyone should join the Uion with heart and soul, so that our demands may have behind them, the united strength of the entire body of officials.
The third requisite is to create a substantial Reserve Fund. Brother delegates full purse constitutes the sinews of war, and no special emphasis is at all necessary on this point. You all know that without a strong financial backing, satisfactory work cannot be done.
The fourth, requisite is to give publicity to our grievances through the press. The labour organisations in the west have their own organs for their purpose. In India we hand, until lately practically no organ for our own entirely devoted to the lately, practically no organ for our own entirely devoted to the interest of postal and R.M.S employees. This want has now been supplied to a certain extent by the "Labour'. a monthly magazine issued under the auspices of the Provisional Association, Bengal and Assam. If the All India Union could undertake to issue its own paper, or, failing that, recognised the 'Labour' and gave it sanction to assume the All India character in name, as it has already done in its methods, it would be better still. The organ of the Union should be very largely subscribed, so that every employee may have the opportunity to acquaint himself with the activities of association, and become familiar with the progress of ideas.
The fifth requisite is to influence the members of the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State with a view to bring pressure on the Government. The value of help in this direction will, however, depend to great extent on the strength of our organisation. The members are in a position to render help, no doubt, but their help will not be very effective, unless our organisation becomes powerful.
26. These are the five requisites for a successful organisation. I wish to add one more to the Colonel’s list; I mean a proper sense of discipline. As I said in my speech at Mymensingh, the Colonel does not appear to have laid emphasis on the point, simply because discipline is so spontaneous in England, although the spirit of discipline is almost moribund in India. Discipline requires that when you have a duly elected Executive you must abide by their decision in all matters which are within their competence. If you find the Executive going wrong you have the choice to elect a fresh Executive; but you cannot, consistently with the principles of discipline, keep an Executive body in office and override their action. Then, discipline demands that when there is a difference of opinion, the minority must abide by the verdict of the majority; there must be no secession, 'I do not agree with you on a particular question and I cannot, therefore act with you' - this spirit is subversive of discipline. If my view does not find favour with the majority. I must subordinate my view to the views of the majority, and loyally work wholeheartedly for the common cause. This is discipline. Brother delegates, the spirit of discipline is still weak in us and it is, therefore, so very necessary always to remember that without discipline no organisation can stand and work with success.
27. The Government not forget to reiterate, in season and out of season, that a strong committee was appointed to investigate the grievances of Post Office officials. The Government have accepted their recommendations; what cause of complaint have we then? We must admit that the committee was strong enough to call workers beggars, strong in their anxiety to recommend as little as possible, strong in declaring the witnesses chosen by the workers as unreliable, strong in rejecting the unanimous demands of the men, strong in accepting whatever was suggested from official quarters, strong in murdering logic and facts, strong in preparing absurd and grotesque schemes.
28. Most of you have, I hope, gone through the memorial submitted to H.E, the viceroy by the Secretary, Provincial Postal and R.M.S. Association , Bengal and Assam Circle, which contains a criticism of the Committee’s report. The Committee richly deserved the castigation it has received. After a prolonged sitting, Committee produced a scheme, which contains within itself its own condemnation. Juniuor men would get higher pay than senior men, a graduate newly appointed would march four years in advance of graduates in service. A graduate paid probationer appointed before December 1919 would be entitled to the initial pay of a Reserve clerk, but a graduate paid probationer appointed after December 1919 would start on an initial pay of four years in advance in the timescale; what greater absurdities could be conceived to discredit the report of the Committee.
29. The distinction made between First class and Second class Head office is based on reasons inconsistent with facts. Neither it is true that cost of living in places with First class Head Offices is higher than places with Second class Head Offices, nor it is a fact that work in a First class Head Office is more arduous and more difficult. Then, a first class Head Office may be reduced to a second class Head Office and Vice versa as is has happened before; and what scale of pay would then apply is a problem for Gods to solve. The curious part of the whole affair is that the Committee made this fanciful distinction on their own initiative or on the initiative from official quarters, without caring even to question the worker’s witnesses what they had to say on the subject. The fact of the matter is that the Committee did not care a jot for the opinion of worker’s witnesses, and the fact of calling these witnesses was a mere form and nothing else.
30. I refrain from giving a full catalogue of the absurdities as they are too numerous. We are ashamed of the Committee, and the Government should be ashamed of the Committee. We reject the findings of the Committee, and the Government should do likewise as the only honourable course.
31. Now, brothers, we should consider what we actually want and determine what we should fight for. To my mind four things are necessary to establish the subordinate service in the Post Office on a correct basis. The first thing we must have, is adequate and decent wages; the second thing, curtailment of hours of duty; the third thing, good treatment from superior officers and moderation of punishment; and the last thing that we must have a voice in the administration in matters affecting the subordinate staff.
32. At the last conference, held at Delhi, we agreed that the scale of pay for clerks and sorters should be uniform, and we formulated our minimum demands. I do not know that anything has happened since then to alter our views. We must fight for the minimum irreducible demands we determine after mature consideration. I think it was time that we took up the question of irreducible minimum wages for other classes of employees in the subordinate service as well.
33. Brothers, time-scale of pay for the Subordinate Service is meant to give a living wage. Efficiency bars are out of place where living wage is the question. Efficiency bars are, therefore, inconsistent and anomalous and out of place in the time-scale of pay in the subordinate service. In the superior services pay is determined, not by the standard of living but to attract men of superior stamp and to give dignity to high offices, and it is, therefore, in the fitness of things that there should be efficiency bars in the time-scale of pay in the superior services. Brothers, we cannot, therefore, tolerate any bars in the time-scales of pay in the subordinate service of the Post Office.
34. The reduction in the hours of duty is of equal importance. Under existing conditions one is required to work very long hours, generally from 10 to 12 hours, daily. The responsibility of Post Office duty is very heavy. Hard labour for inordinately long hours with considerable money responsibility reduces the men to a state of physical and mental paralysis; and it should not be allowed to continue for a day to the detriment of the service, if we can help it. The authorities are, however, altogether callous. In the year 1919-20 the work of the Post Office increased over 11% and only 1.8% increased staff was sanctioned. Where is the wonder then that the manipulating staff should be harder pressed year after year. With the question of reducing hours of duty, is involved the question of revising the Time-Test. We must press for workers’ representatives in any committee that may be appointed to revise the Time-Test.
35. The question of punishment is another matter which we must take up in earnest. The superior officers treat their subordinates not as public servants but as public slaves. One who cares to know can easily find for himself, if one visits an important Post Office at a busy hour, how showers of abuse and insult pour down on the devoted heads of the clerks as a most natural thing. Even assaults are not a very uncommon occurrence. But the clerks do not get protection from the Department they serve. They have to exercise Job’s patience even under extreme provocation, lest their official career be ruined.
36. The postal administration is conducted by working on the terror of the subordinate staff. Circulars and instructions issued by the authorities always carry a sting in the tail and the sting is in the shape of a warning that "mistake or failure to carry out instructions will be severely punished". This betrays a mentality that has no faith in the sense of duty and loyalty of the workers, but depends entirely on the terror of punishment. Like slave onwners, the Postal Administration always keep the rod uplifted to get the work done. What is calculated to demoralise the men more than this ? The authorities do not believe in the innate goodness of man. They appear to hold that man was not created by the good God, but by the forces of Evil; and the evil propensities so inherited can be restrained only by the use of the rod.
37. Draco, the ancient law giver of athens is not dead. He lives in spirit in the Postal Administration. Have you missent a letter ? You must be fined-you must bleed. Have you, through pressure of work, failed to exercise the necessary scrutiny prescribed in the manual rule? - you must bleed, you must pay heavy penalty in fine and you must be degraded. Have you the hardihood of allowing your manhood to rebel against insults. abuses and assaults? - you must bleed and your career is blighted. Any smallest thing will be on record against you and it will bar your progress beyond the efficiency bars, and your dream of entering the selection grades will vanish into thin air. The Director General in his book recently published admits, to quote his own words."Every official in the Department is supposed to have the contents of these four volumes of Manual at this finger’s end, but in reality few have ever read them through; and any one who attempted to obey all their instructions would find himself sadly hampered in the exercise of his duties''. But what of that? This frank admission by Mr. Clark does not at all count when punishment is determined, and it goes on merrily as ever. We must seriously take up this question of punishment and the treatment due from superior officers. We cannot allow our manhood to be destroyed by such constant terror of punishment hanging like Damocles sword over our head.
38. Brothers, our position will not be quite satisfactory unless we can secure a voice in the Postal administration in matters affecting the subordinate staff. The authorities have the knack of launching into schemes, husty and defective; and the manipulating staff have to suffer. You know what happened when the despatch of V.P Money Order forms to office of destination was abolished, what confusion it caused, what trouble it brought to the workers, what serious inconvenience it caused to the public, and how at last the old system had to be reintroduced. The abolition of Savings Bank Ledger maintained in the Audit Office was another instance of serious blunder, which generated endless difficulties and occasioned the ruin of many promising careers.
39. The disintegration of the Calcutta G.P.O and separation of the sorting work to form a separate Sorting Office under the control of Deputy Postmaster General, R.M.S was also a huge blunder. After a chequered career and various somersaults the Calcutta Sorting has been restored to the control of the Presidency Postmaster. These blundering experiments have proved unqualified failures. But they involved a lot of wasteful expenditure and caused endless trouble to the workers. Such blunders can be easily avoided if the representative Associations of the workers are consulted, and the weight given to their opinion. For purpose of good administration, for the prevention of wasteful expenditure and for saving the workers from unnecessary troubles, we have a right to claim that in all administrative measures affecting the subordinate staff the All India (including Burma) Post Office and R.M.S Union should be consulted.
40. It may look ungallant, but I shall be failing in my duty if I do not refer to the invidious preference given to women clerks. They will start on a higher initial pay much higher even than that of graduates; the rates of annual increment are higher, and there are no efficiency bars for them. All the world over women clerks still hold a place inferior to male clerks, and only now a movement is going on in England on behalf of women clerks for an equal status with male clerks. But this natural order has been reversed in the Indian Post Office for reasons best known to the authorities. Are you going to accept this lower status assigned to male clerks or are you determined to remove to stigma of inferiority thus branded on your forehead?
41. Brothers, the tale of our woes is endless and I have touched only the fringe. But I have already inflicted on you a long lucubration to tire your patience. I do not dare to take further advantage of your goodness out of which you have given me so patient a hearing. I shall, therefore, conclude by asking you to remember that you are men, and not dumb driven cattle; you have a soul which is the essence of God and which nothing can repress except your own folly and ignorance and supineness. You have immense potentiality, capable of moving heaven and earth. Organise this power, organise with a purpose, organise with determination, and I promise you success will knock at your door.
Brother delegates, I earnestly hope that you will not only carry the impression of this Conference with you but act up to the deals set forth here. Go and organise the employees in the different provinces so that when we meet next year in Madras we may be able to demonstrate to the authorities that we are not a weak body to be trifled with. Gentlemen. I cannot conclude before uttering a few words of warning with regard to recognition. The rules laid down by Government for recognition are humiliating and if you accept them, your associations will be reduced to officialised bodies without liberty and independence. Recognition is bound to come from the unwilling Government as soon as you make your association strong. Government has begun to recognise the Bengal Provincial Association. It replies to the letters addressed by the association to Government; supplies it with all its circulars and publications. Do try to make your association strong but do not commit the suicidal folly of seeking for recognition. I would once again thank Bawa Teja Singh, Mr. Swaberry, Volunteers and the delegates, assembled in the conference.