90th Birthday of Late Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti on 2nd June, 2015
Com Tarak Da in his words : “ I do not know how long I will live but want to live as long as I can. I have got a lot from this world. But I have given hardly anything in return. Everything on this earth has nursed me. It is so fascinating. I know there is no rebirth but as long as I live, it will be my aim and endeavour to be of some service in whatever capacity I can to the society ”
2nd June, 2015 will mark the 90th Birthday of our beloved leader and former General Secretary of AIBEA, late Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti. Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti, affectionately called as Com. Tarak or Tarakda by all of us was a great leader of trade union in the banking industry not only in India but also among the leaders of banking industry all over the world.
The family of Com. Tarak was an orthodox, conservative and totally religious one. The education was confined to only studies of Sanskrit and Sashtras and daily worshipping of god was a must. In such a background, father of Com. Tarak decided that their only son must be given English education and he was admitted in a English School at the age of three years. He passed his matriculation in second Division in 1941. During the Second World War, Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti, was in Kolkata and on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and sank three US warships as stated by Tarakda, Kolkata was deserted by people fearing immediate bombing. He too was shifted to Beldanga (Murshidabad) with his uncle’s family and came back to Kolkata during 1942.
In January, 1946, Com. Tarak joined the Central Bank of India’s Bhowanipore Branch, which was next to Ashutosh College, where he was perusing his MA classes. It was the time when the bank unions started to form. He saw that the fellow staff members in his bank were exploited by the management even on smallest pretext. The staff was awarded underserved punishments. These circumstances had an impact of repugnance on the young Tarak which he could not forget even in his later years. He became the member of the union. In the words of Com. Tarak, published as a book called ‘Com. Tarakda – in his own words’, he says , “I was a tormented young man in darkness in search of a path and by 1949 – end, I was convinced that at the root of all the evils is economic system and exploitation. Compulsions of my own life brought me one day to a position when I became a member of Communist Party of India coinciding with my greater involvement with the union activities following the arrest and dismissal of Com. Naresh Pal, one of the outstanding leading light in organizing the bank employees into trade union movement with positive direction.” He adds “Before that on August 17, 1948 in support of Central Bank Employees indefinite strike from August 5, 1948, BPBEA gave the strike call which was a total success but lead to the prosecution of Com. Prabhat Kar and his colleagues by the management of Lloyds Bank for having participated in strike declared illegal by the government.
Com. Naresh Pal, after coming out from the jail, started pressing Com. Tarak to become the secretary of the union of which he was made the acting secretary, in his (Comrade Naresh Pal’s) absence. With the help of Com. Naresh Pal, Com. Tarak became member of Communist Party, that heralded a moment of total turn in his life. This also brought Com. Tarak in the BPBEA activities. Those were the days when Com. Prabhat Kar and many others were dismissed from the bank service, Sen Tribunal Award was declared void and Sastri Tribunal was appointed. Com. Tarak in 1951, in a special session of AIBEA, held in Kanpur delivered his maiden speech and first time met Com. H.L. Parvana and some other leaders of bank employees’ movement.
His tenure as general secretary of AIBEA (from 1980 till his unfortunate death on May 2, 2003) was replete with his visionary leadership and bold initiatives. Com. Tarak organized a massive “March to Parliament” of about 40000 bank employees from all over the country, decision taken in the Bangalore Conference of AIBEA in 1985, seeing the challenges afflicting the public sector banks. He had shown the boldness by publishing, first time, the list of bank loan defaulters which reflected his courage to challenge the powers that be unmindful of its consequences. He was so bold that he had challenged the IBA and reopened the signed 5th BPS on the ‘issue of relativity’. The people and IBA were saying as to how a written, signed settlement could be reopened. But it happened and the bank employees got an increase in their wage.
In 1990-91 he visited USA, there he saw the rate of interest were very low, so coming back to India he started the agitation for “Pension for Banking Industry” and in 1994, Jaipur Conference, Com. Tarak ensured the victory of AIBEA over all others by achieving “Pension Settlement” against the worst odds created by all the unions of banking industry. But because of farsightedness and vision of Com. Tarak, we could see as to how he mobilized all these unions under the umbrella of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), in 1996 in Kolkata, and presented a united platform to face the emerging attacks in bank industry.
In the year 2000, in AIBEA’s Mumbai Conference, Tarakda gave the slogans like “Defend Jobs Defeat Attacks on Job Security,” “Defend Public Sector Banking, Defeat Attempts of Privatisation” and today we realize how farsighted, he was.
Com. Tarak was a unique leader who could sense what was needed for the hour and he organized and prepared accordingly. The bank employees used to address him as ‘Dada’. He devoted his whole life for the bank employees and for AIBEA. He was a leader of world fame. He had visited many countries because of his role in the trade union. He was the President of the Banking Branch of Trade Union International of Public Service Employees under WFTU.
Com. Tarak passed away on May 2, 2003, twelve years ago, though it seems as if he is still alive and with the banking movement. Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti, with his determination, farsightedness and vision, shall continue to inspire us to equip our organization to face the multiple challenges before the bank employees.
To all of us, like our illustrious leaders Com. Prabhat Kar and Com. H.L. Parvana, Tarakda will ever inspire us in our continuing fight. Leaders like Tarakda live beyond the grave and to them, death signifies nothing more than mere consigning their mortal remains to nature. But they live for ever because they stood for a cause and gave their life for the same.
Tarakda gave his life to building a strong AIBEA and the same commitment from all of us will be the proper tribute and homage to this great leader. Tarakda lives on and lives on for ever because he lives in the hearts of millions of bank employees.
We fondly remember him on the occasion of his 90th birthday and pledge to work along the path laid by him.
It is so befitting that just on the eve of his 90th birthday, we will be signing the 10th Bipartite Settlement. We shall dedicate the settlement in respectful memory of Tarakda.