Mahatma Gandhi had once said – “When a woman, whom we call abalaa (weak) becomes sabalaa (strong), all those who are helpless will become powerful”. The sacrifices made by Indian women during the freedom struggle is not unknown. They fought shoulder to shoulder with the men, with sweat and blood to attain freedom for the country from the Britishers. One such woman, who stood firm for the independence of the country was Bhikaji Cama. A bold and elegant woman, Cama moved out of her own house to fight for her own country.
Born to Bhikai Sorab Patel on September 24, 1861 in Bombay, she belonged to a well-off Parsi family. She was the first woman who hoisted the Indian flag in a foreign country. “This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag,” said Bhikaji Cama in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907.
Education and marriage
Good in her studies, Bhikaji attended Alexandra Native Girl’s English Institution like many Parsi girls at that time. In 1885, she married Rustom Cama, who was the son of KR Cama. Her husband was a wealthy, pro-British lawyer who aspired to enter politics.
Struggle for independence
Also known as Madam Cama, she is considered as the mother of Indian revolution. She holds an important place in the annals of Indian freedom movement. She was recognised as an epitome and her name symbolised courage, integrity and perseverance.
She devoted herself to various social activities and worked tirelessly for the upliftment of weaker sections of society. After she fell ill while serving the plague victims in Bombay, she was advised to go to England for rest and further treatment. She reluctantly left for Britain in 1902.
In Britain too, Cama did all she could to promote India’s freedom struggle. She also worked as a private secretary to great Indian nationalist Dadabhai Navaroji.
Bhikaji Cama became very popular in Britain, so much so that her popularity became a cause of concern for the British. It is said that they planned her assassination but she survived and escaped to France.
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Her efforts did not slow down in France. In fact, she became a leading inspiration for revolutionaries. She sheltered several freedom fighters and kept sending help in form of cash and materials across the sea.
This is a part of our independence day special series where we remember and salute the women who bravely fought in the Indian freedom struggle.