- The coolie is “casual” labour, and is worse off than the organised workers of the miler and factories. Abdul was his friend.
- If he is neglected, he may not always be patient.
Look at that man outside the fruit market, with scanty clothing and large shallow basket in his arm. He is waiting on the chance of a job which will earn him a few annas. If you call, “Coolie!” five or six will dash forward and fight for the chance of serving you. Women and little children are there, as well as men. Others may be seen carrying baskets of soil to repair the roads in this Nawab’s compound, where the rains did some damage.
The sight of these men reminds us that we have in our country a large body of unorganized, casual labour. The workers in the factories have slowly fought their way to recognition of their union, as have the employees of the mills. They have not such powerful organizations as the workmen of Europe, but a start has been made; and they have gained recognition for their basic right. They can bargain about pay and about hours of labour, and have their official representative. The coolies have nothing and are dependent on a chance to earn a little in small and unimportant tasks, purely at the mercy of the people who may care to employ them. They are not men of abilities, and it would appear the Nature has nnade men in different moulds, some to lead and some to serve. The Bible recognized the existence of men who were “hewers of wood and drawers of water”, and from the days in ancient Indo-Pak subcontinent, we have always had this unemployed class.
Most of our leaders are the champion of the poor, set the example in starting a movement to help these “bottom poor.” The coolies that we see waiting for a chance to carry the shopper’s purchases home, or laboriously carrying maunds of luggage on their heads, pulling maunds of goods on a hand cart which a donkey could not move these are men, not animals. Somewhere they live in their miserable hovels, without comfort and without decency, but they are men. They have wives and children to feed and clothe, and they have their joys and sorrows which may be as intense as those of the rich man. A country cannot become great and enlightened as long as there is a neglected class of men and women like this. Once there was a country which allowed its lower orders to sink to the level of animals while the rich exploited them for cheap labour. The result was deeply sunk in poverty, poor and illiterate, the time comes when they feel discontented with their status the resit usually is a social disorder, which fomented by unscrupulous leaders, becomes a violent and dangerous brand of Communism. The way to prevent this is by Government sponsored reforms, helped out by energetic social service on the part of all. Show the coolies that they have your sympathy and pity, even if you have no more to given them.