New Delhi: Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 115th birth anniversary of Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, a social reformer who participated in India’s freedom struggle. Her views on women’s rights issues are as relevant in the modern times.
Born on 3 April 1903 in Mangalore, Kamladevi gradually emerged as one of the few feminist freedom fighters the country has seen. Even after India’s independence in 1947, she continued to work for the refugees and also contributed to the cultural landscape. The Google doodle offers glimpses of her body of work. Kamladevi Chattopadhyay was a driving force behind setting up of key cultural institutions in the country including National School of Drama, World Crafts Council and Sangeet Natak Academy.
She lost her father at the age of seven, was married at the age of 14 and lost her husband at the age of 16. A widow at a very young age, Kamladevi travelled to London to study. She joined Indian National Congress in 1927 and gradually became the first Indian woman to be arrested by British for entering Bombay Stock Exchange and sell packets of contraband salt in 1930. In fact, Kamladevi – a rebel in her own right – also disagreed with Mahatama Gandhi when he opposed inclusion of women in salt satyagraha.
She was also the first Indian women to run for a political office. In 1926, after she met the founder of All India Women’s Congress, Margaret Cousins, Kamladevi contested for a seat in Madras Legislative assembly, however, she lost by just 55 votes.In her memoir, she stressed on how “women had no rights” at that time. She also pressed for Uniform Civil Code to ensure gender equality and often voiced her opinion against child marriage. During her travels to the United States, she befriended many American feminists to expand her worldview.
Indian author Raja Rao described the social reformer as “perhaps the most august woman on the Indian scene today. Firmly Indian and therefore universal, highly sophisticated both in sensibility and intelligence, she walks with everyone, in city and country with utter simplicity.”
She died on October 29, 1988.