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LATIKA GHOSH (1902-1987)

Latika Ghosh was an Oxford-educated teacher and freedom fighter. She started the Mahila Rashtriya Sangha in 1928 at the instance of Subash Chandra Bose. The aim of the MRS was to fight for freedom by mobilising cadres of women for political work. It was born out of Latika’s efforts to organise resistance to the Simon Commission, which impressed Bose deeply. He remarked that if he could have ten more women workers like Latika he could advance the cause of women by a hundred years.

Latika was expert at mobilising people and staging spectacles that would fire their imaginations and inspire them to fight for the cause. She vetoed the idea of having Basanti Devi, a veteran of the Non-Cooperation Movement, as president of the MRS, preferring Subash Bose’s mother Prabhabati as a figurehead as she would appeal to ordinary housewives and lend prestige to the organization as the mother of Bengal’s best known activist. The Sangha was composed of Shakti mandirs, or working cells, which campaigned to raise consciousness among the ordinary women of Bengal. In the year of its foundation, the women in their uniform of red-bordered green saris and white blouses marched beside men, with ‘Colonel’ Latika leading them, in the procession to inaugurate the annual Congress meeting in Kolkata. This sight made a tremendous impression on the middle-class Bengali community, as all Latika’s lieutenants were educated, well-to-do high-caste women from respectable families. Bina Das (q.v.), who later attempted to shoot the governor of Bengal, was one of her officers. She was also a founding member of the Saroj Nalini Dutt Memorial Association, set up by Gurusaday Dutt in memory of his wife.
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