Freedom Movement- Umabai Kundapur
Write a short note on Umabai Kundapur’s contribution to the freedom movement.
It’s a direct question
Write about Umabai Kundapur and her contribution to freedom movement
Umabai Kundapur was one such crusader who set up one of the largest voluntary organisations during India’s freedom struggle, activating local women, who had never stepped out of their homes. An inspiration for well-known freedom fighters like Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Umabai touched thousands of lives.
Umabai was born in Mangalore as Bhavani Golikeri to parents Golikeri Krishna Rao and Jungabai in 1892. She had four brothers besides. They were early migrants to Mumbai, then an upcoming metropolis of international importance. She was married at the age of 13 to Sanjiv Rao Kundapur. Her father-in-law Anandarao Kundapur was a reformist and staunch believer in upliftment of women. Under his encouragement, Umabai continued education after marriage and passed the matriculation examination. Thereafter she helped the father-in-law in educating women through Gaundevi Mahila Samaj, Mumbai.
At the age of 25, she lost her husband (who died of tuberculosis). Ananda Rao tried his best to console the young daughter-in-law. They then came to Hubli and Anada Rao started the Karnataka Press. In the premises, a school for girls "Tilak Kanya Shala" started and Umabai became in charge.
Contribution to freedom movement:
- Umabai was drawn towards freedom struggle and became a volunteer.
- She started advocating Khadi, wrote and enacted play on Swadeshi and recruited women volunteers by going door to door.
- Along with another nationalist, Krishnabai Panajikar, she also founded the ‘Bhagini Samaj’, an NGO for women.
- However, Umabai retained her association with the Congress and travelled across Karnataka, to encourage women to leave the seclusion of their homes and join the freedom struggle.
- Hindustani Seva Dal: she also came in contact with Dr N S Hardikar, who had started the Hindustani Seva Dal in 1924. It was to work under the supervision of the Congress party's Working Committee. Young people from different parts of South India and Maharashtra came to Hubli to receive training in drill, camp life, spinning, weaving and shramadan (voluntary work). The aim was to recruit an army of devoted workers by giving them mental and physical training to endure the hardships freedom fighter usually encountered Jawaharlal Nehru was its first president and Umabai became the chief leader of its women's wing. To enroll women in public camps for physical training and marches was an unheard-of revolutionary idea back then. But Umabai succeeded in galvanising the women and winning supporters, through innovative techniques like plays and theatre. It worked.
- Belgaum session: An important force in organizing the All India Congress Committee conference in Belgaum in 1924 (the only time Mahatma Gandhi presided over such a meeting), Umabai made a mark through her sheer organisational skills. A large number of women, including widows with tonsured heads, who until now had been conned to domestic chores, from the backward Dharwad district attended the session. This was unprecedented. During her campaign to galvanise these women, she also created a 150 strong volunteer network of women. Part of this was Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (Link to Chowpatty Satyagraha story), who years later played a very important role in the Salt Satyagraha at Mumbai.
- Salt Satyagraha: During the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, people (including women) had been imprisoned and when they were released they were often homeless, having been disowned by their families due to the fear of the British. Her house became a refuge for them.
- During the devastating Bihar earthquake of 1934, Umabai and her batch of volunteers persevered day and night in refugee camps. It was during this time that she came in contact with national leaders like Rajendra Prasad and Acharya Kripalani. While Umabai could not participate in the Quit India movement of 1942, due to ill health, but her house served as a safe house for a number of freedom ghters, escaping arrest.
- In 1946, Mahatma Gandhi appointed her as the head of the Karnataka branch of the Kasturba Trust which was formed for the upliftment of villages by training volunteers, the Grama Sevikas to educated, run health programs and manage child-welfare.