To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Indian Republic the words of freedom series showcases the landmark speeches and writings of fourteen visionary leaders whose thought animated the Indian struggle for independence and whose revolutionary ideas and actions forged the republic of Indian as know it today.
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Best known as a poet, Sarojini Naidu was also, and perhaps more significantly, a distinguished leader of the freedom movement. She was the first Indian woman to be elected president of the Indian National Congress, and worked closely with Gandhi, Nehru, Gokhale, Jinnah and other leaders in the struggle against British rule. In the months leading up to Independence, she served as a member of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution of free India.
This volume brings together Sarojini Naidu’s best-known and most influential speeches, which span almost the entire first half of the 20th century. With great passion and rhetorical flair, she argues for enlightened and inclusive nationalism, women’s suffrage, the abolition of the caste system and Hindu-Muslim unity. These were ideals she dedicated her life to, and they are also central to the vision of India contained in the country’s Constitution.
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) was a prominent leader of India’s freedom movement she was the first Indian women to be elected president of the Indian national congress and after Independence the first women to be the governor of a state.
The celebrated poet Sarojini Naidu— popularly known as the Nightingale of India was a prominent leader of India’s freedom movement and a passionate and influential feminist. Her formidable intellect, strong sense of justice and her impatience with chauvinism and parochialism of any kind gave a special character to her nationalism; it isn’t surprising that so much of what she believed informs the spirit of the Indian Constitution.
Born in February 1 879 in Hyderabad, Sarojini Naidu was the eldest child of Barada Sundari Devi, a noted Bengali poet, and Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, a scientist and philosopher who was also the founder of Nizam College. After early studies in Hyderabad and Madras, she went to Cambridge in 1895 on a scholarship from the Nizam of Hyderabad. At seventeen, she fell in love with Dr Muthyala Naidu and married him two years later, at a time when inter-caste marriages had no sanction and were virtually unknown.
Sarojini Naidu joined the Independence movement in the wake of the partition of Bengal in 1905, when she met and was heavily influenced by the Congress leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Later, she became an ardent and life-long admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. She was the first to join the Non-co operation movement that he launched in 1919 to protest the Rowlatt Act. She was also with him during the Dandi Salt March of 1930, and after his arrest, led hundreds of vohmteers against a brutal police force on a non-violent raid of the salt works at Dharasana. During the Quit India movement of 1942, she was Gandhi’s closest ally, and was in prison with him for twenty-one months.Thro1.lgh this time she also worked closely with Nehru, Jinnah, Malviya and other leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League. In 1925, she was elected President of the INC, becoming the first Indian woman to hold the position, and became a member of the Congress Working Committee in 1928.
A brilliant orator, Sarojini Naidu had the rare ability to motivate people by communicating with passion and eloquence the ideals that were at the heart of India’s struggle for independence and self-respect. She travelled extensively throughout the country, and also abroad—to England, Africa, Sri Lanka and the USA—speaking against foreign rule, regionalism, and caste and class discrimination. Few people have argued with as much conviction and integrity for equality, universal suffrage, Hindu—Muslim Unity and the dignity of labour.
In the months leading up to Independence Sarojini Naidu played a significant role as a member of the constituent assembly in framing the constitution of India. At independence on 15 August 1947 she was nominated governor of Uttar Pradesh and become India first women governor. She died in office tow year later in March 1914.
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