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Unable to read or write, still hold degrees - They are Malegaon's Mukadams

Wednesday October 05, 2011 06:24:54 PM, Staff Reporter

ITI Principal SR Ahire (third from left) taking exams. Shafeeque Mukadam is on his left.


Malegaon: 65-year old Mohammad Salahuddin 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

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 who pass.

"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 consistent exploitation.

"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 added.







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