This book focuses on the pioneering women's rights crusader, and leader of the crafts movement, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya. The author succeeds in placing Kamaladevi's life in the historical context of the nationalist movement, while simultaneously bringing out her personality.
Kamaladevi's varied and colourful life was a struggle against tradition: married at eleven, she was widowed soon after, but she refused to live the life of a widow. She went on to marry Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, the actor brother of Sarojini Naidu. In 1933, she courageously divoced him when few upper-class women would have dared do so. She later became President of the All-India Women's Conference.
Imprisoned on several occasions for her anti-imperialist stand and incendiary speeches, Kamaladevi participated in the Civil Disobedience movement. Within the Congress Party, she belonged to the Socialist group of Jayaprakash Narayan, which struggled for India's liberation, not only from colonialism, but also from the feudal system.
Kamaladevi's untiring work to save handicrafts and handlooms began after Independence, when Jawaharlal Nehru appointed her head of the Handicrafts Board, and continued long after she stopped holding formal office. She travelled to remote corners of India to revive dying weaves and formulated schemes to develop handicrafts. To Kamaladevi and her dedicated colleagues goes the credit for the resurgence of Tanchoi brocades, Kalamkaris, and Ikat weaves, among others. Later, as Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, she worked to enrich folk art performances, and brought together theatre workers and traditional artistes.
The biography of this extraordinary and multifaceted woman is written for a general audience, and is well researched from historical archives
About the Author:
Reena Nanda is a freelance writer and lives in New Delhi
Of Reason Fragmented
(C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture by Kamaladevi)
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