Sarojini Naidu | A Symbol of Women Empowerment

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Her Life: The Nightingale of India

  • Year 1879 – Born in Hyderabad.
  • Year 1905 – Published her first volume of poetries “The Golden Threshold”.
  • Year 1925 – Became the first Indian woman to hold the post of President of INC.
  • Year 1949 – Passed away in Lucknow due to cardiac arrest.

“A country’s greatness lies in its undying ideals of love and sacrifice that inspire the mothers of the race. “

The Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu was a prolific writer, orator and poet. She also fought for Indian Independence and has given notable contribution in the movement. She was the first Indian woman appointed as president of Indian National Congress and the first woman to be appointed Governor of any state in India.

Childhood

Sarojini Naidu was born to Aghorenath Chattopadhyay and Barada Sundari Devi Chattopadhyay on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad. Her father was a scientist, philosopher and political educator. She was the eldest among the siblings. Her father was one of the cofounders of Nizam College and was also the first member of Indian National Congress in Hyderabad.

Personal Life

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She went to the University of Madras and pursued her higher education from King’s College, London and then studied at Girton College, Cambridge. Sarojini Naidu married Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu, who was the love of her life. She met him in the college and both grew close by the end of her college. Upon finishing her studies at age 19, she married him in 1898 during a period when inter-caste marriages were rare and considered a crime in the society. Nonetheless, the successful marriage of the couple prevented people from intervening into their personal life. The couple had four children; Jayasurya, Padmaja, Randheer and Leelamani.

Career Journey

Sarojini Naidu started developing a liking and had a passion for reading and writing poems during her college where she became proficient in many languages including Urdu, English, Persian, Telugu and Bengali. The first volume of her poetries – The Golden Threshold was published in 1905, after which 2 more publications The Bird of Time and The Broken Wing arrived in 1912 and 1917 respectively. She has embraced the beauty of India in her poems and has also been given the title of Bharat Kokila on account of the beautiful and rhythmic words of her poems.

Sarojini was deeply affected by the partition of Bengal in 1905 and therefore decided to join the freedom struggle. She then set aside her artistic work and stuck to her commitment to the cause. She joined the Indian National Congress and while working in it, she came across many eminent personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and many others with whom she shared a very special bond. During the period of 1915-1918, she travelled across India making people aware on social welfare, women empowerment, emancipation and nationalism. She also provided help and support for the indigo workers in Champaran. In 1925, she became the first Indian woman to hold the post of President of INC.

Awards and Recognition

She was given the title Bharat Kokila due to the rhythmic words in her poem. Sarojini Naidu is commemorated in the names of several institutions, including the Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital and Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad.

Later Life

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She toured North America, raising awareness on the Congress movement, in 1928–29. Back in India, her anti-British activity brought her a number of prison sentences (1930, 1932, and 1942–43). She also accompanied Mahatma Gandhi to London for the indecisive second session of the Round Table Conference for Indian–British cooperation in 1931. Upon the outbreak of World War II, she supported the Congress Party’s policies, first of separation, then of an avowed hindrance to the Allied cause. In 1947, she became governor of the United Provinces (now named Uttar Pradesh), a post that she retained until her death. Unfortunately, she died on March 2, 1949 at the Government house, in Lucknow due to cardiac arrest.

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