Iconic Gita Press in crisis amid labour dispute

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Sep 4 (IANS) The printing machines at the famed Gita Press here have fallen silent for the first time in 92 years of its existence.

The leading publishing house, which has so far churned out more than 120 million copies of the Bhagwad Gita and 92.2 million copies of the Ram Charitmanas, is battling its worst ever crisis. But amid mounting speculation that Gita Press may finally close down, the management says that will never happen.

A management official told IANS on the condition of anonymity: “Something as historic and rich as the Gita Press cannot be closed down.

“There are millions of subscribers and customers of our products across the world. Their emotions are attached to us. We cannot, at any cost, let them down.”

The management and the workers are daggers drawn over a host of issues including pay hike, revision of housing allowance and reinstatement of the employees sacked after leading a rebellion in December last year.

Despite more than 20 meetings and attempts by well-wishers on both sides, there has been no breakthrough.

The Gita Press management is, however, toying with the idea of shifting the Gorakhpur unit to some other place, an informed source told IANS.

But the “curtains would never come down on the Gita Press”, the source added.

The official, however, asked people not to fall in the trap of requests being made on social networking sites to financially support the Gita Press.

“The problem we are facing is labour related, not financial,” the official explained.

“In the past few weeks, the account number of the ‘Kalyan’ magazine found way on a social media site after which funds started pouring in.”

The management has now frozen the account and asked people not to send it funds.

Megh Singh Chauhan, the assistant manager of Gita Press, blamed the deadlock on what he said were “stubborn employee leaders who are not ready to listen to the management”.

On the contrary, workers union leader Munishawar Mishra said the management was not concerned about the “justified demands of the workers”.

Gita Press is a unit of Gobind Bhawan Karyalaya, registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (presently governed by the West Bengal Societies Act, 1960). It was founded in 1923.

The institution’s main objective, its trustees say, was to promote and spread the principles of Sanatana Dharma and Hindu religion by publishing the Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads, Puranas, discourses of eminent saints and other character-building books and magazines at subsidised prices.

Over the years, the institution has made available millions of copies of the Gita and Ramayana besides a staggering 580 million copies of the various Upanishads, Puranas et al.

Gita Press brings out publications in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Odiya, Telugu, Kannada and other languages.

“Kalyan” in Hindi and “Kalyana-Kalpataru” in English are monthly magazines.

For now, the uncertain future of Gita Press has scarred its rich past.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in <mailto:mohit.d@ians.in>)

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