Google Doodle celebrates the 115th birthday of the Kamladevi Chattopadhyay

Elias Hubbard
April 3, 2018

She died on October 29, 1988. Her father-in-law was unusually liberal-minded.

Born in a Saraswat Brahmin community of Mangalore, Kamaladevi was greatly inspired by Gandhian ideas and the concept of non-violence.

It was the time in India when Mahatma Gandhi gave a call for freedom not only from colonialism but also India's own problems of untouchability, and poverty. Her dedication saw her soon being put in charge the organisation's women's department that recruited and trained women of all ages across India to become voluntary workers. Her father being a government officers had 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 Chattopadhyay an early enthusiast of the swadeshi nationalist movement.

Her career was one of many firsts - from being the first woman to be arrested by the British for selling contraband salt, to becoming the first woman to run for Legislative office. She also publicly opposed child marriage. The illustration includes a caricature of the social reformer surrounded by artistes and artisans to symbolise her contribution to the setting up of key cultural institutions in the country, including the National School of Drama, World Crafts Council and the Sangeet Natak Academy.

She further worked persistently for the betterment of the socio-economic standard of the Indian women by revolutionary the cooperative movement. To this end she withstood great opposition both before and after independence from the power centres.

We Indians are so proud that an extraordinary woman like Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay walked amongst us. She also played a major role in promoting art, dance, drama, puppetry, music and handicrafts.

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