20th February 2008 was the first anniversary of the death of former CITU General Secretary and member of the Indian Parliament, Comrade Chittabrata Majumdar.
Caught in the midst of intense preparations for the 8th Congress of SIGTUR soon to be held in Kerala, India, SIGTUR co-ordinator Rob Lambert provided his personal reflection on a person of great stature in International working class struggle, a friend and comrade.
"Together with Comrade Pandhe and other keyleaders in CITU, Chittabrata was deeply committed to SIGTUR and its conception of a new labour internationalism, which seeks to re-empower labor movements confronted with the consolidated force of global corporations, international finance capital and conservative politics. Despite his wide ranging local commitments, he worked tirelessly to build SIGTUR. He is the reason why we have sustained this initiative through many difficulties over the past 17 years, for it is leaders like Chittabrata, who have built this new movement in 'the global south'.
He was a quiet, humble man, thin as a reed,big square glasses, faint smile from time to time, quick to engage in lengthy discussion on working class politics. SIGTUR, this wild, untamed tiger, frustrated him many a time. Sometimes,when things were too difficult for whatever reason, he would lead a walkout protest, open up new dialogue and then return to the fray.
We were together in many different situations. I can remember the SIGTUR team sleeping in a house in Northern Malaysia in 1993, where wild dogs barked all night, much to our amusement; the long difficult debates over SIGTUR's principles for participation at the Regional Coordinating Committee meeting in Johannesburg in 1996; the lively discussions with a young COSATU leader over the character of modern day China; his lengthy theoretical analysis of the transition from feudalism to capitalism in India; the excellent Congress he organized in Calcutta in 1997.
Perhaps his death and my sense of personal loss, tells us something about the nature of our movement. What drives us is our deep concern for society; our values based on solidarity, commitment, justice, human dignity. Market society uses persons as instruments to an end, without any consideration of their intrinsic value, so when a friend dies, is no longer with us, we feel an acute sense of sadness, loss, void.
He would not want us to linger too long over his passing. I can hear his voice,‘Rob, I am not important, you know that. What is important is that we continue to struggle'. My reply would be, ‘No,Chittabrata, you are important, always a part of us now, your enduring commitment strengthening us for what lies ahead'.
He will be proud of CITU as it prepares to host the 8th Congress in Kochi."