Encouraging Industrial Habits Among Women: K Bhagirathy Amma

[Proceedings of the Shri Mulam Popular Assembly, 11 March, 1932, pp. 45-46.]

27. Suggestions for encouraging industrial habits among women

SRIMATI K BHAGIRATHY AMMA (Nominated):    thanked the Government for nominating her as a member of the Assembly and prayed for a long and prosperous reign for His Highness the Maha Raja. She said that the future of the women of the country depended on their industry. The system of education obtaining in the country was fit only to produce persons for Government service. Continue reading “Encouraging Industrial Habits Among Women: K Bhagirathy Amma”

Swimming Hard, Staying Light: Annie Thayyil on Facing the Challenge of Staying Alive

Translated by J Devika

[These translated chapters and the excerpt from a third chapter are from the autobiography of the veteran Congress woman Annie Thayyil (Annie Joseph) (1920-1994) (Edangaziyile Kurisu, Kottayam: DC Books, 1990), who was a prominent presence in politics in the Cochin state and among the first women to contest and win the elections in pre-Independence Cochin state. She was a member of the Cochin Legislative Council between 1945 and 1951, but struggled to stay in heavily male-dominated politics, supporting herself through her writing, and often at the brink of penury.  She however  ran a press, edited a paper and a magazine (Prajamitram and Vanitha) , earned a law degree in between, and served on Central Social Welfare Board, Catholic Congress, and later, on the National Minorities Commission. As a translator of classic literature to Malayalam and a writer, she was also on the executive council of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi. Her life was a remarkable quest for lightness and independence, as is evident from these chapters.

But equally interesting — and disturbing — is the dynamics of her relationship with her household help — the subaltern — Velama.  The critical history of the power dynamics between women in unfolding Malayali modernity needs to be traced through accounts such as these.] Continue reading “Swimming Hard, Staying Light: Annie Thayyil on Facing the Challenge of Staying Alive”

Women and Freedom: B Pachi Amma

Translated by J Devika

[ this is an earlier version of the translation that appeared in my book Her-Self, published by Stree/Samya, Kolkata, 2005, For a fuller, annotated version, please refer the book]

[ ‘Streekalum Swatantryavum (Bhagam- 1)’, The Mahila 1 (3), March 1921: 108-13]

[This seems to be a pseudonym, probably used by B Bhageerathy Amma]

Good heavens! Many eyes will redden, many faces will be etched with deep frowns, upon seeing these two words written together! Many may decide to reject the article without reading it or indeed, fling down the magazine in a huff. I would like humbly request such readers to resort to such imprudent acts only after reading the whole article. Continue reading “Women and Freedom: B Pachi Amma”

Our Women: Nidheerikkal Mariam (Mrs I C Chacko)

Translated by J Devika

[This is an earlier version of the translation that appeared in my book Her-Self, published by Stree/Samya, Kolkata, 2005. For a fuller, annotated version, refer the book]

 

Nidheerikkal Mariam, later Mrs. I. C. Chacko, (1892-1966) was born in a distinguished Syrian Christian family in Alappuzha, as the daughter of a well-known lawyer, Nidheerikkal Cyriac. She was educated in Thiruvananthapuram, passing the F. A examination from the Maharajah’s College for Women. However, unlike two of her younger sisters Teresa Nidhiry and Anna Nidhiry, who both had careers in education, she did not pursue her studies. At seventeen, she was married off to I.C. Chacko, who was to be known as a brilliant scholar and intellectual in Tiruvitamkoor. She was known to be an outspoken and uncompromising champion of women’s rights. The article below is the speech she made at the women’s meeting held as part of the All-Kerala Catholic Conference at Pala in Tiruvitamkoor in 1924-25. I. C. Chacko’s biographer notes that the speech created a veritable storm within the community, and that she and her husband received threatening letters after that. She is also said to have published a volume of stories titled Sanmargakathakal.

Continue reading “Our Women: Nidheerikkal Mariam (Mrs I C Chacko)”

On the Freedom of Women: Anna Chandy

Translated by J Devika

[this is an earlier version of my translation that appeared in my book Her-Self, which was published by Stree/Samya, Kolkata, 2005. For a fuller, annotated version, please refer the book]

     Anna Chandy (1905-1996) was one of the most articulate representatives of the ‘first-generation’ feminists in Malayali society, but she is now much better known for her remarkable career. Brought up in Thiruvananthapuram, she earned a post-graduate degree with distinction in 1926, and went on to become the first woman in Kerala to earn a degree in Law. She joined the Bar in 1929 and soon earned fame as an eminent practitioner in Criminal Law, and as an ardent champion of women’s rights, especially in the publication she founded and edited, Shrimati. She was a member of the Shree Mulam Popular Assembly between 1932-34, and was appointed  First Grade Munsif in 1937, the first Malayali woman to occupy the post. In 1948, she became District Judge and a High Court Judge in 1959. She also served as a member of the Law Commission after her retirement in 1967. Her autobiography was serialised in the Malayala Manorama in 1971, and published under the title Atmakatha in 1973 (Thrissur: Carmel Books). Continue reading “On the Freedom of Women: Anna Chandy”