(Last Updated on : 24-01-2018)
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was the early founder of the All India Womens Conference
(AIWC). She was one of the greatest protagonists of Art in India
. She was an eloquent speaker and an orator that could make audiences spell bound. She was very much interested in popularizing traditional Indian handicrafts
and was popularly known as the "Hastkala Maa" meaning Mother of Handicrafts. A fearless fighter for social equality, she was the first Indian woman to stand for open political election in the mid-twenties. She was the" supreme romantic heroine" of Gandhiji
's salt Satyagraha
movement, and was the first woman in Bombay Presidency
to be arrested for breaking the salt laws.
Early Life of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was born in the traditional family of Saraswat Brahmins
. She was the daughter of a retired Deputy Collector. She was a victim of child-marriage
and also became a widow at the young age of 12. She again married, at age of 16, against the wishes of her relatives who were caste-conscious. She married Harendranath Chattopadhyay, youngest brother of Sarojini Naidu
Social Works by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi wanted to revive the age-old crafts
from extinction. She found beauty in everything and had a special love for the rural and rustic life. The Indian embroidery
she liked were the trappings for animals
, horses, elephants
and bullocks. She was highly esteemed in the crafts world. The weavers and crafts men used to take of their turbans
and lay it on her feet in reverence.
She was the Chairman of the All India Handicrafts Board
for 17 years and Vice-President for some years of the World Crafts Council with its office in New York. The Central Cottage Industries Emporium in Delhi was her idea. She was the moving spirit behind the Bharatiya Natya Sangh, the Sangeet Natak Akademi
and the Theatre Crafts Museum in Delhi
. Entire communities
of artisans gained recognition and livelihood as a result of her vision and drive.
Political Life of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi fought for equal rights for women. She wanted women to be free and independent. At the age of 23, she secured for women the right to vote. Kamaladevi was the founder-member, and later, the President and Patron, in shaping AIWCs basic structure, policies and programmes.
Kamaladevi became the commander of the women's volunteers' corps during the civil disobedience movement
. She was sentenced four times and she spent a total of five years in jail. After Independence
, she refused the political rewards she received.
Bibliography of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was also a notable author. Some of the books written by her are as follows:
The Awakening of Indian women, Everyman's Press, 1939
Japan-its weakness and strength, Padma Publications 1943
Uncle Sam's empire, Padma publications Ltd, 1944
In war-torn China, Padma Publications, 1944
Towards a National theatre, (All India Women's Conference, Cultural Section), Aundh Pub. Trust, 1945
America: The land of superlatives, Phoenix Publications, 1946
At the Cross Roads, National Information and Publications, 1947
Socialism and Society, Chetana, 1950
Tribalism in India, Brill Academic Pub, 1978
Handicrafts of India, Indian Council for Cultural Relations & New Age International Pub. Ltd., New Delhi, India, 1995
Indian Women's Battle for Freedom, South Asia Books, 1983
Indian Carpets and Floor Coverings, All India Handicrafts Board, 1974.
Indian embroidery, Wiley Eastern, 1977
India's Craft Tradition, Publications Division, Ministry of I & B, Govt. of India, 2000
Indian Handicrafts Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Bombay India, 1963.
Traditions of Indian Folk Dance.
The Glory of Indian Handicrafts, New Delhi, India: Clarion Books, 1985.
Inner Recesses, Outer Spaces: Memoirs, 1986.
Achievements of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was the recipient of many national and international awards, including the prestigious Magsaysay Award, Vishwa Bharatis Deshikotamma conferred on her by Indira Gandhi
in 1970, and the Padma Vibhushan Award
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay alone had the insight and the will to champion a neglected cause. This great saga of patriotism and mother of handicrafts breathed her last in 1990.