Monday, July 2, 2007

Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu, the eldest daughter of scientist-philosopher, Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, and Barada Sundari Devi, a poetess was born on 13 February 1879 in Hyderabad. Her father was also a linguist, a crusader, who established the Nizam's College in Hyderabad in 1878, pioneering English and women's education.

Sarojini was a bright child who passed her matriculation at the age of 12 standing first in the Madras Presidency. She studied at the King's college, London and Girton College, Cambridge for a while. During this period her creative urge found expression in poems. She also happened to be a good singer. Her ability to sing charmingly fetched her the title 'Nightingale of India'. After 1917 she stepped into active politics. In 1898 she married Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu.

During 1903-17 Sarojini came into contact with Gokhale, Tagore, Jinnah, Annie Besant, C.P.Rama Swami Iyer, Gandhi and Nehru. She began her political career in 1906. From 1915 to 1918 she lectured all over India on welfare of youth, dignity of labour, women's emancipation and nationalism. After meeting Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916, she took up the cause of the indigo workers of Champaran. In 1925 she was elected as the President of the Congress.

Sarojini actively campaigned for the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, the Khilafat issue, the Rowlatt Act, the Sabarmati Pact, the Satyagraha Pledge and the Civil Disobedience Movement.
In 1919, she went to England as a member of the all-India Home Rule Deputation. After 1920 she toured widely as the President of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee opposed Council entry in Calcutta and protested against the anti-Moplah measures in Calicut.

From 1922-26 she espoused the cause of Indians in South Africa, she took part in the Salt Satyagraha and the Round Table Conference in London and campaigned for participation of women and youth in the public life. She organised a National Week in 1940 rallied against the Cripps Mission to India and was jailed in 1942 on the Quit India Resolution of the AICC in Bombay.

She was the first woman Governor of UP. Her Presidentship of the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 was remarkable. At the age of seventy on 02 March 1949 she died in office at Lucknow.

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