Sarabhai, Anusyabehn (1885–1972)

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Sarabhai, Anusyabehn (1885–1972)

Indian labor organizer who founded assorted craft unions that ultimately united into the Textile Labour Association. Born in 1885; died in 1972; attended London School of Economics.

Anusyabehn Sarabhai was born in Ahmedabad, India, in 1885. Although her family was wealthy, she was orphaned at ten years of age. Two years later, she surrendered unwillingly to an arranged marriage, which she later had annulled. Sarabhai traveled to England in 1911, where she attended the London School of Economics. There she was exposed to the teachings of the Fabian Society, which advocated a slow and non-revolutionary transition to socialism.

When Sarabhai returned to her homeland, she became involved in charitable and philanthropic works. In 1914, she undertook the education of the children of these mill workers, and in 1917 she organized workers into a cohesive group that ultimately called for a labor strike; it was the first labor strike in the history of India. Sarabhai was a colleague of Mohandas Gandhi and supported him in 1918 in his Ahmedabad strike. By 1920, she was instrumental in establishing the Textile Labour Association, a conglomeration of separate unions that she had organized earlier in her career. Throughout her lifetime, Sarabhai assisted with supervision, negotiations, and dispute resolution for the laborers among whom she worked. She died in 1972.

Gloria Cooksey , freelance writer, Sacramento, California

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Sarabhai, Anusyabehn (1885–1972)

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