Started in 1982 in a major industrial city adjacent to the capital Delhi.
Faridabad, a planned city post-1947. Some factories established for refugees from Pakistan. It was the industrial unrest in West Bengal in the 1960s that accelerated the establishment of factories in Faridabad. With 40 percent of tractor and 40 percent of motorcycle production in India, mini steel plants, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, shoes, tyres, paper, printing press, electric motor factories, by late nineteen seventies Faridabad had become the biggest industrial centre in north India.
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar was premised on a leninist framework and focussed on factory workers in Faridabad. The monthly publication made an impact. With study circles and interventions in industrial conflicts a hyperactive group emerged amongst factory workers. Two years experiences in the 22 kilometer long industrial area forced us to question the leninist premise that trade unions were workers' organisations.
Openness to and interactions with various groups claiming to represent wage workers for revolutionary transformation raised more questions.
The publication was stopped after 26 issues. New premises were needed.
Interactions with groups claiming lineage of German-Dutch Left and/or Italian Left provided a lot of material for consideration. Pamphlets of the group Solidarity, Mattick's Anti-Bolshevik Communism, publications of the International Communist Current, publications of the Communist Workers Organisation, publications of Battaglia Comunista, publications of the DeLeonist tendency in the USA.......Our focus was Marx's three volumes of Capital, Rosa Luxemburg's The Accumulation of Capital, Bukharin's Anti-Critique.
In 1986 we published Kamunist Kranti in Hindi and English and recommenced the publication of Majdoor Samachar.
The focus was still factory workers in Faridabad. Interactions with left groups continued but they seemed to be stuck in the 1920s and hardly had anything to do with workers in the present except telling them what to do/not do.
From 1000-2000 copies, we published 5000 copies in end-1993. The impact was immediate --- democratic union musclemen snatched copies.
Regular publication of 5000 copies soon forced us out of our preach-teach cocoon. By 1996, self-activity of wage-workers began acquiring the axial position in Majdoor Samachar.
Most of the factory workers in the 1980s were permanent. In their daily practice factory workers routinely questioned representation.
An overhaul of the factories took place in the 1990s. Re-engineering and re-composition of factory workers. Industrial conflicts increased. A large number of factories/methods of production closed. Mechanical machines were displaced by electronically operated machines. Permanent workers were largely displaced by temporary workers.
Rule of law and representation to control factory workers became increasingly irrelevant. Temporary workers in factories emerged as an unmanageable force.
But Majdoor Samachar was in the 1990-2000 period, by and large concerned with the defensive struggles of permanent workers.
Expansion of Majdoor Samachar's distribution in the adjoining Okhla Industrial Area in Delhi post-2000. In the beginning it was a shock to find that a large number of workers did not know the name of the factory they worked in. It took some time to realise the radical potential: this/that factory irrelevant, factory system/wages system was what mattered in practice.
Wages and conditions was the framing in which Majdoor Samachar had been looking at industrial conflicts. And, painfully this continued until 2010.
Workers voices became the main material in Majdoor Samachar 2000 onwards. But these were voices of workers as victims. Wages and conditions of temporary workers in factories were terrible. Reading this was painful and increased the all-round pessimism. Radical ruptures that were increasingly visible and the radical potential were discussed but in fragmentary/convoluted form. A routine had set in --- monthly distribution in Faridabad and Okhla industrial areas.
An activist worker in Europe (born in Germany) came to Gurgaon in 2007 and we were pulled into Gurgaon. It became necessary to print 7000 copies to cover Udyog Vihar in Gurgaon.
A political activist came to Gurgaon from Allahabad and became a factory worker. He started distributing Majdoor Samachar in Industrial Model Town Manesar in 2009.
Activities of young Maruti Suzuki factory (established in 2007) workers in IMT Manesar in 2011-12 brought to the fore the radical potentials in the present and the radical ruptures taking place as a matter of daily fact at every workplace. Majdoor Samachar mirrored this and in turn its transformation accelerated.
In 2011-12 the number of copies printed per month became 10,000. Maruti Manesar factory workers activities also gave a spurt to left activists of various hues. New students and other activists joined in the distribution of Majdoor Samachar. New industrial areas were added to the distribution network. Printing of 12-13-14-15000 copies per month. Stabilisation around 15000 copies.
Fixation with printed copies and minimal use of the internet dragged on till end-2015. It was the use of smartphones by young workers as a matter of fact and the need for lateral interactions that overcame stubbornness of some of us. And instantly, distribution of Majdoor Samachar by factory workers in their whatsapp groups was in hundreds of thousands.
Since 1993, 2-3-5 copies were being taken by workers during roadside distribution. The numbers of workers taking multiple copies increased. Some readers started taking 50-100-200-300 copies for their co-workers and friends. But even then, as late as mid-2018 the distribution of printed copies was mainly by activists. By the way, since 1996 Majdoor Samachar was premised on "anti-activism". Tragi-comic "anti-activist" activists!
Mid-2018 there was a spurt in the number of workers and the number of copies they started taking. Readers working in factories in Noida, Okhla, IMT Manesar, Faridabad started taking 500-800-1000-1500-2000-3000 copies. Number of printed copies increased to 20,000 in January 2019 and then via 25-26 thousand, 28,000 copies of May 2019 issue were printed. The readers of Majdoor Samachar have become the distributors of its printed copies as well. Habits linger on but in practice, "anti-activist" activists have been liberated from their activism!!!