Maniben Kara
Maniben Kara
Bombay, British India (now Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
Occupation(s)Social worker, trade unionist
AwardsPadma Shri

Maniben Kara (1905-1979)[1] was an Indian social worker and trade unionist.[2] She was a founder member of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha and served as its president.[3] She was honoured by the Government of India in 1970 with Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award.[4]

Early life

Born in 1905 in Bombay, British India (now Mumbai) in a middle-class family to an Arya Samaj member, Maniben Kara did her schooling at St. Columba High School, Gamdevi, Mumbai and secured a diploma in Social science from the University of Birmingham.[5]


Returning to India in 1929, she got involved with the Independence movement, founded Seva Mandir and a printing press and published Independent India,[6] a nationalist publication for the Indian revolutionary, M. N. Roy.[5] Later, she was known to have been influenced by Narayan Malhar Joshi, one of the early leaders of the All India Trade Union Congress,[7] and started involving in trade union activism.[5] Her area of operations was at the slums of Mumbai, the dwelling place of many of the conservancy workers of the Bombay Improvement Trust.[5] She established a Mothers' Club and a Healthcare Centre and spread the message of hygiene and literacy among the sul dwellers.[5] Later she started social organization called ; Seva Mandir which was later merged with NGO called Bhangini Samaj[1]

The next stage of her work started with organizing workers' unions at Mumbai port and dockyard which later expanded to cover the tailors and textile workers.[5] She joined the All India Trade Union Congress, the trade union arm of the Communist Party of India, and led several labour strikes which led to her arrest and solitary confinement in 1932.[5] After Formation of Congress Ministries in 1937, All India Trade Union Congress and Indian National Congress drifted apart. Maniben was member of Royis Party led by M N Roy. Royst Party Started New central Trade Union Organization named Indian Federation of Labour (IFL). She continued her activities through the days of Indian freedom struggle and was nominated to the Central Legislative Assembly in 1946, entrusted with the responsibility of the labour ministry.[5] Post Independence, After Partition IFL joined Hind Mazdoor Sabha.[1] She was a key member when the Hind Mazdoor Sabha was formed in 1948[8] and was also involved with the All India Railwaymen's Federation and was its former president.[9] She was also a founding member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)[5] and was involved with government committees such as National Committee on the Status of Women[10] and other government initiatives.[11]

Maniben Kara, who never contested in a political election,[12] was honoured by the Government of India with the civilian award of Padma Shri in 1970. Nine years later, she died, at the age of 74.[5] Hind Mazdoor Sabha honoured her by establishing an institute in her name, the Maniben Kara Institute (MKI), in 1980.[3] The Western Railways Union started a trust in her honour, the Maniben Kara Foundation,[13] and maintains the Maniben Kara Foundation Hall, in Grant Road area in Mumbai.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Nayar, Sushila; Mankekar, Kamla, eds. (2003). Women Pioneers In India's Renaissance. National Book Trust, India. p. 469. ISBN 81-237-3766 1.
  2. ^ Geraldine Hancock Forbes (1999). Women in Modern India, Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. p. 290. ISBN 9780521653770.
  3. ^ a b "Labour Rights". Labour Rights. 2015. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Padma Shri" (PDF). Padma Shri. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Stree Shakti". Stree Shakti. 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Independent India". Hathi Trust. 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  7. ^ "N. M. Joshi". The Hindu. 31 May 1955. Retrieved 16 May 2015.[dead link]
  8. ^ Richard L. Park (August 1949). "Labor and Politics in India". Far Eastern Review. 18 (16): 181–187. doi:10.2307/3024423. JSTOR 3024423.
  9. ^ "AIRF". AIRF. 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  10. ^ "National Committee on the Status of Women" (PDF). ICSSR. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  11. ^ "INFLIBNET" (PDF). INFLIBNET. 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  12. ^ Bela Rani Sharma (1998). Women's Rights and World Development. Sarup and sons. p. 383. ISBN 9788176250153.
  13. ^ "Maniben Kara Foundation". Indiacom. 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Maniben Kara Foundation Hall". Mojo Street. 2015. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2015.