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  • Ruhani Mirchandani

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay- A Social Activist And Feminist

We have not heard of many female freedom fighters. Many of them have been unknown to us or forgotten. Such a noteworthy personality is Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who slipped away from our memory. She made significant contributions to our society, as a social reformer, feminist, and colored activist. Kamaladevi developed a likeness for traditional art forms, growing up at a place where cultural heritage was rich. She was married off at fourteen years of age and widowed after two years. Later, Kamaladevi married Harindranath Chattopadhyay. At that time very few women remarried after being widowed but Kamaladevi revolted against such constraints.


Harindranath and Kamala Devi both loved theatre and travelled the country producing plays and skits. Her second marriage ended in a legal divorce which was historically important for those times. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was a representation of self-empowerment. She did so much as a woman that it amazed me. She stood for the Madras elections and lost by a very small number of votes. Kamaladevi did a lot to improve women’s status in society. During the Dandi March, she persuaded Gandhi to give an equal position to women. She was sent to jail where she caught jaundice. She built a hospital for patients after their release, after she had a terrible experience at the prison hospital. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay did not stop doing good for society and yet most of the people in our country do not know about her. During World War II she visited America and met with numerous coloured political activists and told them about their non-violent policy for achieving independence. The British got to know about her activism and prohibited her from returning to India. She was not moved and travelled to other countries sharing the policy.


The British had destroyed Indian handicrafts but Kamaladevi revived the handlooms. Kamaladevi acted in many movies and at that time the film industry was not a place where women were treated fairly. Her quote “Let men learn to be equal to women first.” greatly moved me. Kamaladevi did what no one could do and was way ahead of her time. Even today many cannot gather the courage to fight for women and their rights. There were many great freedom fighters but we often ignore the ones who have fought tirelessly so we can live peacefully today.



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