ITI Principal SR Ahire (third from
left) taking exams. Shafeeque Mukadam is on his left.
Malegaon: 65-year old
is just 4th standard pass. His reading skill is limited to a glance
or two on newspapers while sipping tea at restaurants and writing
skill to dotting down some figures on the back of cigarette cases.
But Friday September 30 will always be marked as the historic day in
the life of Salahudidin and 700+ others with equal education levels,
who after clearing the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open
University (YCMOU) exams conducted specially for them, now form the
unique chunk of people in the world who can neither read nor write
yet hold university degrees.
The remarkable moment for the Mukadams of Malegaon - as the head
mechanics are referred in Malegaon, came because of the efforts taken by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Society, a local NGO, which has taken onto itself
the upliftment of powerloom labourers.
"I used to wonder why these Mukadams who are technically so sound
and work so hard do not have any recognised qualification. They are
so skilled yet could not attribute any qualification while filling
application forms. This forced me to do something for these poor
chaps", Ateeque Shaikh, secretary of the NGO and the exam
coordinator, said while speaking to ummid.com.
Ateeque discussed the matter with YCMOU Vice Chancellor Dr
Krishnakumar who after knowing these Mukadam's technical calibre
agreed to conduct exams on them and also to issue degrees to those
"Consequently, an eight member YCMOU team led by Principal of ITI SR
Ahire came from Nashik and conducted the exam which was based on
oral and practical. They were assisted by equal number of
senior Mukadams of Malegaon. An estimated 700 Mukadams of different
age groups appeared for the exams. Those passing the exams will be
given degrees in a special convocation ceremony to be held in
Malegaon later this month", Ateeque informed.
On the expected lines the YCMOU's move to recognise the skills of
these Mukkadams - undoubtedly the backbone of the local powerloom
industry, is applauded. But the big question which remains to
be answered is if YCMOU recognition will earn them a recognition
from their masters too? For, the Mukadams who work for more than 12
hours are poorly paid and alleged to have been resorted to
"As compared to other textile centres in the country, our work load
is more. They have weekly offs and national holidays, we do not have
such privileges. Despite this, the salary we get is far less", said
Khurshid Mukadam, who came to give the exams.
A look at the salary chart reveals that while the Mukadams at places
like Ichalkiranji, Bhiwandi and Sholapuar have the working hours of
eight hours and monthly salaries in the range of 15 to 16000, the
Mukadams in Malegaon do not have any fixed working hours and get
salaries in the range of 5 to 6000 per month.
Ask them if they
expect any positive revision in their salaries after YCMOU
recognition, they replied, almost unanimously:
"We are no more than bonded labourers in the hands of powerloom
factory owners. What kind of positive change we can expect from them
who don't even grant us National holidays."
"But we are happy that YCMOU degrees
will at least give us and our children a recognised identity", they