Her father was the District Collector while her mother was a successor of an aristocrat family at that time. It was much easier for Kamaladevi to inherit all of the knowledge that her ancestors had. Kamaladevi was the youngest child among four children in the family. She was a phenomenal student since childhood. She got married at early age when she was 14 years old.
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Kamala Devi was a pioneer in all senses — a freedom fighter, an entrepreneur, a reformer, a feminist. Her life was enveloped by tragedy. She was a victim of the worst kind of traditional practices. Being widowed in her early years, the death of her father, the ill-treatment of her mother followed by the death of her sister. But none of these events stopped her from pursuing the larger cause. Her formative years coincided with the development of the Indian National movement.
Public figures such as Gokhale, Anne Beasant, Ranade were common in her everyday life and provided political inspiration. Art and theatre also played a major role in her life. She used theatre as a medium to promote social issues and as a catalyst for transformation leaving legendary marks in the field. Among other institutions that Kamaladevi helped create and nurture were the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the India International Centre ; which are successful institutions even today. Dr Annie Besant and Mahatma Gandhi were significant influences in her life.
The Civil Disobedience Movement was her first encounter with Gandhi. She convinced Gandhi to not restrict the march only to men. This was the first public instance portraying her persuasion skills. It brought to light the fact that a strong and fearless woman had entered the Indian political scene. She took the onus of protection of Indian craft industry on herself. Her involvement with the craft was deep, she travelled the length and breadth of the country safeguarding it.
She established the All India Handicrafts Board and headed it for twenty years. She formed cooperatives to market the products of craftsmen and to provide them credit and instituted awards to motivate them, this was one of the earliest examples of Self-Help Groups. She urged state governments to cut out middlemen and deal directly with craftsmen, source their products and sell them through their own emporia.
That Indian crafts are still alive and, moreover, have a visible national and international presence, is owed more to Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay than to any other individual. She worked for women and their development. Being a true feminist, hers was the most desirable notion of feminism which is contested even today.
It rather seeks to instil in them a consciousness of their own faculties and functions and create a respect for those of the other sex. Her ideologies were based on how women must be recognized as a social and economic factor. It is tragic how tradition puts a lower value on home production and services.
This non-pecuniary and non-competitive character has lowered the prestige of women. Kamla Devi had brief direct political presence. She stood for the first general elections and lost the race only by 55 votes. However, after India became independent in , she refused to enter formal politics.
Kamaladevi was also an original thinker, whose writings on politics and social reform continue to speak to us today. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay died in , leaving her imprints on the Indian society. It is however sad that a figure with such indispensable contribution remains lost in the shadows of history. The legacy of bravery, feminism, and co-working she has left continues to inspire the youth of today.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay – India’s Forgotten Feminist Icon
Email Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was an Indian activist, who was involved in the support and development of Indian handicrafts, including textiles and embroidery. Her parents were regarded as intellectual liberals, and were actively involved in various political especially nationalist movements. Kamaladevi was married in to Krishna Rao when she was 14 years old. Two years later she was widowed.
Google doodle celebrates Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, feminist freedom fighter and culture queen
Early life[ edit ] Born on 3 April in Mangaluru , Kamaladevi was the fourth and youngest daughter of her parents. Her father, Ananthayya Dhareshwar, was the District Collector of Mangalore, and her mother, Girijabai, from whom she inherited an independent streak, belonged to a land-owning Chitrapur Saraswat brahmana family from coastal Karnataka. Together, their presence in the household gave Kamaladevi a firm grounding and provided benchmarks to respect for her intellect as well as her voice, something that she came to be known for in the future. Kamaladevi was an exceptional student and also exhibited qualities of determination and courage from an early age. Her parents befriended many prominent freedom fighters and intellectuals such as Mahadev Govind Ranade , Gopal Krishna Gokhale , and women leaders like Ramabai Ranade , and Annie Besant. This made young Kamaladevi an early enthusiast of the swadeshi nationalist movement. Girijabai defiantly refused the allowance and decided to raise her daughters on her dowry property.
Kamala Devi was a pioneer in all senses — a freedom fighter, an entrepreneur, a reformer, a feminist. Her life was enveloped by tragedy. She was a victim of the worst kind of traditional practices. Being widowed in her early years, the death of her father, the ill-treatment of her mother followed by the death of her sister. But none of these events stopped her from pursuing the larger cause.