(Last Updated on : 15/01/2009)
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was a veteran freedom fighter, a devoted social worker, an enlightened leader, and an able legislator. Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was a woman of innate humility and sobriety. She was of the view that religion meant, "serving the lowliest". Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was one of the distinguished colleagues in the freedom-struggle and she took to khadi at a very early age and stuck to it till the end. She dedicated her life for the poor and the destitutes. Her heart bled for the displaced persons who had no roof over their heads. Jethiben was a cosmopolitan in her outlook and was strongly opposed to linguism, parochialism and regionalism. She was under the influence of Brahmo Samaj
, and actively advocated inter religious dialogue and friendship.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was born on February 6, 1906 in Hyderabad
(Sindh). She was educated at the Kundamal Girl's High School at Hyderabad and thereafter at the Indian Girl's High School at Karachi. She passed her Matriculation examination in 1925. At college she came in contact with Gandhiji and other important national leaders, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
, Sardar Patel
, Acharya Kripalani
, Jairamdas Daulat Ram, Acharya Givdani, and Annie Besant. She even led a student procession against the Simon Commission. She courted imprisonment during the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. She also actively participated in the 1942 Quit-India movement and was imprisoned.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was attracted by Gandhiji's teachings advising women to oppose evil customs like child-marriage and dowry. She rejected offers of marriage and preferred to lead a life of service to the nation instead of living under the protection of a husband who can't accept her without a dowry. She sarcastically commented that she did not want to buy a husband.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani was an active member in politics. She was elected to the Karachi Municipal Corporation at the early age of 24. Later, she became the member of the Municipal School Board. When Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and a separate Legislative Assembly was formed for Sindh, Jethiben was elected to the Assembly and she became its Deputy Speaker. After the partition of the country in 1947, she became the Deputy Speaker of the Bombay Legislative Council and, afterwards, in Maharashtra. She earned the goodwill of her colleagues belonging to different political parties.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani founded the Navjivan Housing Cooperative Society to give solace and comfort to the destitutes and the poor. This was a unique contribution of Jethiben to the cause of the rehabilitation of displaced persons. The Navjivan Society established a Happy home for handicapped children in Kutch.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani considered education as an instrument means of social transformation. She emphasized the need for technical education and helped people to start technical schools and gave scholarships to students, specially in engineering, medical and commerce faculties, especially to women students.She was interested in women's welfare and their empowerment. Jethiben wanted girls to become self-dependent and provided a Hostel for working women, at Gandhigram. Deprived patients in hospitals were provided with medicines, nourishing diet and financial help. Thus, the Navjivan Society catered to promote all-round development of the needy and the neglected sections of the society.
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani travelled world wide to carry out her mission. She attended the International Students Conference in Holland. She participated in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in England, as an Indian Delegate. Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani also visited Japan. Thus, Jethiben left behind her a rich legacy of dedicated social and political work. Her statue was installed at Mahim to commemorate her innumerable work for humanity. She was laid to rest on 1978. She will forever remain in the heart of all Indians.