June 03, 2013

AIDWA Pays Homage to Dr Vina Mazumdar

The following is the statement issued by the AIDWA on May 30, 2013 AIDWA deeply mourns the passing away of Dr Vina Mazumdar, our beloved Vinadi on May 30, 2013.Vinadi was a symbol of much that was of value and worthy of emulation in the generation to which she belonged. A generation of many ‘firsts’ for women like her – a generation born in colonial India that lived through the halcyon days of the freedom movement and grew to adulthood in free India; a generation that breathed and lived on the words and deeds of Rabindranath Tagore, the revolutionaries of Bengal and Punjab, Mahatma Gandhi, dedicated teachers and family elders who had newly imbibed the joys of education and enlightenment. It was a generation fired with the desire to serve a newly independent nation using all the tools that a modern education could provide. Above all, Vinadi, represented the first generation of Indian women who had not only accessed the hitherto forbidden delights of all that a first class education in an Indian metropolis and a foreign university could provide, but also enjoyed the freedom to enter into a profession, determined to make a difference and leave a mark. Very soon, she became an educationist who trained young minds to think and question wherever she went. She herself always remained open to new sources of knowledge, always aware of what she did not know but also unflinching in her clear-headed commitment to a socialist vision of emancipation. In 1971, she was appointed member secretary of the Committee to Study the Status of Women in India set up by the government. This was another turning point in her eventful life. The work of the Committee that went around the country listening to women in villages, cities in towns who belonged to every strata and class and what they heard brought home the unequal status of the mass of Indian women for whom little had changed and for whom independence was a word that mocked their own reality. Always a crusader for social change, Vinadi focused on the struggle for women’s equality once the work of the Committee had been completed. As she herself has said, she became, more than ever ‘activist and critic, academic and mobiliser, publicist and propogandist’. Along with colleagues like Lotika Sarkar, she founded the Center for Women’s Development Studies and dedicated the rest of her life to providing a unique bridge between women’s movements, of which she was an important participant, and women’s studies, of which she was a pioneer. AIDWA is proud of the close relationship we shared with Vinadi. She inaugurated the first and founding conference of the organisation in l981 in Madras and remained a source of inspiration, advice and unbounding love and affection. Today we salute the memory of a great woman, a great academic, a great path breaker and a great comrade without whom the women’s movement will be much the poorer. A line from Rabindranath Tagore was very dear to her – “The wonder of it all makes me sing”. A life like Vinadi’s has brought much wondrous music into the lives of innumerable women in so many corners of our country. AIDWA mourns her passing and offers heartfelt condolences to all her children and grandchildren, so many of whom are treading the paths down which she was among the first to venture.