Dr. K. Janaki
One of the few women who entered the arena of freedom struggle and become popular in Hyderabad State was Smt. Saugem Lakshmi Bai. Her contribution extends the dual fronts - political as well as social and domestic boundaries. She used to attend meetings specially when there were restrictions from outside as well as from Nizam's police and Razarkars. The women who became the victims of the attrocities of feudal lords and Razarkars received protection under her benevolent and motherly care. She served the state as a freedom fighter, social worker and as well as a member of the legislative and executive bodies. She sacrificed her life and belongings for the cause of the women.
Saugem Lakshmi Bai hailed from Hyderabad state where people in general and women in particular were doubly opressed. Under Nizam's rule there was not much political awakening, infact general awakening was also absent. The feudal attrocities restricted any development in women. The feudal lords on one side, the Nizam's police and Razakars on the other oppressed the growth from other sides. There was absolutely no protection to the women and let alone any development. The autocratic rule of the Nizam exhibited discrimination on all matters. While there was some scope for education in Urdu or English there was absolutely any scope in [Telugu.] Lakshmi Bai was born in 1911 at Ghatkesar near Hyderabad. Having already lost her parents, she was advised by Sri Madapati Hanumantha Rao to join Sarada Niketan, Guntur in 1926 when she became a widow at the age of thirteen. The Andhra region was under the influence of the Social Reformers, where women were aware of their rights, and they were in a better position than the women in Nizam's State. Along with other women in Andhra region, Lakshmi Bai also got influenced she could respond to the call of the day along with other women in Andhra region.
Smt. Lakshmi Bai through born in autocratic Nizaam's state yet could participate in the freedom struggle in British India. Her participation proved that she had no regional bias when working for the common causes. She knows only one language - freedom; As a student she drew her inspiration from Sarada Niketan, Guntur. When the students marched towards the peace soldiers of Guntur district and sang the popular song "Veera Gandhamu Techinaramu Veerulevvaro Telupudi" and also asked them to read the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata only after the completion of the peaceful freedom struggle Shanti Samaram. Such was the spirit of participation of students of the Niketan where Lakshmi Bai studied and participated when Unnava Lakshmi Bayamma responded to Dandi March of Gandhiji by way of making salt the girl students of the Niketan followed her in preocession singing songs and offering Satya Gruha Nineteen year old Sugem Lakshmi Bai was also one of them. Having derived her inspiration thus from the school, specially its founders the Unnava Couple and the prevailing political atmosphere strengthening her zeal further. Lakshmi Bai began her political carrier with the boycott of the Simon Commission in 1928, and suffered one year imprisonment. Again when she participated in the Civil Disobedience movement, she had to undergo imprisonment till 1935. She was the staunch follower of Gandhiji and followed him even in his fasting in 1932. She was closely connected with the Swadesi movement and Boycott of foreign goods. In Vellore jail she had contacts with other prominent women leaders like Smt. Durgabai [Deshmukh], Smt. Rukmini Lakshmi Pathi and others. She was deeply influenced by Smt. Durgabai and other association which turned her to be a Social worker. The jail was a school for these women freedom fighters who learnt Hindi lessons from Smt Durgabai and English lessons from Smt Rukmini Lakshmi Pathi. Lakshmi Bai appeared for Hindi Rashtrabasha Examination from Jail and obtained certificate.
Lakshmi bai was a volunteer in jail and closely moved with all women and maintained a diary of events and her life at jail. She later appeared certificate Examinations of Sahiti in Hindi, Vidushi in Telugu and Sanskrit. She was a diploma holder in the art of painting.
Lakshmi Bai's political life in British India was terminated by 1938, but continued her services from homeland Nizam's Hyderabad state through non - violent path. She bravely consoled the martyrs of Nizam's attrocities. To cite on such example, she visited the spot where Shonabulla khan the editor of "Umroj" the popular urdu paper was murdered , despite hard suppression of the Nizam's police. She consoled and braved the wife of the martyr who gave his life for the cause of the nation. She attended the funeral with great courage along with few other leaders of the state.
Lakshmi Bai's services were extended to Bhudan Movement in Telangana along with Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1951 and collected 350 acres of land.She became the member of the Legislative Assembly in 1952 representing Banswada constituency as a Congress candidate. Lakshmi Bai then took up the cause of women and destitute. She also became the deputy minister for Education in Sri Burgula Ramakrishna Rao cabinet. She was the first women from Telangana to attain that post. She later became a member of Parliament (1957-1971) and served the nation for a period of nearly 15 years.
Lakshmi Bai founded Indira Seva Sadan at Saidabad in Hyderabad for poor, destitute women and children. She wanted to make these people socially useful and ideal citizen. This institution was built on the model of Bapuji's Ashram. It is a site of Sixteen acres and she made it self supporting one through a number of activities like agriculture, gardening and dairy farming. A school was attached to the Sadan. It has a poultry farm called "Kolahalam" and a beautiful garden by name "Madhuvanam" proves her aesthetic sensein giving appropriate names. The Sadan did not merely remain a rescue home giving protection to women but provided free education and training in vocational courses so as to make them self reliant. Most of these girls got married and settled in their lives. Though she was a child widow, she used to treat and feel that all the women in the Sadan were her own family. Thus the contribution of Smt. Saugem Lakshmi bai could be viewed from all these dimensions, crossing hurdles on regional, political and social fronts she exhibited herself as a true daughter of the laud. As a Indian she wanted to liberate the country. The impact of social reforms in British India could be seen on her, who later tried to follow the path of the great social reformers like Sri Kandukuri and others. She realised that no freedom movement could be successful unless there was awakening and fight for justice and for rights first. Her association with the local reformists and other political figures of the day like Smt. Yella Pragada SitaKumari, Nandagiri Indiradevi, Madapati Manikyamba and others, led her contribute more to the cause of women. Being influenced by Smt. Durgabai, she started and institution for women and destitute. Hailed from a middle class family experienced all sorts of difficulties - domestic as well as outside, unlike others, she worked the uplift of women. As a political figure in the government, she could mobilise all her powers for this cause. The background of other women leaders was entirely different in the Nizam's State. Some had the political background and encouragement from the members of the family. They could restrict their activities according to the situation. Bur Lakshmi bai's background and experiences taught her to be self - reliant, which she extended to all such people. Indira Seva Sadan is a living monument and bears the testimony of her championship to the cause of the women. Thus versatile lady was the recipient of Tamrapatra. The message she gave in the Sadan reveals her patriotism. This great soul took rest due to cancer on 2-6-1979. She championed the cause of women's movement. Her book about her experiences bears the testimony of her unbiased services to the nation, and to the state.
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