PM pays tributes to Savitribai Phule and Rani Velu Nachiyar on their Jayanti

News Excerpt:

The Prime Minister of India paid tributes to Savitribai Phule and Rani Velu Nachiyar on their Jayanti.

Savitribai Phule:

  • A Dalit woman from the Mali community, Savitribai, was born on January 3, 1831, in Maharashtra’s Naigaon village. 
  • Married off at the tender age of 10, her husband - Jyotirao Phule, is said to have educated her at home. 
  • Jyotirao later admitted Savitribai to a teachers’ training institution in Pune. 
  • Throughout their life, the couple supported each other and, in doing so, broke many social barriers.
  • At a time when it was considered unacceptable for women to attain education, the couple opened a school for girls in Bhidewada, Pune, in 1848. 
    • This became the country’s first girls’ school.
  • Phule’s role as a social reformer beyond education:
    • Along with Jyotirao, Savitribai started the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (‘Home for the Prevention of Infanticide’) for pregnant widows facing discrimination.
    • She advocated inter-caste marriages, widow remarriage, and eradication of child marriage, sati and dowry systems, among other social issues. 
    • In 1873, the Phules set up the Satyashodhak Samaj (‘Truth-seekers’ society’), a platform open to all, irrespective of their caste, religion or class hierarchies, to bring social equity. 
    • As an extension, they started ‘Satyashodhak Marriage’ – a rejection of Brahmanical rituals where the marrying couple pled to promote education and equality.
    • They also set up ‘Balyata Pratibandak Gruha’, a childcare centre for the protection of pregnant widows and rape victims.
  • Savitribai’s literary works:
    • Savitribai Phule published her first collection of poems, called Kavya Phule (‘Poetry’s Blossoms’), at the age of 23 in 1854. 
    • She published Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (‘The Ocean of Pure Gems’) in 1892.

Rani Velu Nachiyar:

  • She was the first queen to fight against the British colonial power in India. 
  • She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai. 
  • She was the princess of Ramanathapuram and the only child of Raja Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and Rani Sakandhimuthal of the Ramnad kingdom.
  • She was trained in war match weapon usage, martial arts like Valari, Silambam (fighting using a stick), horse riding, and archery. 
  • She was a scholar in many languages and had proficiency in French, English and Urdu.
  • She married the king of Sivagangai, with whom she had a daughter. 
  • When her husband, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, was killed by British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. 
    • She escaped with her daughter and lived under the protection of Palayakaarar Kopaala Naayakkar at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years.
    • Frustrated by the joining of forces against him, the Nawab ordered Velu Nachiar and Marudhu Brothers to return to Sivaganga and rule the country subject to payment of Kist to the Nawab. 
    • Abiding by this Order, Rani Velu Nachiar, the Marudu brothers, and Vellachi Nachiar entered Sivaganga.
    • An agreement was reached where Rani Velu Nachiar was permitted to govern the Sivaganga Country. Chinna Marudu, the younger, was appointed her minister and the elder Vellai Marudu as the Commander-in-chief. Thus, the widow Queen, Velu Nachiar, succeeded her husband in 1780.
  • She granted powers to the Marudhu Brothers to administer the country in 1780.
  • She died a few years later, on 25 December 1796.

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