Feisty academic,rights champion

Dr Vina Mazumdar (86),one of the pioneers of the women’s movement in India,academic and scholar,died early Thursday morning at Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: May 31, 2013 2:13 am

Dr Vina Mazumdar (86),one of the pioneers of the women’s movement in India,academic and scholar,died early Thursday morning at Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital after a brief illness. She was cremated at Lodhi crematorium.

As member secretary of the first Committee on the Status of Women in India (1973-1974),Mazumdar wrote the committee’s report ‘Towards Equality’,the first of its kind on the status of Indian women,and a watershed in the fight for women’s rights. It was principally her work and energy as both an academic and an activist that helped establish women’s studies as a discipline in India in its own right. Several of her writings are prescribed course work in the subject.

A National Research Professor at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies,of which she was the founding director in 1980,Mazumdar was active until her last few weeks. She was among the first women in independent India who went on to graduate from Oxford in 1951,and where she returned for a D.Phil in 1961. She had studied before that in Benares and Kolkata. Mazumdar started her career in Patna University and subsequently taught political science in Behrampur University. She went on to join the UGC secretariat as an Education Officer,and became a fellow at the IIAS,Shimla.

After a stint with education,Mazumdar devoted herself to women’s issues. She displayed skills as an institution builder,helping develop the Centre for Women’s Development Studies,where she stayed until her retirement in 1991. Mazumdar wrote a series of scholarly articles on education and women’s development,as also her memoirs,Memories of a Rolling Stone. In the book,she described her own politicisation,her journey as a young mother,of how she first engaged with education and then got drawn into the women’s movement.

Better known as Vinadi,she is remembered with fondness by generations of students,including former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey and BJP leader and MP Yashwant Sinha. Mazumdar is survived by her three daughters and a son.

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