Com. TARAKESWAR CHAKRABORTI
Former General Secretary, AIBEA (1980-2003)
Former General Secretary, AICBEF (1957-1993)
Former President, AICBEF (1993-2003)
Com. TARAKESWAR CHAKRABORTI
-our beloved Dada
AIBEA suffered a massive blow when on the may of May 2003 the General Secretary of AIBEA Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti passed away in Kolkata Airport while returning from Mumbai after some organisatioal work. Words are insufficient to measure the extent of loss that has been caused by his death. After the demise of Com. Parvana and Com. Prabhat Kar, Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti took over the reigns of the organisation and came to symbolize the hopes and aspirations of the multitudes of bank employees under the glorious banner of AIBEA. In the last more than two decades he had taken the organisation to great heights in tune with the traditions of AIBEA. His death is an irreparable loss, the void of which can never be filled-up.
Tarakda, Tarak, Dada – as he was affectionately and intimately known to his colleagues and comrades strode the banking trade union scenario like a gentle colossus and became a legend in his own life time.
Com. Tarakeswar Chakraborti was born on 2nd June, 1926 to Shri Sashikanta Chakraborti and Smt. Hiranmoyee Devi at Lakshmipur, a small town in District Noakhali, which is now in Bangladesh. He had his early education in his village and after Matriculation came to Kolkata for higher education. He passed B.A. in 1945 with high distinction from Ashutosh College. It was at this time of his life in college that he had initiation in social work as Secretary of Students’ Relief Society. During the period of the infamous Bengal Famine, he worked amongst the various ranks of the poor people, which gave him a proper outlook on life. Because of the extreme pecuniary exigencies, he was taking private tuitions even as a student to help his parents.
Because of the financial limitations of his parents, he discontinued his MA Degree Course and joined Central Bank of India on 1st January 1946. Some months after, AIBEA was born and then in July 1946, when Central Bank of India Employees’ Association was formed in Kolkata, he became a member of the union.
In January 1947, he became the Assistant Secretary of Central Bank Employees’ Association, West Bengal and thus started his journey in the trade union movement. He had dedicated his entire life to the cause of bank employees’ movement. In 1956, he became the Central Committee Member of AIBEA, its Assistant Secretary in 1960, its Secretary in 1976 and was elected as General Secretary of AIBEA in 1980 at the Allahabad Conference. Since then he had been steering the AIBEA under his matchless leadership.
He was also the main architect of the Central Bank employees’ movement. He was the founder Treasurer of All India Central Bank Employees’ Federation in 1956. From 1957 to 1993, he was its General Secretary when in 1993 he opted to become its President, which post he held till his death. He had built up a very strong joint trade union movement of employees and officers in Central Bank. Till his death, he was also the President of both the Employees’ and Officers’ Unions in West Bengal, Sikkim, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand. Similarly, he was closely associated with the Bengal Provincial Bank Employees’ Association and held various positions in the same. Bengal Provincial Bank Employees’ Association and held various positions in the same. He was also associated with trade unions in various banks.
He was also equally acquainted with the general trade union movement in our country and abroad. He had traveled to many parts of the world and participated in various international conferences. He was actively associated with the Trade Union International (Public and Allied Employees) and was its Vice President. He was also the President of the Bank Branch of the TUI. He was an ardent communist and was a member of the National Council of the Communist Party of India.
He was associated with various Tribunals and Settlements in the banking industry right from Sastry Tribunal in 1951 and had been a signatory to all the Industry-level Bipartite Settlements since 1966. After the death of Com. Prabhat Kar, he successfully steered the 5th, 6th and 7th Bipartite Settlements. Com. Tarakda will be particularly ever remembered for his achieving the Pension Settlement in 1993 against heavy odds.
While he was closely associated with the AIBEA’s campaign and struggle for Bank Nationalisation in 1969, he played a very sterling role in fighting against attempts and bank privatization. Bank employees will ever remember his pioneering initiatives in building a tough resistance against the Government’s ill-advised moves to privatise the Banks. His bold initiative in publishing the List of Bank Loan Defaulters was reflective of his patriotic commitments to the cause of national development and the role of banks therein.
Realising the changing needs for broader unity and strong united actions to protect and preserve the gains of the movement, Com. Tarakda played a stellar role in building up the United Forum of Bank Unions – the umbrella platform which today represents 100% of the employees and officers in the Banking industry. His spirit of understanding and accommodation in propelling a united movement has been acclaimed by everyone. Similarly, he also realised that women employees have to be organised, activated and integrated in the organisational activities and took a lot of initiatives. If today, women employees are getting represented to some extent in the organisation at various levels including in the Central Committee and Office Bearers team of AIBEA, it is in no less measure due to the persistent efforts of Tarakda.
In the fast changing scenario of increasing hostile attacks on the trade unions, their rights, the jobs and job security of the employees, Tarakda labored had to bring in necessary changes in the orientation of our movement from mere fighting for economic demands to shifting the priorities to fighting fundamental attacks. His slogans of “DEFEAT DENATIONALISATION-DEFEAT DE-UNIONISATION” exemplify his vision and far-sightedness.
Tiredness was unknown in his dictionary and he traveled extensively and undertook intensive tour to inspire the masses of the employees in our struggles. His powerful oration and speeches impacted and influenced the minds of the employees to fight under the banner of trade union. His elephantine memory about dates and events and people was amazing and a wonder to everyone. He was an able organiser, effective agitator and skillful negotiator. He was a voracious reader. He was a strict disciplinarian but at the same time he always strived for practical solutions to the various problems that arose in the organisation. He was tough with the managements but never failed to appreciate their viewpoints. Notwithstanding the fact that he suffered a heart attack in 1987 and underwent a bypass surgery in 1989, despite Doctor’s advice to restrict his activities, he continued his unrelenting mission with total dedication to the cause he cherished.
Those who moved with him knew of his intellectual capacity, amazing brilliance and the wonderful softness of the heart. He became the leader of leaders and yet he was a man of the masses.
In his 55 years of continuous trade union activity, he had become a titan and a colossus. But his death has created a void, which cannot be filled up. The death of this illustrious leader is a grievous blow and a great loss to our movement. His life-long crusading fight was an inspiration to the entire middle-class trade union movement in general and bank employees’ movement in particular.
Remembering Tarakda for his lifelong contribution and mission will give us the courage, confidence and hope for the furtherance of the cause for which he stood for and to dedicate ourselves to work for the same.
Tarakda was perhaps one of the last links between the fast fading generation of bank employees who had founded and built up this mighty AIBEA and the present generation of employees. To all of us, like our illustrious leaders Com. Prabhat Kar & Com.H.L. Parvana, Com. Tarakda will ever inspire us in our continuing fight.
Leaders like Com. Tarakda live beyond the grave and to them, death signified nothing more than mere consigning their mortal remains to nature. But they live for ever because they stood for a cause and give their life for the same.
The real homage that we shall pay to Tarakda would be to take a pledge that we shall work to fulfill his unfinished tasks and dreams. The task is stupendous because we have lost our leader. Let’s close our ranks, work cohesively and unitedly and move forward. Let us give a befitting account of ourselves in taking forward our beloved AIBEA whose baton Tarakda was carrying all these years.
To think of AIBEA without Tarakda is very difficult because he came to symbolize the hopes and aspiratons of the entire bank employees’ movement and was the spirit and total driving force behind all our endeavours. The task before all AIBEA men and women is to re-dedicate ourselves to the ideals of AIBEA and to keep the flag of AIBEA fluttering ever high in the sky.
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.
TARAKDA AMAR RAHE