Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13th, 1879 as Sarojini Chattopadhyaya in Hyderabad. Aghorenath Chattopadhyaya, her father, was a Principal of Nizam College and advocated for social reform and education for women. Naidu’s mother, Varada Sundari, was a Bengali writer and dancer. Naidu was educated at home; her father gave her lessons in Mathematics and Science and encouraged her to pursue them.
She passed the Madras University matriculation exam at the age of twelve and obtained Hyderabad Nizam’s scholarship to study in King's College, London, and later in Girton College, Cambridge.
Role in India’s Independence Movement:
After her return to India, Naidu embarked on India’s freedom movement. She took part in the Congress session in Bombay in 1904. Thereafter, she made associations with Gokhale, Tagore, Annie Besant, Gandhi, and Nehru. She went on to become the first Indian women to preside Indian National Congress in 1925 at its 40th session, Kanpur.
Naidu was involved in Non-cooperation movement, Home Rule movement, Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested 5 times during the freedom struggle.
Mahatma Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu during Salt Satyagraha, 1930.
As a suffragette and women rights activist, she advocated for reforms to improve conditions of widows in the Indian National Social Conference in Madras, 1908. In 1917 she headed the All-India Women's Deputation and championed women’s suffrage before E. S. Montagu (Secretary of State for India). In the same year, she along with Annie Besant set up the Women’s India Association.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
Naidu was appointed to the Constituent Assembly from Bihar. She spoke about the importance of adopting a national flag in the Assembly.
Naidu was appointed as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 15th August 1947. She held this office until her death on 2nd March 1949
Sarojini Naidu began writing at an early age and wrote her first poem at the age of 12. Her published poems include Songs; The Golden Threshold, Bird of Time, The Broken Wing, andThe Feather of the Dawn. Additionally, she authored Mahatma Gandhi: His Life, Writings and Speeches and Words of Freedom: Ideas of a Nation
Member, Ad Hoc Committee on National Flag.
1. During the discussion around the adoption of National flag, she narrated instances where she represented India on international forums and was aggrieved to not have an Indian flag.