Nagamma Patil: The social worker who uplifted the condition of harijan children in Karnataka

Nagamma Patil was the social worker and the freedom fighter from Karnataka who worked for the welfare of the Harijan children in Karnataka. She joined the freedom movement on the call of Mahatma Gandhi

She was the social worker who worked for uplifting the condition of the Harijan children in Karnataka. She brought the Gandhian movement to Karnataka and participated in the Indian independence struggle. After independence Nagamma Veeranagouda Patil, who was popularly called ‘Amma’, dedicated herself towards educating children.

Early Life
Nagamma was born on December 16, 1905. She completed her primary education in 1923 and married the founder of Karnataka Liberal Education Society and veteran leader Padmashree Sardar Veeranagouda Patil.


Social Work
Nagamma worked closely with her husband Sardar Veeranagouda to uplift the condition of socially, educationally and economically backward women in Karnataka. She started a hostel for Harijan girls called Harijan Balika Ashram in Hubli. The hostel was based on the Gandhian principles and it became the only place other than Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati ashram serving the Harijan children. When India’s first Prime Minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru visited the ashram in 1951, he rechristened the place as ‘Kasthuribha Balikashrama’.

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Later, she founded the Mahila Vidhyapeetha in Hubli with her husband. Nagamma was dedicated to working for the children. She reportedly bathed the children in the ashram, cooked food for them and ate with them and would even cut their hair.

In 1937, she started a second Balika Ashrama at Byadgi and made it her base for activities against the British Raj.

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Call for freedom struggle
Responding to the call of the freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi, both Nagamma and her husband joined the freedom movement in 1938. The same year, she was arrested and imprisoned and Hindalaga jail in Belgaum for 3 months. She was also arrested and imprisoned for 13 months in the Yarawada Central in 1942.

She took an active part in the collection of funds for ‘Kasturba Nidi’ and reportedly donated her own gold ring for the same. She passed away in 2002.

As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who were part of the Indian Independence Struggle. You might have heard about some of them but most do not find a mention in our history books or popular memory. These were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom. This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and valour over the next one week leading up to 15th August 2017. Write to us, if you have any names to add to this list. Email:

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