After the success of BBC exclusive ‘Humari Purakhin’ (Our Ancestors), the second season has launched featuring eight Indian female pioneers from marginalised and indigenous communities. These inspiring women were the catalysts of significant social reforms and participated in India’s struggle for freedom.
The second season consisting of eight episodes will be available in text and video with two new stories releasing on:
BBC Hindi, BBC Gujarati, BBC Marathi, BBC Punjabi, BBC Tamil, BBC Telugu and on social platforms every Thursday and Friday over the next few weeks. Also available on BBC News, BBC Duniya (on NDTV), BBC Marathi and BBC Telugu (on Jio).
Rupa Jha, BBC Head of Indian Languages said: “The contribution of women in building a nation that is free from socio-cultural oppression and bringing the much-needed reforms has not been given as much space. Each story is truly a tribute to those trailblazing women reformists who came from underprivileged communities of different parts/tribes of India and were warriors in all senses fighting for women’s rights and liberation.”
Some interesting facts about the trailblazing female pioneers:
Uda Devi (UP): played a huge role in the Indian rebellion of 1857, though she doesn’t get mentioned in history. While serving the queen of Lucknow, Begum Hazrat Mahal, she killed 36 British soldiers to avenge her husband’s murder.
Krishnammal Jagannathan (Tamil Nadu): contributed to land reforms and fought for the rights of poor farmers. In 1950, she joined the Bhudaan Movement of Vinoba Bhave and compelled landowners to give some of their lands to landless farmers.
Rani Gaidinliu (Manipur): protested against the British government’s policy of forced labour and house tax regimes. After her cousin Hypong Jadonag was hanged, Rani Gaidinliu took leadership of the Zeliangrong movement. One of the major goals of this movement was to save their indigenous culture. She also led a political movement against the British army and spent 14 years in prison.
Jaibai Chaudhary (Maharashtra): worked as a porter at railway stations who later became an educator and opened schools for Dalit girls.
Hemlata Lavnam (Andhra Pradesh): helped to liberate women from the ritual of ‘Jogini’ (an illegal practice where dalit women were married off to God and turned into sex slaves). She rehabilitated around 30 Joginis and got them married.
Silverine Swer (Meghalaya): belonged to an indigenous tribe and helped girls find a new path through education and become scouts guides. During the second World War, she worked as controller of rationing. Later she was posted as Chief Social Education officer in Pasighat office and was the first woman from Meghalaya to get Padma Shri award.
Peero (Punjab): was forced into prostitution after the death of her husband. But after meeting a religious leader, she fought her way back and turned into a revolutionary poet. Through her poems, Peero challenged patriarchy, casteism and women liberation.
Jhalkari Bai (UP): was a dalit soldier who was instrumental in rescuing Rani Laxmi Bai from her fort at the height of the siege of Jhansi. However, she didn’t get recognition in Indian history. In the last two decades, several books have been written about her contribution to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which is yet to be accepted by many.