The Thirst for an Education in Travancore in the 1930s: Manu S Pillai

[This is an excerpt from Manu S Pillai’s The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore, Harper Collins, India, p. 281]

“Scholarships were granted to girls for advanced studies outside the state, but the proliferation of women’s education under Sethu Lakshmi Bayi resulted in demand always surpassing supply of funds. One Janaki Amma wrote a moving letter to the Dewan stating that unless she could find money, she would be forced to return from the Lady Willingdon Medical School in Madras to her village and discontinue her education. The authorities could do little, as ‘there are already two [girls]in the Madras Medical College and two in the Vellore Medical School and all allotments had run out… Yet applications came in, and one eighteen-year-old called V Mary ‘on bended knee’ approached the Dewan to ask for a grant later that  year [1929]. She was a Mukkuva girl from the fishing community, demonstrating that across the board, interest in female education was steadily increasing. Muslims, Ezhavas, Christians, and others applied eagerly and it was telling of the kind of diversity in terms of caste as well as economic background when a typical board recommendation read how a certain application could receive funds ‘similar to the one already granted to Amina Bee Sahiba or Miss N Lakshmi.’


















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