Kamla Bhasin has left us. Her passing has caused an irreparable loss to the feminist movement and One Billion Rising Movement in Asia. Kamladi, as she was popularly known, lives in her songs, verses, stories, speeches, publications in multiple languages and the most importantly in our hearts and minds.
Thousands of scholars, activists, young adults with non-English background (ridiculed by their elite peers as VERNACs) got their understanding of feminism by studying Kamla Bhasin’s booklets of Feminism, Patriarchy, Gender-based violence so on and so forth. Kamla made discourses on women’s rights accessible to the first-generation learners. Kamla became their window/door/pathway for the feminist worldview.
Kamla Bhasin was a founder member of Jagori , Pacific and Asia Forum (1985-1995), South Asia Women Network, Aurat Foundation and played pivotal role in forging solidarity among the feminist movements a across the South Asian Countries. She actively supported Indian Association for Women’s Studies right from its inception, was also the General Secretary of IAWS for Jaipur Conference and attended all IAWS National Conferences. In the last Conference at National Law University, Delhi.
Kamla’s speech brought to the fore heroism of the women’s rights movement and raised slogans for protecting the Constitution of India and of course, her most popular slogan of AZADI raised in her spirited style echoed the conference hall and lifted everybody’s spirit. In the month of May, 2021, we had invited her as a chief Guest to address the International Conference but due to her medical investigation she could not join us. We had a long conversation on the telephone.
On a personal note: My mother was a great fan of Kamla. She was so enchanted by Kamla’s deconstruction of the concept of PATRIACHY in a palatable manner in TV series ‘Satyamev Jayate’ that she discussed it with all her peers endlessly!! Educationist for gender equality will miss your live performances- electrifying singing, energetic dancing and forceful speeches for assertion of women’s rights and secular humanism. In solidarity with all fellow feminists of Jagori- SANGAT- Equity Foundation and many more, friends and family members of Kamla Bhasin.
About the Author:
Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Eminent Gender Economist and Feminist and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.