Malati Nabakrushna Choudhary was born on 1904 into an aristocratic Brahmo family. She was the daughter of Barrister Kumud Nath Sen and Snehalata Sen. She had lost her father when she was only two and a half years old, and was brought up by her mother. Although she was born and bought up in a highly westernized family she adopted a different style. Tagore and Gandhiji influenced her. It was at Tagore's feet she learnt and acquired values and principles of education and it was Gandhiji who plunged her into the freedom struggle.
At 16 Malati came to Santiniketan and lived there for six years. There classes were held under the trees. Students were taught embroidery, handicrafts, music, dancing, painting and gardening. Mr. Pearson (an Englishman) taught them and it was from him that, Malati got the inspiration to work for the tribals. During her stay there she met Nabkrushna Choudhury a young man of Orissa. Later she got married to him and left Santiniketan. This was a turning point in her life. After her marriage, Orissa became her home and the centre of her activities. The couple settled in a small village named Anakhia of Orissa. They started adult education work in the neighboring villages. During the freedom struggle the principles of education and communication began creating a favorable environment for Satyagraha. The couples organized the Utkal Congress Samajwadi Karmi Sangh, which later became the Orissa Provincial Branch of the All India Congress Socialist Party.
After Independence, she got opportunities for translating her ideas into practice. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and as the President of the Utkal Pradesh Congress Committee, she tried her best to highlight the role of adult education in rural reconstruction. Then she became the Chief Minister of Orissa in 1951. Ultimately she decided not to join politics, because Gandhiji suggested; all Congress activists need not join politics, but should work for and with the people with service as their motive. Malati Choudhuri organized the Farmers Movement as part of the freedom struggle against the zamindars, landowners and moneylenders, who were exploiting the poor. During the Emergency she raised her voice against the anti-people policy and oppressive measures adopted by the Government and was imprisoned.
Malati Nabakrushna Choudhary received honours and awards for her hard work and industry they are: the National Award for Child Welfare, Jamnalal Bajaj Award, Utkal Seva Samman), Tagore Literacy Award, Honour by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly, Honor by the State Social Welfare Advisory Board, Honor by the Rajya Mahila Commission, and the 'Deshikottama' Award.
Malati Nabakrushna Choudhary dedicated her life for enlightening the poor people through the powerful medium of education. Malati Nabakrushna Choudhary breathed her last on1997 when she was 93 years old. Malati Nabakrushna Choudhary will ever remain in the heart of all Indians for her hard work and toil.
(Last Updated on : 15-01-2009)
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