(Last Updated on : 31/08/2012)
Madam Cama was born on 24th September 1861 to rich Parsi parents. Young Bhikaji received good English education, but from the beginning she was a rebel, and a nationalist. She had good flair to learn languages and became expert in arguing her country's cause in different circles at a young age.
Political Life of Madam Cama
She fought for the freedom of the country till the last in her own way, and helped many revolutionaries with money and materials. Madame Bhikaji always believed that British had looted India, and practiced worst form of imperialism. She had thousand and one reasons to show how India was kept in abject poverty by the British to help them to become the most powerful country in the world of that period. Bhikaji Cama always stood for Swaraj or self-rule. She fought for unity of Hindus and Muslims. She continued financing revolutionaries in and out of India. British were not happy with her activities and there was a plan to finish her off. Madam Cama also fought for the cause of women. She published many books on Indian freedom struggle, which had writings against the British rule.
"This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag." Madam Cama, in Stuttgart, Germany, said these words. She also unfurled the first National Flag at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart (Germany). Thousand representatives from several countries were attending. An Indian lady in a colourful sari was a rare phenomenon in those days and her magical appearance, brave and clear words made everybody think that she was a Maharani or at least a princess from a native state.
Shoilabala Das was the first woman Municipal Commissioner of Cuttack
in the Indian state
. She was the adopted daughter of Orissa's famous politician Madhusudan Das. She was a very hardworking person and a born freedom fighter, and had great determination, impulsiveness and enthusiasm. She always fought firmly for a cause and has never been defeated. Shoilabala Das could never tolerate any sort of injustice, and took up the task of improving education of girls in the State. She had an acid tongue and spoke firmly to anyone without fear. During the freedom struggle of India
, it was Mahatma Gandhi
who asked Shoilabala to do him a 'favour' by introducing 'charkha' to the women of Orissa. With folded hands she said that she do not believe in 'charkha' and it would never bring salvation to India or solve its economic problems. Even in the presence of Mahatmaji, she was firm and frank in expressing her opinion. She even refused to wear khadi when Gandhiji told her. She had a bold, fearless, assertive personality and a sharp mind. She headed several institutions and participated in the activities of various social organizations.
Early Life of Shoilabala Das
Shoilabala was born on 1875 as the daughter of Ambica Charan Hazra and Prasanna Mayee Hazra. She was the eldest among the five children. As the eldest child she enjoyed great authority over the younger ones. She appeared to be a rebel in her childhood and her mother's attempts to train the child were in vain. She was always found of playing with boys, unlike other girls of her age. She admits that all her life she liked boys more than girls and men more than women. Her father's dear friend Madhusudan Das and his wife, who was a childless couple, liked her very much and desired to adopt her but her mother was against their proposal. After a few years when Prasanna Mayee died, the girl was finally adopted by Madhusudan Das who, by then, had become a widower.
Madhusudan Das was an important political leader of Orissa. He was rich and famous. Going into such a rich house as a daughter strengthened Shoilabala's personality. In his big palatial house her word used to be the command. She studied in a co-education English medium school. The childless widower, Madhusudan Das, loved her so dearly that he never bothered to make sure that the girl behaved in a way befitting her gender. She did whatever she liked and ruled over her foster father's house. She also brought her four younger brothers and sisters to live in her foster father's big house. After passing her matriculation examinations, she got admission to the Ravenshaw Boys' College in Cuttack. In the college Shoilabala was very different from other girls. Instead of mixing with the girls she mixed with boys. She was also quite outspoken and always asked blunt questions to anyone and everyone.
Shoilabala went to Cambridge to take a course in Teachers' Training. After her return she took active interest in her father's work. She became a devoted worker of the Utkal Union Conference founded by her father. The girl who earlier ruled her father's household now started ruling his political world. She became his best political adviser. The Governor of the Province made her father the Minister of Health. A few years later, he re-signed from his post at her instance. Many of her father's well-wishers had blamed his spoilt foster daughter for leading him to such a decision. After her father's death, Shoilabala donated his pala-tial house, 'Madhu Smriti', to an educational trust and the 'Shoilabala Women's College' was started in that building while his library was donated to the Orissa High Court.
She was appointed as the Honorary Magistrate in 1925. And later she became a member of Orissa's Public Service commission
. When she was invited by the government to attend the Female Education Conference in Ranchi
she put forward the idea that Indian women should be sent to England to be trained as Inspector. Nobody at the conference could understand why she insisted on Indian women as Inspector when India had enough number of white Inspectors. Finally, Shoilabala blurted out boldly that she insisted on having Indian Inspector, as they would not have an innate hatred for the coloured people. Her words sounded like a "bombshell" and her view was accepted without any further discussion. In her late seventies she became a Member of Parliament. and came to be known as the "Grandmother of the House".