Pearl S. Buck offered her practical help finding accommodation and clothing appropriate to the New York winter. Somerset Maugham among others. LaGuardia received her at City Hall. And over people heard her speak publicly for the first time at the Indian Independence Day celebration on January 26, an event hosted by the India League of America4.
It became apparent quickly that Pandit was naturally adept at representing the Indian cause in gatherings both large and small. To observers, Pandit moved through this milieu effortlessly, but throughout her first stay in the United States, Pandit was learning how to utilize her political history and distinctive personal characteristics to move her agenda forward. Over these months, Pandit self-consciously created a self-representation that would allow her the most access to and success on the international stage.
Her savvy complicity in the appropriation of herself as a symbol of modern India helped produce an especially effective diplomatic celebrity. She occupied a liminal space, a gendered persona at once Eastern and Western that appealed to her influential supporters as well as a broader audience.
As an Indian admirer wrote after the lecture tour: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, in her self, combines all that is best in the two ways of life — the Eastern and the Western…Her exterior beams with the manners and etiquette of…her European governess — but her heart throbs with the Kashmiri Brahmin blood of her ancestor[s]6. For more on women and gender in the Gandhian movement, see Suresht R.
Through her embrace of this self- representation, Pandit gave India its toehold into UN culture even before Indian independence was achieved. Setting the Stage Pandit arrived in the United States in late via a circuitous route. With the end of the war approaching, the Indian National Congress leadership felt it was time to send a spokesperson to the United States to garner public support on behalf of their cause. Widowed since January , Pandit found herself alone and without financial support for the first time in her life.
Pandit was initially offered only the minimum Rs. Nehru offered what support he could from his prison cell at Ahmadnagar Fort: Rs. The question of on-going financial resources remained pressing, and a lecture tour in the United States held the potential for addressing that problem. Letters in the volume date from , with just one letter from She acknowledged that despite its added pressures, widowhood had made her international diplomacy possible. While Minister of Health of the United Provinces from the first Indian woman to hold such a position , Pandit traveled to see her husband every weekend, even when they worked in different cities.
But if he had been alive, she surmised, she would not have been able to be a diplomat as it would be too awkward for her husband. Married, she would have been less inclined to perform a role that required independent travel abroad; widowed, she was able to become one of the very few women active at the highest levels of international diplomacy in the s and s.
Given these circumstances, when Gandhi, out of prison since June , and Sapru, President of the Indian Council for World Affairs, approached Pandit to speak on behalf of India in the United States, she was free to go. The only hurdle remaining was governmental permission to travel.
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As part of continued imperial control and surveillance of Congress leaders, the British had confiscated her passport and seemed unlikely to reissue it in the foreseeable future. Ultimately, she found a way around British restrictions on her mobility and entered the United States without a passport. If the American government provided permission to enter the country, the best the British could do was track her movements and send their own counter- propagandists to lessen her impact She attended lectures and meetings and had the opportunity to mingle with other delegates from all over the world.
As she would do throughout her travels, Pandit wrote to her brother about her experiences. In February, Nehru responded to her letter about the conference and shared his insights about these types of international meetings. It was during the PCR that she began to attract the media attention that would become ubiquitous in the coming months and years. Even before the main event started in San Francisco, she had begun to make an impression on observers, one that would propel her into international diplomatic celebrity in service to the Indian nationalist cause.
The letters Nehru wrote to her in this period provide a glimpse into how he viewed her experiences as a training ground for future endeavors. International mail delivery was also highly unpredictable; letters often were months in transit. One must of course have ability and capacity but almost equally important is the chance and opportunity to develop them… Keep growing and learning, flexible in mind and body, and yet always with that hard steel-like something which tempers us and keeps us straight and anchored, and gives us a sense of real values Even before Pandit made her most lasting impression at the UNCIO in San Francisco, her talent at speaking effectively on behalf of the Indian cause to audiences outside the subcontinent had become apparent.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt died just weeks after being sworn in for an unprecedented third term, leaving the untested Harry S. Truman to lead the emerging superpower. At the same time, governments and leaders were developing a forward-looking vision for the postwar world. The Arab League formed in Cairo in March, creating an important regional political power. Now, San Francisco had been selected as the location for the United Nations Conference on International Organization and invitations were sent to founding member states to convene at the end of April With the reality of gruesome warfare and massive civilian casualties in the sixth year of this global war as its backdrop, diplomats converged on the City by the Bay.
At the center of power in San Francisco were those delegations representing the Big Four — China, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States — with the reality of a bipolar power struggle emerging between the latter two increasingly obvious. The document presented to member states for their consideration had been hashed out amongst these powers during the Dumbarton Oaks talks August October 7, See: Stephen C.
Schlesinger, Act of Creation. See also Robert C.
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Unsurprisingly, the draft Charter reflected the contradictions of an organization guided by powerful governments seeking to protect their own sovereignty while simultaneously extending new powers to an international organization. With deference to the greater responsibility for the war and the enormous power held by the Big Four, the other member states nonetheless resented the veto and hoped for a larger, more inclusive Security Council with regional representation Time would prove their fears well- founded: the insistence on the part of the Big Four as well as France to maintain the veto in the Charter contributed directly to frequent deadlock at the Council throughout the Cold War years Though the fight over the veto was among the most heated of the conference, the delegates faced many more disputes over the organization of the UN Charter.
The smaller countries submitted thousands of revisions to the Dumbarton Oaks proposal, and the Big Four put forward more than 20 joint amendments of their own. In order to address these questions, the conference was divided into four major commissions, each with several sub-commissions tasked to discuss sections of the draft plan and any relevant amendments. The commissions met for six weeks, working longer and longer hours as the end of the conference neared. The official Indian delegation submitted no substantive amendments, but it was honored with the selection of Sir Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar , a lawyer and politician from southern India, to serve as the first chair of the Economic and Social Council committee.
Debate over major issues was vigorous, including over the status of regional organizations, the establishment of permanent members on the Security Council, and the scope of the Economic and Social Council. But the deck was stacked against smaller countries in more ways than one. Primarily, the Big Four had veto power over any amendment. While they were willing to negotiate behind the scenes and make some compromises, they would not allow their power to be undermined considerably. Also, in Stephen C. Delegates from other South American countries, Australia, Egypt, and others also raised concerns about the veto in their plenary remarks.
Malone ed. A compromised system outweighed the spectre of no organization at all Their hope: to impact decisions on specific issues. These individuals and organizations without official representation in the conference halls hoped to wield some influence on the direction of the postwar world order even in the face of great power dominance. The US government ultimately granted access to the NAACP along with 41 other interest groups, inevitably diminishing the influence of any one organization when so many were allowed to attend.
As private citizens these representatives could observe and lobby from inside the meeting halls, but in reality they had little to no influence on negotiations The question of racial equality became a highly contested issue as a result. These men had received instructions from the Japanese government to make clear that cooperation with the League would be predicated on the inclusion of a racial 24 Stephen Schlesinger, Act of Creation cit.
Du Bois to run parallel to the Paris talks For defenders of white supremacy from North America and the white British settler colonies, even vague language on the subject of equality had been cause for alarm in In the end, the dominance of white, western male diplomacy in Paris won when the limited structure of the new organization successfully excluded competing interests. Du Bois, cit. Together, they selected Pandit to represent their cause. The context for the discussion of race and empire was quite different at the end of the Second World War than it had been in These issues no longer could be shunted aside so easily by European leaders.
The colonial nations had made many promises to their dependencies to gain their participation in the war effort; the Allies could not have triumphed without the financial support and enormous influx of soldiers from the colonized world. The Preamble to the UN Charter was particularly idealistic, committing the new organization to work to preserve international peace and affirming the dignity of all through a commitment to human rights and the promotion of social and economic progress. Born out of the hope for postwar peace as envisioned by geopolitically dominant states, the ideals contained in the Preamble and the Charter formed a space into which millions of colonized and oppressed peoples around the world could place their hopes for a reconfiguration of power in the post war world.
These millions sought relief from the imperial power and racial subjugation that the League of Nations had reinscribed. The UN Charter gestured toward these goals, but its effectiveness would have to be put to the test. Questions of racial equality and imperial power were addressed differently in than they had been in , though without satisfactory outcomes for those looking to the UN as an instigator of real change.
The question of colonies and trusteeships had not been on the Dumbarton Oaks agenda. A human rights commission was established, but was years away from effective intervention. Anticolonial activists inside and outside the meeting halls were dissatisfied with the continued dominance of imperial powers, garnering Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and her arguments on behalf of the Indian question even broader interest and support. April was a liminal moment in both world history and in the history of South Asia.
In India, much of the Congress leadership remained imprisoned, but the devolution of imperial control was clearly on the horizon. Nehru was released from prison in June, and he immediately set about negotiating the terms of British withdrawal. But in , it clashed with the goals of the official British Indian delegation, the members of which also hoped to gain Indian independence eventually, but were willing 41 Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace, cit. The British instead selected delegates who were sympathetic to continued colonial involvement in the subcontinent: three knighted Indian men with long histories of cooperation with the metropolitan and colonial governments.
Sir V. Krishnamachari was almost twenty years senior to Pandit. He had been the Diwan finance minister of the Indian princely state of Baroda throughout the inter-war period and had served as an Indian delegate to a number of bodies including the League of Nations and several Round Table Conferences. Sir Malik Firoz Khan Noon , the youngest of the three representatives, was born in Lahore and educated at Oxford Had it been up to the British government, no Indian nationalists or Indian journalists would have been allowed to attend the Charter conference to challenge the official delegation The British and Indian governments had collaborated to prevent opponents from reaching San Francisco, a policy that was only partially successful.
Pandit was already in the United States when the conference was announced, of course, and she had already proven her effectiveness as a spokesperson for the Indian cause. Due to the inability of other Indian independence activists to leave the subcontinent and the fact that the two main Indian lobby groups in the United States had political affiliations with the Gandhian tradition, the All-India National Congress version of Indian nationalism dominated in San Francisco. This nationalist narrative denied the fact that the Congress faced stiff opposition at home from the Muslim League in areas with large Muslim populations and in ongoing negotiations with the British government.
Also silenced were the many other organized political organizations both more radical and more conservative that did not support the Congress platform, including the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha and the Scheduled Castes Federation representing the Dalit community. Mahmud A. Rather than address the accusation, Pandit asked if the questioner was a journalist. Speculation abounded about how he gained access to the press conference in the first place. Noon blamed Gandhi for rejecting the Cripps proposal, undermining the Allied war effort, and inciting communal violence through the Quit India movement in Gandhi: Sir F.
The Muslim League was as skeptical of the Cripps Plan as Congress, though for different reasons, and both major parties officially rejected the plan Ivi, pp. He is in the front. The Government of India would not let him work as he would. He and I are friends. But we are no rivals. Shortly after the San Francisco conference, Noon joined the Muslim League, and after independence he became special envoy to the first prime minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah The title used for this article was identical to one used two days earlier.
You have done a splendid job, as perhaps no one else could have done in the circumstances. With this, he made a decidedly accurate prediction. One challenge Pandit faced was how to tread a course between representing the whole of India through her speech and highlighting her own position in Indian cultural and religious hierarchies. Nehru for one encouraged her to use Hindi when speaking to Indian audiences in the United States, presumably to signal a level of authenticity to the diasporic South Asian community there In the photo, Pandit and an unnamed man face one another across a narrow table.
With hands clasped at his chest, the man bows to Pandit from the left of the image, eyes cast down He wears one of the most ubiquitous symbols of individual Congress affiliation: the Gandhi topi. Pandit also negotiated her physical representation of modern Indian womanhood and, by extension, the modern Indian nation.
The relationship between 68 James W. See extended description of the history of the topi, pp.
Early in her lecture tour, Pandit articulated a level of frustration with the constant comments on her attire and its links to gender differences between the United States and India. By refusing to alter her simple style to please her lecture sponsor, Pandit established some distance between herself and the orientalist gaze.
However, in a interview Pandit was more reflexive about the sari as a cultural symbol.
The male reporter refused to allow her the last word on the issue. American, Indian, or otherwise—it is apparent that the sari played an integral part in the performance of an acceptable Indian womanhood in all of these contexts. The more prominent Pandit became on the world stage, the more pronounced the attention to her attire, culminating in a frenzy of attempts to describe her clothing during her early days at the United Nations.
Another article by Moore two days later featured an interview with Pandit who warned that America should help India in the fight for independence in order to avoid a war against imperialism. Pandit Urges U. Nehru initially expressed some concern about her speaking voice. You tell me that your voice has been liked. That I can understand easily enough for you have a good speaking voice.
Her speaking voice did merit attention, though not negatively. During her childhood the entire family lived according to British standards Monday through Friday: they ate European food with utensils while sitting at a dining room table, dressed only in European clothing, and spoke 78 Ibid. Carey, A Cultural Approach to Communication, cit. Only on the weekend could the children experience the Kashmiri Brahmin food, language, and culture that their mother continued to maintain in a separate portion of the family estate. In addition to establishing an effective persona for herself, Pandit also worked to cement her legitimacy as the main spokesman for Indian interests beyond her close association with Nehru and Gandhi.
In San Francisco, Pandit consistently claimed to speak on behalf of all of India, taking for granted that her political party already spoke as the representatives of the Indian people as a whole. As the most visible of those aligned against the official Indian delegation at San Francisco, she was described in the American press as a more legitimate spokesman for India than Krishnamachari, Mudaliar, and Noon.
She contrasted her own status against that of the official Indian delegates who were not representative of Indian interests at all, but were simply nominated by the British. Walter White heaped on even greater praise in his assessment of Pandit at the end of the San Francisco conference, an extraordinary passage worth quoting at length: Imagine, if you will, an exquisitely featured face of lovely reddish brown surmounted by a semi-circle of silver hair brushed backward and upward to that it looks like a halo when the sun shines through it.
Imagine beautifully kept hands which dart and flash with the color and skill of a bird in flight, lending just the need emphasis to words spoken with a throaty richness in flawless English. The relationships Pandit forged with Black American leaders such as Du Bois and White in San Francisco because of her ability to present herself as the only legitimate representative of the Indian cause translated into powerful solidarities 85 S.
The Future Pandit capitalized on her family history, natural charisma, and gripping oratory in order to present a compelling personification of modern India at the birth of the United Nations. Pandit embodied this space in a moment in which the contingencies of history combined with the power of print culture allowed her to appropriate her own representation and project herself, and India, as legitimate actors on the world stage.
The San Francisco conference was a major diplomatic event garnering attention from around the world. In other words, the Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of was the perfect future tense for both the aspiring Indian postcolonial state and the ideals of the United Nations itself. Her impromptu speeches, charming and dense with poetry, always impressed the masses.
Jailed four times during the disobedience movements, she took part in several satyagraha actions and non-cooperation protests. She never considered herself a feminist and distanced herself from Western feminism. Nevertheless, she dedicated her entire life to the enhancement of the status of Indian women. To Leonardo [da Vinci] with his besetting dreams of wings beating the blue air the notion of freedom was a necessity. But it was personal freedom he meant, the joy of an uncaged mind!
With his rich and prevailing qualities, he could create his freedom around him everywhere. What a wonderful power to evoke, what a perfect sanctuary within oneself from the turmoil and the anguish of the world… Letter to Padmaja Naidu, from Yeravda Jail, 22 July She was a special friend of Gandhi, as their intense correspondence reveals. Sarojini dedicated her entire life to the empowerment of Indian women.
Nevertheless, she never considered herself as feminist and distanced herself from Western feminism. On the contrary, difference and subjectivity can be used as important interpretative categories of feminism see Choudhury and Chakravarty In the following biographical sketch, I refer to some of the many biographies written of her life: Sarojini Naidu. Paranjape , Sarojini Naidu.
The Nightingale and The Freedom Fighter Paranjape Her controversial poetry will be discussed in the third paragraph. Gokhale Behold! I rise to meet the destined spring And scale the stars upon my broken wing! Her family was wealthy, with a property house and a maid. In , he abandoned chemistry, as he set up the Anglo Hindu Vernacular School in Hyderabad for girls. There he hosted intellectuals, poets, scholars, artists, aristocrats, singers, Oxford-educated professors, village priests, scientists, Muslim, Hindu and Orthodox intellectuals.
Sweet-tempered, calm, gentle, quiet, apparently reserved, Varada Sundari composed lyrics in Bengali. Sarojini was the first of eight children. She was educated at home by her father. From childhood, she read and wrote a lot of poetry. Sarojini often avoided the boring, too structured lessons, to enjoy the English countryside, and to write poems about nature, inspired by the landscape.
She was introduced to Arthur Symons, and she met the poet Edmund Gosse and showed them some of her compositions. Edmund Gosse suggested she be a genuine Deccan poet, instead of an Anglicized one. Subsequently, in her poetry, there was a transition between European skylarks to bulbuls, Indian birds. Many of her poems were dedicated to her beloved Govindarajulu Naidu — a young doctor she met in India before she left for England.
When she returned to India, in , her parents had no more objections to the marriage between her and Mr Naidu. She had four children: two girls, Padmaja and Lilamani, and two boys, Jayasurya and Ranadhira. In , she began her affiliation with the nationalist movement during the 18th Indian National Congress Session, Bombay. Sarojini had been encouraged by Gokhale to devote her poetry and her talent to the motherland.
They shared the same ideas about the Hindu-Muslim unity issue. Gokhale introduced Sarojini to Gandhi, contributing in giving her life a special turn after that important meeting. This was a turning point for Sarojini, whose interest in social and political issues became predominant in her life, from now. She threw herself into the freedom movement after her return to India. Sarojini met Jawaharlal Nerhu. He was 10 years younger, and soon he began a younger brother to her.
Her letters to Nerhu are a blend of kindness, humour, admiration. The years and were intense for Sarojini. She used her pen and her skilful speaking ability in speeches against the iniquity of the British rule. She spent a year here, keeping in touch with the Indian community. Sarojini gave public lectures to the English public, showing the true situation in India, and speaking against the hypocrisy of British rule.
On her return, in , Gandhi started the non-cooperation movement. Students, lawyers, and common people took part in the boycott movement. People abstained from buying foreign products, such as cloth. Sarojini helped Gandhi to form self-discipline among passive resisters. She explained the non-violent methods to the people by manifestos and through her speeches. By the end of the year, several people were jailed. Gandhi launched a hartal strike all over India. Sarojini took part directly in the non- violent protests, and several women, encouraged by her example, joined her.
In the s Sarojini also travelled around the world. She went to Africa and took part in the Kenyan Indian Congress in She went to Mombasa, Durban, where she spoke against segregation. On her return to India, Gandhi had been released because of his illness. She presided at the Kanpur session of the Congress in In this period, she travelled in the North of India. In this period Muslim and Indian relations deteriorated.
She arrived in New York in She gave lectures, poetry readings, she participated in festivals, encountered literary figures, poets, intellectuals. The Grand Canyon inspired in her a sense of the sublime; she compared it to a magnificent temple built by God. She met many black professors at the Howard University. She gave her solidarity to black people and visited Indian reservations. When Nehru was naminated as the Congress President, in , complete independence had been adopted by the political party.
Sarojini joined Gandhi and broke the Salt Law, reminding the satyagrahis to remain non-violent. When Gandhi was arrested on 5 May, she was given the leadership of the movement. She attempted to enter the Dharasana Salt Works and was arrested. She assisted Gandhi during his fast in September and in February In , Gandhi moved to England together with Sarojini. Here Sarojini participated in lectures and readings and met friends.
She travelled to Italy and Switzerland, then visited South Africa. Sarojini had been arrested shortly after her return in India, but was soon released because of illness. In Gandhi started a fast in protest of the announcement of separated electorates of untouchables by their leader, Dr. Then he founded the journal Harjian and travelled on foot during Sarojini often accompanied him in these struggles.
Thousands were arrested. Sarojini was imprisoned, too. In gaol she had an encouraging influence on other prisoners. When Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi passed away in prison, she felt great sadness. In Gandhi was released. He helpfully tried to resolve unity by meeting Jinnah several times.
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But, finally, on 15 August , the British transferred power to two independent states: India and Pakistan. The partition was a dramatic event, with riots, mass-migrations of refugees, rapes and violence between the two communities. On 30 January , Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu-nationalist, at a prayer meeting in Delhi. Sarojini continued to remain the same, important column of the Congress in those dramatic days. Though the assassination of Gandhi left a deep sorrow in Sarojini, she demonstrated self-control. Sarojini was nominated governor of Uttar Pradesh by Nehru. In these final years she showed herself to be a brilliant legislator; she met students in conferences and celebrations in many universities, and never stopped being a woman of spirit, infusing positive energy to the people around her.
In the late winter of she felt ill. She passed away on 2 March, Sixty thousand people watched the ultimate departure of Sarojini Naidu in silent grief, at her funeral on the Gomti river banks. Besides, Sarojini was introduced to other important political women and men by Gokhale. This led to widespread protests, and Sarojini inquired why the British did not extend the franchise to women.
Paradoxically, the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms stated that this resolution wanted to protect the rights of a minority of women secluded in purdanashin — i. Sarojini set her battle against indentured labour — known as Girmitya in Hindi — for an intense period. Many women escaped from dowry, poverty, and oppressive situations, to encounter miserable conditions. Sarojini travelled to Kenya, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, where she spread her message against indentured labour.
British Guiana abolished indentured labour firstly, and Fiji only in This was a great and symbolic achievement. This organisation was originally conceived for an educational scope; subsequently, along with Sarojini presidency, also political issues were considered by AIWC. She also worked for the solidarity among women all over the world. Gandhi inaugurated the campaign and invited women to abandon the veil. She also campaigned for the right to divorce. Her speech during the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, in , compares women to torchbearers of the freedom fighter.
In her letter to Padmaja and Leilamani she describes, in vibrant prose, these masses if satyagrahi women involved in the struggle, then imprisoned. They fill 2 long barracks near my cottage and overflow into six crowded tents on the open space that was dedicated to my walk, morning and evening.
They are a loud army of protestants and protest against everything at the top of their voice, interspersed with shrill internecine altercations and punctuated at dawn and dusk with a serried medley of prayer and praise […] It is rather heroic and impressive to see these Gujarati ladies… most of them form homes of comfort and culture, most of them delicately nurtured, sheltered and cherished, enduring more or less long tenures of rigorous imprisonment…[…] Some of them, too, are in acutely feminine phases and stages of life… Going to have, on the verge of having, or having just had little Gujarati babies.
In her view, freedom would be reached only with equality for women. By using these words, Sarojini seems to accept the traditional role given to women in society. However, Sarojini tries to interpret the Ramayana heroine in a feminist perspective. Often considered a victim because of her choice to renounce life to escape an unjust world and re-join her mother the Earth see Sally J.
Sutherland , Sita demonstrates also strength and courage, wisdom and willpower. This passage is 1 Sisters. Sarojini tries to find another path — different from Western feminism, for Indian women, in order to construct an enlightened society for a free India, where men and women work together for a better future. This is why Sarojini often looked at Western feminism with a critical eye and tried to build an ideology that would guarantee the union of Indian society against the common enemy: the Western world.
At the same time, this ideology had to be respectful of tradition, in order to find the favour of the different strata of India. A balance that was difficult to achieve. All the R. So, I had to return my ticket. I was both annoyed and diverted by such an exhibition of British conservatism Letter to Padmaja Naidu, 3 December Think over it my darling. Thus, Indian women are twice or more subaltern, at least once more subaltern than western women, because Indian women, differently from Western ones, are colonized.
To be or not to be, that is the question! There are many ardent but not far-seeing social reformers who loudly advocate the immediate and wholesale abolition of the purdah as an initial step towards education. I suppose it is not easy for those whose lives are cast in progressive places where the purdah system is so elastic, to realise that to countless men and women in other parts of India it is dearer than life itself and synonymous with their honour. All my life I have lived in a Mohamedan country which Is regarded as the stronghold of the purdah, and I realise what a calamity of incalculably tragic results would follow a premature and total abolition of the system […].
Indeed I hold that the crowning triumph of education will be the complete emancipation of Indian womanhood. In the fulness of time, like a splendid and full-blown flower, she will emerge from the protecting sheath of her purdah Paranjape An educated woman will be able to defeat all obsolete customs which seclude her, as purdah. In her effort, Sarojini Naidu tried to defend her cultural and gendered identity from the double colonization Indian women had to face, as colonial subjects, and as oppressed women. We have to remember also that she did not consider herself a feminist in a westernized meaning.
She was aware that Indian women must look back to their heritage to find a solution and the inspiration for their social, and political struggles. Sarojini had never been a traditional woman: undoubtedly, in her private and public life she was a living example of an emancipated woman. Dreams of a Poetess Sarojini Naidu experienced poetry from a very young age: she published her main poetry volumes in the early phase of her life: The Golden Threshold, in , and The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death and the Spring, in Both were printed in London with the support of Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons, two English poets affiliated to the romantic revival in England.
Even if the love for poetry never faded during her political activity, it is clear that the editing of new books of poetry had been subordinated to the nationalist cause. This complex relationship, not wholly equal, is — according to Paranjape — reflected in her poetry, since it has been deeply influenced by Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons.
Gosse, 12th January Gosse, Heinemann, Hyderabad 20 July He writes: The verses which Sarojini had entrusted to me were skilful in form, correct in grammar and blameless in sentiment, but they had the disadvantage of being totally without individuality. They were Western in feeling and in imagery; […] I advised the consignment of all that she had written, in this falsely English vein, to the waste-paper basket.
I implored her to consider that from a young Indian of extreme sensibility, who had mastered not merely the language but the prosody of the West, what we wished to receive was […] some revelation of the heart of India, some sincere penetrating analysis of native passion, of the principles of antique religion and of such mysterious intimations as stirred the soul of the East long before the West had begun to dream that it had a soul. In the run-up of the regional elections , the Radicals understood that their isolation was no longer sustainable and took the unprecedented step of contextually asking to join either the centre-right House of Freedoms or the centre-left The Union , regardless of their respective political platforms.
The request was turned down by both coalitions, but the effort opened the way for the party's re-positionment in the Italian party system. This decision led those Radicals who were more keen on an alliance with the centre-right to split: this group, led by Della Vedova, launched the Liberal Reformers and joined the House of Freedoms, eventually merging into Berlusconi's Forza Italia. In the election, the list won a mere 2. The Radicals lost voters in their strongholds in the North to Forza Italia, while the Socialists lost ground in their southern heartlands to The Olive Tree parties see electoral results of the RnP.
In November , after a row with Pannella, who was still the party's real leader, Capezzone was forced not to run again for secretary and was replaced by rank-and-file Bernardini. Since then, although not officially leaving, Capezzone became very critical of the government and formed his own political association named Decide!
Later on, Capezzone entered Forza Italia and became the party's spokesman. The Radicals were at a new turning-point of their history. In the run-up of the congress, Pannella declared that the party should "give absolute priority to economic, liberal and libertarian reforms rather than the civil struggle to Vatican power, prepotency and arrogance", which had been central in In the general election , the Radicals stood for re-election in list with the Democratic Party PD.
Under an agreement with PD's leader Walter Veltroni , six deputies and three senators were elected. Having obtained 2. In November, Mario Staderini replaced Casu as secretary. Bonino ran for President of Lazio for the centre-left coalition in the regional election , but was defeated by Renata Polverini. The cabinet lasted until 22 February , when it was replaced by the Renzi Cabinet , which did not include Bonino. In November , the party elected a new leadership: Bernardini secretary, Laura Arconti president and Valerio Federico treasurer. In November during the annual party congress, Riccardo Magi was elected secretary and Cappato president.
Pannella, who did not speak at the congress, opposed the change, while Bonino, who was no longer in good terms with the old leader, did not even take part in the congress. In May , Pannella, who had long suffered from cancer, died and Italian politicians from across the entire political spectrum paid tribute to him.
In the event, the party found itself increasingly divided in two factions: on one side Magi, Cappato and Staderini who were backed by Bonino , on the other Turco, Bernardini and most of the staff of Radio Radicale who were closer to the late Pannella. The former focused more on Italian politics and elections, while the latter were more interested in the activity of the Transnational Radical Party TRP and no longer in playing an active role in elections as suggested by Pannella. The fracture was evident in September at the congress of the TRP, during which the faction of Turco and Bernardini soundly beat the other wing.
The list won 2. Contextually, the list obtained 2. The newly-formed committee appointed Della Vedova as coordinator. According to the party statute,  the Italian Radicals are both a "liberal, liberist and libertarian" party and a non-ideological, pragmatic and open movement: indeed the RI are the only Italian political movement who consent the double membership. The RI claims the legacy of Risorgimento radical-republican figures such as Carlo Cattaneo ,  Giuseppe Mazzini ,  and Felice Cavallotti , and 19th-century liberal and socialist intellectuals as Gaetano Salvemini ,  the brothers Carlo and Nello Rosselli , Benedetto Croce ,  and party-ideologue Ernesto Rossi.
On political action's methods, the RI adopts referendums as direct democratic system of vote since , the Radical Party and his not-legal successor RI had purposed more than referendums, winned 35 times  and Gandhi-inspired nonviolence , the Satyagraha , also adopting extreme tactics like hunger strike and, occasionally, thirst strike.
On fiscal issues , the Radicals are usually liberists and libertarians , supporting non-interventionist and free market policies, but in recent times accepted part of welfare state system, especially on healthcare. The Radicals are historically divided in two wings: the "Friedmanians", those who were influenced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School , and the "Keynesians", who support neo-Keynesian or post-Keynesian economics.
In Search of Sita. Revisiting Mythology. London: Penguin. Huggan, Graham. The Postcolonial Exotic. Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge. The Role of Women in the Freedom Movement New Delhi: Sterling. Kumar, Anu. Sarojini Naidu. The Nightingale and the Freedom Fighter.
2004 non-fiction books
Hachette India. Nair, Janaki. Economic and Political Weekly, 43 43 : Morton, Eleanor. Women Behind Mahatma Gandhi. London: Max Reinhadt. Naidu, Sarojini. The Golden Threshold. London: William Heinemann. The Bird of Time. Songs of Life, Death and the Spring. The Broken Wing. Songs of Love, Death and Destiny. Speeches and Writings. Madras: G. Natesan and co. The Feather of the Dawn. Bombay: Asia Publishing House. Naravane, Vishvanath S. Her Life, Work and Poetry.
Paranjape, Makarand R. Selected Letters s to s. New Delhi: Kali for Women. Selected Poetry and Prose. New Delhi: Rupa Publications India. Premalatha S. Sengupta, Padmini. Sarojini Naidu: A Biography. New Delhi: Asia Publishing. Snaith, Annah. New York: Cambridge University Press. Sutherland, Sally J. Rajyalakshmi, P. The Lyric Spring. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. Mrinalini, Sarabhai. The Mahatma and the Poetess. Being a selection of letters exchanged between Gandhiji and Sarojini Naidu. Mumbai: Kulapati Munshi Marg.
A Biography. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Can the Subaltern Speak?. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Many Western women inspired him, worked with him, supported him in his political activities in South Africa and India, or contributed to shaping his international image. Il libro fornisce una cronaca della vita di Gandhi usando come veicolo le sue relazioni significative con le donne.
Traduzione di Serena Tiepolato. E qui gli attori principali erano uomini. Senza di esso, non sarebbero stati apportati i fondamentali cambiamenti necessari e la disobbedienza civile, se fosse riuscita a rovesciare un gruppo di oppressori, si sarebbe limitata a sostituire un gruppo di leader con un altro gruppo simile. I programmi costruttivi, nello schema di Desai, sono il secondo dei grandi doni di Gandhi.
Gandhi credeva fermamente che la vita non potesse essere compartimentata, che le azioni e le ragioni su cui si basano, siano esse politiche, economiche, sociali o spirituali, fossero correlate e che queste azioni avessero un rapporto diretto con il raggiungimento della liberazione personale, lo scopo ultimo della vita. Tuttavia, senza comprendere la ricerca spirituale di Gandhi, non siamo in grado di comprendere Gandhi. Ad esempio, se si legge il libro di Kumar che esamina la vita di Gandhi attraverso i suoi esperimenti di bramacharya, quasi non si realizza che Gandhi era un attore politico.
Nehru e Patel sono a mala pena menzionati. Con alcune autorevoli eccezioni, la maggior parte delle discepole di Gandhi al contrario dei collaboratori politici o costruttivi erano ashramiti, che cercavano di seguire la disciplina spirituale del loro maestro. Ovviamente ci sono delle eccezioni. Anche le altre meritano di essere ricordate. Per descrivere adeguatamente queste relazioni personali, ho cercato di affidarmi alla corrispondenza invece che ai resoconti biografici o addirittura autobiografici successivi.
Quelle importanti, o quelle scritte da determinate persone o che coprono determinate date, sono state conservate negli archivi del Sabarmati Ashram di Ahmedabad o nella Nehru Memorial Museum Library di Nuova Delhi. Tuttavia, molte sono state anche distrutte. Presumibilmente la maggior parte non erano degne di essere conservate, e anche molte di quelle che potevano essere preservate furono replicate e poi riciclate come carta per appunti.
Chi erano? E cosa ci dice questo di lui? In questi libri si intravede il desiderio di Gandhi di coltivare il proprio lato femminile e ci sono alcuni libri scritti da altri, come quelli di Millie Polak, Mirabehn, Nilla Cram Cook, Mary Barr e Manu Gandhi, che toccano il suo rapporto materno con le autrici in particolare e, a volte, con le donne in generale.
Kaur , pp. Ebbero un profondo impatto sul giovane Mohandas alla stregua missionari cristiani, che divennero i suoi primi amici intimi in Sud Africa Per le prime influenze su Gandhi, specialmente occidentali, si veda T. Weber, , pp. Questo fu evidente durante i suoi primi studi filosofici a Londra e in Sudafrica quando aveva ancora tempo per costruire il suo capitale intellettuale.
Gandhi , pp. Questo doveva essere fatto attraverso il suo lavoro alla riforma sociale per il tramite del suo programma costruttivo. E coloro che sembravano sostenere le sue opinioni. Alla fine di ottobre e nel novembre del , Gandhi era a Londra come membro di una delegazione indiana per discutere questioni di discriminazione in Sud Africa.
Polak, 26 ottobre , in M. Sembra abbastanza logico che avrebbero sostenuto una campagna nonviolenta da parte di una minoranza trattata ingiustamente e che Gandhi, a sua volta, sarebbe stato attratto da loro. Stava anche lavorando con passione al suo impegno per la nonviolenza, e dai suoi giorni a Londra, quando si mescolava in ambienti socialisti, si considerava almeno un socialista.
Anche le compagne sudafricane, Emily Hobhouse, Betty Molteno e Olive Shreiner, ammiravano Gandhi, i principi che professava e il movimento che guidava. Se questi contatti femminili britannici e sudafricani erano amici e sostenitori, Gandhi apprese molto anche dalle sue osservazioni sulla lotta femminista allora in corso in Inghilterra. Poche settimane dopo il lancio della lotta politica degli indiani del Sudafrica verso la fine del — anche se in questa fase sembra che non abbia mai incontrato nessuna di loro — Gandhi fece osservazioni ravvicinate delle suffragette a Londra e scrisse a lungo di loro e delle loro tattiche.
Hunt , p. Dopo aver rifiutato di pagare le multe, le donne furono condannate a tre mesi di reclusione. Sono certe che avranno successo ed otterranno il diritto al voto, per la semplice ragione che le azioni sono migliori delle parole. Anche quelli che ridevano di loro sarebbero rimasti meravigliati. Se persino le donne mostrano un tale coraggio, gli indiani del Transvaal falliranno nel loro dovere e avranno paura del carcere? Gandhi Nel , Gandhi, ormai da lungo tempo disobbediente, era di nuovo a Londra a promuovere la causa degli indiani sudafricani.
Se demoralizzate dalla sofferenza, adottano misure estreme e ricorrono alla violenza, perderanno qualsiasi simpatia esse abbiano e si inimicheranno la gente M. E nessuna discepola occidentale fu coinvolta nei suoi controversi esperimenti per assicurarsi negli ultimi anni della sua vita di aver conquistato le sue lussuriose passioni.
Col passare del tempo, Gandhi divenne meno occidentalizzato e le sue discepole indiane giunsero a dominare la sua vita personale. Erano fuggite dalle maglie sociali della tradizionale Europa e spesso le portava come modelli per le sue seguaci indiane. Spesso il profondo rispetto era reciproco e le amicizie, sebbene raramente faccia a faccia, durarono per tutta la vita.
Esprime la paura di essere contaminati o, peggio, di essere assorbiti dalla vita e dalle usanze locali. Essi comportavano manifestazioni esteriori visibili come vestirsi in abiti nativi, mangiare cibi nativi e impegnarsi in cerimonie native. Ci furono, tuttavia, donne che andarono contro le convenzioni sociali. Comunque, fintanto che si rimane in qualsiasi misura al di fuori di esso, ci si sente a questo riguardo un barbaro.
La maggior parte non si identificava fino a questo punto, ma era ancora disposta, in una certa misura, a piegare o ignorare le regole non scritte, indipendentemente dalle conseguenze. E per alcune anche il desiderio di lavorare per la fine di quello che vedevano come un opprimente Raj.
Assimilarsi ai nativi Millie Graham Polak non si preoccupava di quello che i suoi colleghi europei pensavano e viveva con Gandhi nella sua comune a Phoenix in Sud Africa come Ada West. Era nativa tanto quanto lo era Gandhi. Come le loro controparti che oggi cercano guru famosi, anche queste donne stavano cercando il terapeuta in Gandhi tanto quanto il Mahatma o il leader che incarnava le aspirazioni nazionali indiane Sudhir Kakar , p. E questo si applicava ugualmente alle sue seguaci, donne occidentali e indiane.
Ovviamente non tutte quelle che si accostarono a Gandhi soffrivano di crisi emotive. Petersen, Barr e le sue collaboratrici Khedi, Sykes e Heilemann sono i migliori esempi. Bibliografia Amrit Kaur, Rajkumari. Gandhi, Women and Social Injustice: iii. Desai, Narayan. My Gandhi, Ahmedabad: Navajivan.
Gandhi, Arun and Sunanda Gandhi, Gandhi, Mohandas K. To the Women, Karachi. Anand T. Women and Social Injustice Bharatan Kumarappa ed. Women Bharatan Kumarappa ed. Prabhu comp. The Role of Women Anand T. Hingorani ed. Gandhi on Women Pushpa Joshi comp. Hunt, James. Kakar, Sudhir. Kumar, Girja, MacMillan, Margaret. Women of the Raj, n. Mehta, Ved. Nerhu, Rameshwari. Pyarelal, Nayar.
Weber, Thomas. Gandhi and his revolutionary ideas of nonviolent and equitable social and political reconstruction attracted many, particularly women, from around the world. In this paper, I argue that the socio-political ideas and value orientations of Sarala Behn in her fight against colonialism, imperialism, race and gender injustices did not begin or end with Gandhi, but had their formative roots in the various choices and encounters she made in the early phase of her life in England that led her to travel abroad to join the cause of Gandhi in India.
Accordingly, this paper presents a brief biographical sketch of Sarala Behn outlining the key moments and turning points that helped shape her philosophy and practice and gave specificity to her individual contributions as an educationist and an activist, and her role as a European going to India. Additionally, this paper presents selected details of her nonviolent social work in colonial India amongst the natives and against British imperialist policies.
For woman is not undevelopt man, But diverse Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Princess It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. William Ernst Henley, Invictus Hers was a struggle from the beginning1. A peaceful struggle against all injustice and exploitation of defenseless people. All pictures in this article are edited by David M.
Grimes for clarity and presentation. She was a woman of indomitable will and forceful action, an indefatigable rebel against colonialism and imperialism, and a passionate critic of modern theories of economics and politics. Interestingly, her name did not originate with Gandhi, unlike what many of her close friends and followers believed. Her autobiography makes it amply clear that some Indian colleagues used to address her as such when she came to India. But what is more, the philosophy and values which she adopted in her life and which gave her prominence in India as a Gandhian social worker did not begin with Gandhi either.
Where did her values come from? And what prompted her to leave England for India? Compassion can establish peace, co-operation, and dignity of labor on earth. But I felt that Western civilization cannot do this work. It is the search for an answer to this question; it is this [my emphasis] inspiration that brought me to India3. These values and ideas populated her mind during her adolescent days in England. Yet little is known about her life to the outside world. Having come from an economically and socially marginalized class in England also puts her in sharp contrast to that of Mira Behn, who hailed from the upper-class English gentry.
In colonial India and thereafter, Sarala Behn worked 2 Sarala Behn signed her name as Sarala Devi in official letters and as an author. However, it is also the custom of Kumaoni culture where women addressed themselves as such instead of using last names of their father or husbands. This point was also raised by Rebecca Klenk as we happened to interview the same person.
She was also known to have nurtured a strong dislike for publicity especially from outside media or people and instead preferred steady constructive work. Being a key organizer of Gandhian constructive sarvodaya uplift of all movements in Uttarakhand, when co-workers hailed her as their neta leader , in her usual self- abnegatory style she would forcefully retort: main neta nahin hoon bhai, main karyakarta hoon!
I am not a leader, I am a worker! Philology being her main interest, she was quick in learning a foreign language. But what is remarkable is that she wrote her autobiography in Hindi which carries proof of her greater degree of involvement with the native culture than any other western associate of Gandhi. However, at times her autobiography reads more like an ethnography given the great lengths she speaks about the people and cultures of the mountains where she worked.
Available festschrift accounts are also of little avail as they are largely noncritical, reads Sarala Behn primarily in the light of Gandhi i. Gandhi on no account accepted anyone as a disciple and flatly refused to be looked upon as a guru. He urged constructive workers not to blindly agree to all his ideas or to adhere to any ideology without putting them to their rigorous scrutiny of reason.
This paper extends the thesis that Sarala Behn was not a typical follower of Gandhi but a visionary thinker in her own right. This is important because the study of the history and political economy of a colonial and postcolonial world often tend to focus on abstract processes of macro-level philosophical analysis or textual exegesis ignoring micro-histories of subjectivity or biographical elements, subsuming thus the agency of individuals if any, particularly that of women.
Thus, my approach to this biographical narrative is selective, non-linear, and non-thematic, and although I follow the rough chronology of her life, I do so to unveil both the internal and external drama and struggle Sarala Behn experienced as an activist, educator, and a philosopher in course of the various circumstances of her life. It is hoped that this narrative will help us reflect on the larger questions vital to contemporary interest, such as the role of biography that unite thought and 13 Sharon McDonald, who so kindly shared her work with me, has also cogently argued this point.
In her biographical research on a group of western women who came to Gandhi during the colonial period, McDonald aptly emphasizes that in putting the stamp of an eastern notion of discipleship on these various western women, we fail to approach them from a western perspective.
The latter, she observes, has maintained a certain distinction between discipleship and mentorship. Heilemann mentions in her memoir that she nurtured an open mind with regard to nation or language, her parents having come from diverse nationalities. Heilemann had a younger brother, Alfred18, and the two lost their mother when Heilemann was seven.
Her grandmother Katharina took over the charge of the household and the care of the children. Heilemann adored her grandmother. Her boundless love gave all the support Heilemann needed during the darkest moments of her childhood and adolescence. She did not harbor such faith in her father. She also spoke of her father as very conventional in his outlook, concerned about niceties of social comportment etc.
Under license to MyHeritage. One day, while cooking, her grandmother accidentally burnt a piece of sandwich bread. The injustices that Heilemann and her family underwent during her childhood and adult days through the machinery of the state and society awoke her to its inherent contradictions in which political rivalry and imperial ambitions created enemies out of common people who were friendly neighbors.
This happened during the First World War, when her father, originally born in Switzerland but who lived in England since his childhood was wrongly interned by the British as an enemy national due to a mix-up in his birth certificate. This particular incident completely outraged her. Gyanodyaya Prakashan, Nainital , p It did not take her much to fathom that a minority family has become cornered by a majority society and in her mind she became restless to respond to this injustice. It is this feeling of restlessness that nurtured a profound sense of empathy and concern for the lives of those sections of society and communities who were minorities and oppressed Apart from the unlawful detention of her father based on false claims of being an enemy ally, she could not reconcile to how common people of nations who were peaceful neighbors and friends could suddenly rise to the mindlessness of bloodshed and war at the armchair prompt of their respective governments.
She began questioning war as an institution to settle disputes and conflicts. She expressed her distress in these words: The new inhuman conception of total war, the spirit of reprisals, all struck home as sheer stupidity to one who could not accept current theories of economics and politics as gospel, but weighing them in the balance of common sense and finding them wanting was therefore categorized as an enemy of the nation.
People were prepared to accept that if on a certain day, the rulers of two countries sign documents declaring themselves at war, it is the bounden duty of citizens of both countries to set about killing one another, even if until yesterday they had regarded themselves as friends. As a budding social activist, pacifist, and revolutionary, her perceptive teenage mind began to question not only politics but also religion. Her grandmother, having a Lutheran background, exposed her to a non-conformist denomination and Heilemann began attending a Congregational Church as a child. However, she could not comprehend many aspects of organized religion.
She was not interested in church liturgies and doctrinal creed, but was attracted to the stories of the life of Jesus, his fundamental teachings of love, nonviolence, truth, and compassion. The work of Christian missionaries had an impact on her, and she harbored a secret 24 Ivi, p. The onslaught of the war however, made her question her faith, disenchanting her about organized faith and institutional religion and made her see its connection to nationalism. The Bible taught her that Christianity was about turning the other cheek.
But she was appalled that despite the inhumanity of the war, the religious priests of both sides prayed for the victory over the enemy nation. The futility of armed conflict and church bigotry disillusioned her, and Heilemann refused to go to church. Her grandmother, who supported her in her questioning of the inanity of war, did not support this decision of her grandchild.
As Heilemann began to get increasingly suspicious of religious rituals and liturgies she argued with her pious grandmother over such matters. She refused to accept the teaching that bread and wine when consecrated becomes the body and blood of Christ Her conscience and insistence on common sense led her to repudiate such teachings, refrain from partaking in the either Holy Communion or preparing for Confirmation, leading her finally to stop attending church.
Soon afterwards, Heilemann was to face another traumatic experience that would significantly impact her vocational future. As a brilliant student, Heilemann had received scholarships for high school. She made good progress in languages, history, and mathematics and was about to win another to go on to university, when events took a different turn. This decision is also the right one for, as you are not helping in the war effort, you can give more time to study and therefore have a much better chance of winning than those girls who are active in the war effort.
This statement stunned her, not because of the denial of scholarship but because of the reasons. This incident compelled her to abandon her studies at a young age of sixteen and search for employment. The injustice, discrimination, hypocrisy, social ostracism, and the widening gap between belief and practice that she witnessed during her days in London drove her to seek inner peace and consolation amidst nature. Heilemann had earlier developed a strong distaste for science subjects taught at her school like botany and geography.
This realization of the value of experiential learning over the mere intellectual or factual and her striving to put these ideals into action later played a significant role in attracting Heilemann to the progressive education program of Gandhi, Nai Talim London in the early twentieth century was witnessing an intense and unprecedented phase of industrial and suburban growth.
Heilemann did not find anything appealing or worth emulating in this rushed lifestyle. She penned her earliest thoughts on this: Coming into close contact with factories I only became even more disturbed. Seeing the unnatural environment of the factory, the deafening noise, the people made slaves by the sheer speed of machines, I suffered a lot. The thought came to me that when I make use of items produced in these factories, in a way, I too am part of this inhuman process Anticipating Gandhi, Heilemann became an unrelenting critic of modern economic theories and when she discussed these matters with others they called her anti-national or believed her to be insane.
Under these circumstances the only option was to choose to remain a social outcaste, which she did. It was the Basic Education Program proposed by Gandhi in , an alternative to the colonial system of education as well as a critique of the larger colonial and modernist political-economic structures. This personal loss, threw her life into utter loneliness and despair. She gave up interest both at home and at her workstation, and following a petty argument with her religious-minded father over whether washing could be hung outdoors to dry during Sabbath, she left home, discontented and unhappy.
This marked a turning point in her life. While living in London on her own working as an office clerk, Heilemann came in touch with people from other parts of Europe, who shared many of her interests and views. However, at the international society where she had her quarters in , Heilemann came to know a few Indian students, among who was one, Mohan Singh Mehta. Very soon, Heilemann and Mehta became close friends. This infuriated Heilemann and she engaged in heated arguments with Mehta About this time from Mehta and other students Heilemann also learnt about Indian politics and the nonviolent movement of Gandhi.
She became once more aware of the faulty education she received in her school days, reflecting on which she wrote: Imperialism and colonialism were presented to me in a new light. Heilemann began to take active interest in the nationalist movement in India and read about the work of prominent leaders of the Indian renaissance movement. This was a nonviolent and transformative social praxis aimed at fostering alternative conditions of living within socially sustainable, economically self-reliant, and self-governing local communities which he called gram swaraj village republics. It awakened in her, a passion to peacefully fight for justice that lay dormant within for several years.
By , these ideas concretized in her mind and she began thinking of going to India Meanwhile, in India, Gandhi began his famous Salt March in to protest against the unjust tax on salt imposed by the British. It had a profound impression on her. It now seemed that the desire I had had in my childhood to become a missionary had found a new direction. They tried to persuade her to drop her idea of going to India, a country with climate, people, and culture different from her own. But Heilemann remained firm. Her spirit was not to be dampened even when she received a reply to her letter from Gandhi who advised her against coming stating that most westerners were not able to conform to the way of life in India.
Undeterred, she decided to undertake some practical training so that she could go to India with the idea of practicing that skill. She took training in midwifery, undertook a correspondence course in commerce etc. She was greatly consoled to learn that they were equally in favor of creating a new society through revolution, an idea, which resonated with her own political and social thoughts. During this time, probably between and , Mehta, who had been in correspondence with Heilemann ever since he left London after his studies, reached out to her from India.
He asked her services in accounting and to teach students in a new progressive school he had established in Udaipur of Rajasthan in western India. She agreed to the proposal, left her course in midwifery and took a course in child education instead, to prepare herself. When Gandhi arrived in London for the Round Table Conference in , Heilemann attempted to meet him twice but in vain. Understanding that time has not come for her to meet Gandhi, she concentrated on her preparations to leave for India.
She was already familiar with and inspired by the work of early 20th century thinkers of alternative education in the west, such as Ellen Key, Maria Montessori, Paul Geheeb, Rudolf Steiner, A. Neill, and John Dewey. Most of these progressive thinkers on education argued for child-centered holistic education that could counter the effects of industrial urban life and that emphasized learning through practical experience than rote memorization. At Vidya Bhavan, Heilemann was mainly responsible for teaching the junior section of the school and running a hostel of a dozen young children who lived with her However, she found out that although focused on social reform and child psychology, the educational approach was merely reformative and not progressive.
For instance, despite the general poverty of the state of Rajasthan in which Vidya Bhavan was situated, the school catered only for the relatively well- off, middle class, and higher caste children and not the poor and deprived of the villages. The other thing which bothered her was that while oriented to bringing reform in education, the syllabus taught was not practically oriented toward the needs of society.
What was more, English was taught and there was a tendency for its preference to the native vernacular. Despondent, she sought to channelize her energy elsewhere. Her sympathies went toward the depressed classes suffering social discrimination such as Harijans lower castes , Muslims, and especially women whom she saw were categorically disregarded by the more competent and powerful communities Along with like-minded others, Heilemann began urging purdah-clad women to come out from their reclusive world and spoke openly against such practices that bound women to servitude.
But she saw that the root cause of such repression of women and minorities were the ultra-conservative orthodox customs and superstitions and rigors of caste purity. Furthermore, her experience as a child psychologist helped her see that the group worst affected from such practices were none but the children. However, she 48 Purdah is literally a veil.
Purdah as a system is a segregation of the sexes in northern and western India where Hindu women wore a veil, i. Udaipur, , David Hopkins Private Collection. Not finding solace in the institution-bound teaching work or social reform at Udaipur, she began travelling to other parts of North India to learn about Gandhian educational experiments. The educational experiment at Dakshinamurti offered a refreshing alternative to that at Udaipur.
Heilemann noted that their method was student- centric and participatory based on learning through practical work and free from the orthodox and statist culture of official education. Moreover, the students were self-sufficient and rendered bodily labor. Instruction was in the vernacular, and was oriented to becoming volunteers to serve their country.
Here was an example that strongly appealed to her. She liked the indigenous and locally suited approach of the Dakshinamurti model meant for carving out revolutionaries. Sarala Behn It was at some point during her Udaipur days, Heilemann became known by her Indian name, Sarala54 Behn, given to her by her Indian comrades It was during this time that she came to meet Gandhi, at his ashram in Maganwadi, Wardha.
The visit opened up new horizons for Sarala Behn. Sarala Behn participated in village sanitation work then organized by Mira Behn at Sindi and learnt the art of spinning cotton and the economic and moral basis of the various constructive activities and experiments aimed at village uplift. These experiences at Wardha 51 Ivi, p. Badheka was in turn, inspired by the theories of Maria Montesssori and played a major role in implementing such ideas while molding them to the Indian socio-cultural and local context.
Yogesh K. Until then, she realized, she was only a reformer, not yet a revolutionary She now turned to Gandhian constructive work but found it lacking in the way it was implemented. The whole aura seemed to her forced and artificial. However, during this time, two gifted progressive educators, E. Aryanayakam and his wife Asha Devi, had joined Gandhi to assist him in this new experiment of Nai Talim. However, Gandhi was not in favor of her leaving Sevagram.
For this she earned the displeasure of many at Sevagram because she did not agree with Gandhi on every count Soon, the intense heat at Sevagram, the heavy workload, dysentery, and recurrent bouts of malaria took a serious toll on her health. Her stubbornness in using only naturopathy further delayed her recovery from malaria.
Gandhi later lauded Sarala Behn for her resoluteness in refusing mainstream medicine. The mountain air soon improved her health. Together with the founder of the Chanauda Ashram and her close friend, Shanti Lal Trivedi, she hiked up to the interior of the Kumaon hills covering hundreds of arduous miles in the Bhotiya64 region and border districts of the then United Provinces such as Jouhar, Munsyari, Choudans, Vyas, and Dharchula.
It was during these long journeys by foot as described in her autobiography that Sarala Behn came to encounter for the first time the hardworking women of the hills. While she saw that women of the hills do not practice purdah and have freedom to work in public places, she found in them a lack of self-confidence when the need came to speak out against moral and social wrongs.
She also became aware of the sharp discrepancy in the sexual division of labor in the traditional agri-pastoral communities of the mountains.
Related Gandhi. La forza delle idee (Italian Edition)
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