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Kantibhai Thakorlal Mehta (1920-2007)

Kantibhai Thakorlal Mehta (1920-2007) won national and international recognition in a not so common field – as a labour leader, who spent a large part of his life organizing the workers in the coal mines of Bihar.
 

Born into a rich family in 1920, Mr. Mehta had his early education in Palanpur, and later went on to complete his education from St Paul’s Public School, Darjeeling and St Xavier’s College, Kolkata. During his college days, he came in touch with the Gandhian movement, and was influenced by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Kakasaheb Kalelkar and Vinoba Bhave. His thoughts and ideas took further shape after he spent a year and a half at the Sewagram Ashram in Wardha.


During the 1942 Quit India movement Mr. Mehta was sent to Bombay jail and seriously injured in a lathi charge during one of the protests. But this did not deter him, and from 1943-46 he began organizing the Port & Dock and Textile workers in Kolkata. He joined the Indian National Trade Union Congress in Mumbai in 1948, and shifted to Dhanbad the next year, where he was instrumental in the formation of the Indian National Mineworker’s Federation (INMF). He later held the senior posts of General Secretary and President in this body. Under his leadership, the INMF succeeded in getting a historic Tribunal Award for equal wages to men and women for equal work.

 

After a long stint at the grassroots level, Mr. Mehta also got involved at the national and international level in the trade union movement. He was a member of the All-India Executive Committee of INTUC for over two decades, and also served as its Vice President. Similarly he was the VP of the Asian Chapter of the Miners International Federation and a Member of the Governing Body of the Geneva based International Labour Organisation, and VP of the ILO Conference in 1974.


During his long career, Mr. Mehta was also associated with a number of Wage Boards and Tripartite Boards. He has also been on the Board of Directors of NMDC, MMTC, SAIL, Coal Mines Authority Ltd, FCI and other government corporations.

 

Mr. Mehta passed away on October 20, 2007 in Puri, Orissa.


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