Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Legendary Crusader

1925. The Nagaon session of the Asam Sahitya Sabha. The then president of the premiere literary body of the state stressed the need for the spread of women’s education. Ironically, a bamboo-net barrier segregated the women from the men present in the conference. Chandraprabha went up to the dais and denounced the practice. She called upon the women to break down the barrier that confined them- the fences were broken down and it stays so, never to come up again. This fiery lady is Chandraprabha Saikiani, the pioneer feminist in the modern history of Assam.

Chandraprabha Saikiani was born on March 16, 1901 in Doisingari village of Kamrup district in Assam. Her father Ratiram Mazumdar was the gaonburha (headman) of the village. He had elementary education and urged his daughters to go for studies in the local MV school. Chandraprabha not only educated herself, but was equally concerned about the education of the girls in her surroundings. She was just thirteen when she established a girls’ school in Akaya village. She brought some girls under her fold and beneath a school with a thatched roof opened new vistas before them. It was in this shed of a school that, Neelakanta Barua, the then school inspector spotted Chandraprabha, the teenage teacher of the village school. He could see the spark and desire for education in Chandraprabha. She was awarded a scholarship to study in the Nagaon Mission School. Her younger sister Rajaniprabha accompanied her. Rajaniprabha too was entitled to a scholarship and later went on to become the first lady doctor of Assam.

Full report here Assam Times

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