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ANUSUYA BAI KALE (1896–1958)

Anusuya Bai Kale worked for tribals and for the recognition of women’s rights in Madhya Pradesh. Her father was a lawyer and Chitpavan Brahmin, her mother was his second wife. In 1916 she was married to P.B. Kale, a widower. In 1928 Anusuya was appointed a member of the Central Provinces Legislative Council and an Inspector of Women’s Prisons, and the following year she joined the International Labour Organisation and toured the Central Provinces with the International Whitley Labour Commission. In 1930 she resigned from the Legislative Council and again travelled with Gandhiji in the Central Provinces, campaigning against untouchability. She was president of the Nagpur Congress Committee in 1935, and presided over the Central Provinces Harijan Conference in Mohapa in 1936. She was elected to the Central Provinces and Berar Legislature in 1937 and then became Deputy Speaker.

Some time later an educational inspector was convicted of raping a young girl, was sentenced, but released by a Congress minister. Anusuya succeeded in getting a commission of enquiry to look into the case; it found against the inspector and the minister was forced to resign. In 1937 Anusuya convinced the All India Women’s Conference to take up women’s political problems as well as social ones. In 1942 she worked to save seven Gonds convicted of anti-government activities from the gallows, and also endeavoured to better the lot of tribals. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and 1957.
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