(Last Updated on : 01/08/2015)
Bhikaiji Rusto Cama was a most important freedom fighter and Indian social activist dedicated her life for Indias independence.
Early Life of Madam Bhikaji Cama
Madam Bhikaji Cama was born as Bhikai Sorab Patel on 24th September in the year 1861 in Bombay Presidency
) in a large, well-off Parsi family. Her parents, Sorabji Framji Patel and Jaijibai Sorabji Patel, were well known in the city, where her father Sorabji was a lawyer by training and a merchant by profession was an influential member of the Parsi
Social Work of Bhikai Sorab Patel
In October 1896, the Bombay Presidency was hit first by famine, and shortly thereafter by bubonic plague. Bhikai Sorab Patel joined one of the many teams working out of Grant Medical College (which would subsequently become Haffkine's plague vaccine research centre), in an effort to provide care for the afflicted, and (later) to inoculate the healthy. Cama subsequently contracted the plague herself, but survived. Severely weakened, she was sent to Britain for medical care in 1901. Bhikai Sorab Patel was preparing to return to India in 1908 when she came in contact with Shyamji Krishna Varma, who was well known in London's Indian community for fiery nationalist speeches he gave in Hyde Park. Through him, she met Dadabhai Naoroji, then president of the British Committee of the Indian National Congress
, and for whom she came to work as private secretary. Together with Naoroji and Singh Rewabhai Rana, Cama supported the founding of Varma's Indian Home Rule Society in February 1905. In London, she was told that her return to India would be prevented unless Bhikai Sorab Patel would sign a statement promising not to participate in nationalist activities. She refused.
Design of the "Flag of Indian Independence"
The design of the "Flag of Indian Independence" was raised by Bhikhaiji Cama on 22 August 1907, at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, Germany.
Based on the Calcutta Flag, the green, yellow and red fields represent Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism
respectively. The crescent and the sun again represent Islam and Hinduism. The eight lotuses in the upper register represent the eight provinces of British India. The words in the middle are in Devanagri script and read Vande Mataram
, the slogan of the Indian National Congress. The design was adopted in 1914 as the emblem of the Berlin Committee (later known as the Indian Independence Committee). The original flag raised by Cama in Stuttgart is now on display at the Maratha and Kesari Library in Pune
Exile of Bhikai Sorab Patel
Madam Bhikaji Cama was in exile in Europe, during the First World War until 1935, when, gravely ill and paralysed by a stroke that she had suffered earlier that year, she petitioned the British government through Sir Cowasji Jehangir to be allowed to return home.
Personal Life of Bhikai Sorab Patel
On 3 August 1885, she married Rustom Cama, who was son of K. R. Cama. Her husband was a wealthy, pro-British lawyer who aspired to enter politics. It was not a happy marriage, and Bhikhaiji spent most of her time and energy in philanthropic activities and social work.
She died at the age of 74, at Parsi General Hospital on 13 August 1936.