There are several important dates in India's journey, right from its Independence in 1947 to being declared as the Sovereign Democratic Republic in 1950, which will be remembered as milestones.
However, several other moments were an important part of this historical journey but were consigned to oblivion. One such date is November 26, 1949, when the Indian Constitution was adopted after two years 11 months, and 18 days of hard work. The true significance of Republic Day lies on November 26 itself. The importance of this historic day was recognised in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for the first time started celebrating 'Constitution Day' every year on this day.
When the Indian Constitution was being drafted, women in many countries of the world did not even have fundamental rights, but 15 women were included in the Constituent Assembly of India, which was tasked with framing the Constitution for Independent India. According To New India Samachar, here are the five women who played a crucial role in drafting the country's Constitution:
Ammu Swaminathan was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and was one of the very few women involved in drafting the Indian Constitution. She attended every meeting of the Constituent Assembly and actively participated in every debate. She was a strong advocate of women's rights, equality, and gender justice.
She complimented Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar's tireless efforts in getting equal legal rights for women. When the Constituent Assembly resolution was being discussed, Ammu Swaminathan remarked that "people outside have been saying that India did not give equal rights to her women. Now we can say that when the Indian people themselves framed their Constitution, they have given rights to women equal with every other citizen of the country."
Born on April 22, 1894, in Palakkad, Kerala, Ammu also made a valuable contribution to India's freedom movement. She became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian freedom struggle and was always at the fore in the fight to free India from the shackles of servitude. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and became a member of the Rajya Sabha two years later. It is believed that though she never went to school but understood the importance of female education. She also headed the Bharat Scouts and Guides (1960–65) and the Censor Board. She died on July 4, 1978.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
When Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, daughter of King Harnam Singh of Kapurthala, returned to India in 1918 after receiving higher education from Oxford, she expressed her desire to join politics. Initially, her parents were reluctant to enter politics, but eventually, they gave in to her requests.
She joined the Indian National Movement after some time. In later years, she remained Mahatma Gandhi's secretary for 16 years and was one of his closest confidants. Being a staunch supporter of Gandhi, she actively participated in the 'Salt Movement' and 'Quit India Movement' and was arrested on both occasions.
Born on February 2, 1889, Amrit Kaur also fought a decisive battle against the evil practices prevalent in the country. She insisted on introducing sports as a curriculum in schools to make the children stronger and disciplined and later helped set up the National Sports Club of India. She was also opposed to evil practices like the purdah system, child marriage, and devadasi system.
When the Constituent Assembly was formed to draft the Constitution for India, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur played an essential role as a member. After the independence of India, she was made the health minister of the country and remained in that position for 10 years. During this period, she made concerted efforts to establish the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi by getting financial assistance from many countries, including New Zealand, Germany, the USA, etc. She also donated her ancestral house in Shimla to AIIMS so that the nurses could spend their holidays.
Whenever there is a mention of the role of women writers in the freedom struggle, the name of feminist writer and political activist Kamla Chaudhry can never be forgotten. Born on February 22, 1908, in an affluent family of Lucknow, Kamla Chaudhry drew the attention of all the eminent litterateurs through her influential writings.
Her writings reflected oppression of the female gender and she always fought for their rights. While making serious efforts at the socio-political and cultural level to improve the living standards of women, she also actively participated in the freedom struggle. She was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930.
Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent call for the freedom movement, she formed Charkha Committees to unite women. She was also a member of the All India Congress Committee. Kamla Chaudhry, one of the 15 women selected from across the country in the Constituent Assembly for drafting the Constitution, remained active in the upliftment of women through literature and politics throughout her life. She was elected to Parliament in 1962 from Hapur, a parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh. She breathed her last on October 15, 1970.
An active member of the freedom movement and the Indian National Congress, Malati Choudhury actively participated in the Indian freedom struggle and struggled throughout her life for the uplift of the underprivileged groups, including Scheduled Cast Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Born on July 26, 1904, Malati Choudhury went to Shantiniketan in 1921 for studies at the age of 16 where she was admitted to Visva-Bharati.
Malati Choudhury participated in the Salt Satyagraha at the call given by Mahatma Gandhi. She went to jail with her husband Nabakrushna Choudhary, who later became the Chief Minister of Orissa (now Odisha). Gandhiji had nicknamed her 'Toofani' because of her fiery activities. Rabindranath Tagore affectionately called her Meenu.
She went to jail several times during the Indian freedom struggle. After joining the Indian National Congress, she founded the Congress Socialist Karma Sangh. Besides, she also founded Bajirao Hostel for the upliftment of vulnerable communities in Odisha. Malati was elected as a vital member of the Constituent Assembly in 1946. She continued to be active in social life even after independence and fiercely opposed the emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She died on March 15, 1998, at the age of 93.
Leela Roy, who inspired women to join politics, was a great advocate of women's rights. A brave soldier of the Indian freedom struggle, Leela Roy was born on October 2, 1900, in Assam and was a close associate of Subhas Chandra Bose.
Meritorious since childhood, Leela Roy obtained her MA degree from Dhaka University in 1923. Influenced by various freedom fighters, she did not want women to be left behind in the freedom struggle. This explains the reason for her painstaking efforts to enroll women in the movement.
She believed in the armed revolution and also developed knowledge to make bombs. Due to her active participation in the civil disobedience movement, the British imprisoned her for six years. She was the first woman from Bengal to be elected to the Constituent Assembly and her role for the empowerment of women cannot be forgotten. But she quit the Constituent Assembly in protest against the partition of the country.
Later, she immersed herself in social work and education rights for girls and started a girls' school in Dhaka. She encouraged girls to learn skills and tried to provide vocational training to them. She emphasised the need for girls to learn martial arts to defend themselves and established many schools and institutes for women. Leela Roy was engaged in social and political work throughout her life.