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India’s first woman photojournalist,a chronicler of history

Homai Vyarawalla,India’s first woman photojournalist,passed away

Written by Express News Service | Vadodara | Published: January 16, 2012 3:26:44 am

Homai Vyarawalla,India’s first woman photojournalist,passed away at a private hospital here on Sunday afternoon due to respiratory failure. She was 98. Vyarawalla was admitted to the hospital on Friday morning after she collapsed at her Nizampura home and sustained a fracture in her left thigh bone.

She was facing respiratory complications and was suffering from age-related ailments,doctor Shrinivasan Iyengar,who was treating the nonagenarian,said.

“The leg injury aggravated respiratory complications and she breathed her last at around 12 noon,” the doctor said.

Vyarawallas’s biographer and friend Sabeena Gadihoke,who had come to the city a few days ago to meet her,told The Indian Express that the photographer was quite healthy till the day she collapsed. She added that Vyarawalla did not prefer taking allopathic medicines.

Vyarawalla was born on December 13,1913 in a middle-class Parsi family in Navsari. Her father was an actor with a Parsi-Urdu theatre. She did a diploma in Arts from J J School of Arts,Mumbai,and learnt photography from Maneckshaw Vyarawalla whom she married in 1941. They later shifted to Delhi. She started her photography career in 1938.

Vyarawalla clicked some memorable pictures between 1938 and 1970. The pictures of first tricolour-hoisting after Independence,the death of Mahatma Gandhi,the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru releasing a pigeon and others have become part of national archives.

She also worked for British Information Service for many years.

A year after her husband passed away in 1969,Vyarawalla quit photography. In 1973,she moved to Vadodara where she lived alone till her last day. Her only child,Farouq,had died of cancer in 1982 and since then she had been living alone.

She was awarded Padma Vibhushan,India’s second highest civillian award,last year. She was also conferred with Lifetime Achievement Award by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2010.

Paying tribute to Vyarawalla,Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil and Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia said she had contributed in recording the freedom struggle and other national events.

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