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Women who made a difference

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN

The fight for Independence saw many women leave the comfort of their homes to join the battle. Mentioned here are a few…


As early as in the 18th century, the battle for a free India raged. In an act of courage and determination, women came out to fight for independence.

Rani Velu Nachiyar was one such — the first queen of Tamil origin to fight against the British in India. She was the princess of Ramnad, and the daughter of Chellamuthu Sethupathy. She married the Raja of Siva Gangai and they had a daughter — Vellachi Nachiar. When her husband was killed, she was drawn into battle. In 1780 Rani Velu Nachiyar fought the British and won the battle.

An icon of bravery is Lakshmi Bai — the Rani of Jhansi. She was one of the leading figures of the First Indian Struggle for Independence (also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857). She studied self defence, horsemanship, archery, and even formed her own army. She defied the British as they did not accept her adopted son under the Doctrine of Lapse.

Another unforgettable woman freedom fighter was the queen of Kittur in Karnataka, Kitturu Rani Chennamma. In 1824, she led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of Lapse.

“When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing to do is rise and say this shall cease today, because my right is justice,” said Sarojini Naidu. Born in 1879 in Hyderabad she was a freedom fighter and poet. She was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was known as “The Nightingale of India”. She fought for the rights of women.

In 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi and was active in the Indian Independence Movement. She joined in the Salt March to Dandi and led the Dharasana Satyagraha after the arrests of Gandhiji and others.

Born in Nangkao village of Manipur, Rani Gaidinliu joined the freedom struggle at the age of 13. She came in contact with the political and spiritual leader of the Nagas ,Haripau Jadonang, who started a movement to drive away the British from Manipur. When Jadonang was hanged by the British, Gaidinliu took over the leadership. When the British tried to suppress the movement, she went underground. She was captured in 1932, at the age of 16 and imprisoned for life. She was freed in 1947 after India became free. Jawaharlal Nehru called her “Rani of the Nagas” for her indomitable spirit and aggressive fight against the British.

The struggle for independence was of epic proportion and the people who struggled for it were heroes. Though only a few have been highlighted here, the thousands who fought are not forgotten or unsung. They are thought of with deep gratitude and continue to be a source of inspiration.

They also fought...

Kasturba Gandhi

Aruna Asaf Ali

Indira Gandhi

Kamala Nehru

Vijayalakshmi Pandit

Lakshmi Sehgal (Captain

Lakshmi)

Madam Cama

Begum Hazrat Mahal

Padmaja Naidu

Sucheta Kripalani

Sister Nivedita

Annie Besant

Meera nd Sarla Ben

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