Oral History Recording Programme (OHRP)

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Oral History Recording Programme (OHRP)


Gowramma was a freedom fighter from Karnataka. Her husband Venkataramayya was a active member of Sevadal and was in the frontline of freedom movement in Karnataka. Following him Gowramma also joined Sevadal. She came into contact with Kamaladevi Chattopadyaya, Sarojini Naidu, Lilavati Munshi, Umabai and others in the freedom movement. Inspired by them Gowramma also participated in the Salt Satyagraha and Non Co-operation Movement. She was beaten up by police and put in the Siddhapur jail during this struggle. She went on a hunger strike while she was in jail. Gowramma recounts with pride feeling Gandhi's blessings, visiting Kamala Nehru while she was ailing and talking to Nehru

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Rameshwari / B.N. Usha



Kala Shahani

Kala Shahani was a freedom fighter. She was born in 1919. She grew up in Karachi. From the age of ten, when she had first heard Mahatma Gandhi, Kala has worn only khadi. Widowed at the age of thirty-seven, she took up a job in the Sindhi newspaper Hindustan. Her life is guided by the simple but irrevocable logic that the nation is a part of oneself; working for it should not be for personal benefits. Kala has chosen not to take the pension and other benefits offered to freedom fighters, for she says, "When you work for your mother-you call the country motherland, don't you?-how can you get paid for it?"

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Dr. Govind Shahani, her son

Mrinal Gore

Mrinal Gore belongs to the Socialist Party and is the President of Keshav Gore Trust, Swadhar Kendra, Nagarik Niwara Parishad. She became a well-known figure in the politics of Maharashtra because of the active role she played in the Anti-Price Rise Agitation (Mahagai Virodhi Andolan) and she later on came to be known as 'Panivali Bai' after she organised the 'Pani Parishad'. As the representative of common people, she has always fought for the issues that affect the everyday life of the ordinary citizens.

Here we produce an excerpt from her interview.

Interviewer - Dr. Rohini Gawanka



Leela Awate

Leela Awate, a teacher by profession and a Marxist, is deeply committed to society and humanity at large. Her involvement in political work began with the Quit India Movement and she was a part of all prominent movements after that. She has been actively involved with the Bhartiya Mahila Federation, Mumbai Committee in all its work, taking up women's causes, giving legal aid, creating awareness about women's rights and motivating them to fight against injustice. She is also a writer.

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Dr. Rohini Gawankar



K. Ajitha

K. Ajitha was a part of the Naxalite movement from a very young age. At present she is actively involved with all the activities of 'Anveshi', an organisation working for the cause of women involving counselling, a Legal Aid cell, community work, library and documentation work, organising workshops and seminars to increase awareness about women's issues. She is also involved in a networking forum, 'Kerala Streevedi' consisting of more than 40 organisations working jointly on many issues.

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Dr. C.S.Lakshmi


Parvathiamma is a traditional healer, who gives herbal medicines, specially to women and children. She treats women for infertility, menstrual disorder, anemia etc. She has treated more than fifty women for infertility and all of them have conceived.

Parvathiamma learnt Naati Vaidya (traditional medicine system) from her father-in-law Vaidya Shankarnarayan Bhat. She was married at the tender age of 12 and became part of a family of healers. Her mother-in-law and husband Ishwar Bhat were also into herbal healing. Parvathiamma has grown a moolikavana, a farm that has the rarest of herbs. She is now 81 years old but continues to be a healer. Parvathiamma lives in Vittla, in South Canara district, Karnataka.


Pammu Hengsu

Pammu Hengsu is a traditional midwife, who has helped many women in labour to have a normal delivery. After more than 80 years of experience as a midwife, she has now retired from her profession. Pammu Hengsu is 105 years old. Her eyesight and speech are sharp and clear. The only concession she gives to her age is a walking stick.

Pammu Hengsu has handled many tricky deliveries. Doctors attached to remote villages like Bayaru always preferred Pammu to attend the delivery cases. She would walk miles in odd hours to serve the women in labour and stay with them until she was sure that the mother and the newborn are safe. Three generations of the villages around have benefited from her service.

The unusual thing about Pammu Hengsu is that she also helps animals deliver their small ones.


Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham), was a Jewish girl from Calcutta. She worked as an actress in Hindi films and also was a producer and distributor. She was the first Miss India in 1947. We produce here an excerpt from her interview where she talks about how she dealt with a director who was trying to trick her into wearing a skirt that grew shorter and shorter everyday.

Maya Krishna Rao

Maya Krishna Rao is a Kathakali dancer and a theatre artiste who has an innate ability to transform everyday life objects into objects of art and create with them an intense theatrical experience. We produce here an excerpt from her interview where she talks about this experience, this amazement in theatre that she calls vismaya.

Bani Basu

Bani Basu’s writing career began with the publication of her first novel Janmabhoomi Mathribhoomi, in 1987. Her first collection of short stories was published in 1992, titled Mohana. Until her recent retirement, Bani Basu taught English in Howrah Girls College. Her novels and short stories have been widely acclaimed and her texts have been translated into many regional languages as well as English. Apart from her sixteen novels and story collections Bani Basu has also translated stories of W. Somerset Maugham and D.H. Lawrence into Bangla. Responding to the observation about the ‘commodification’ of literature, Bani basu wrote in a preface to her collection of short stories Baba Swader Golpo (Many-Flavoured Stories), that literature had always been a cultural production, a consumable commodity. She pointed out, however, that the profits generated from the sale of books rarely reached the writer in an organized manner.

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Dr. C S Lakshmi

Mona Zote

Mona Zote, is a poet and writer whose writings have appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including the Anthology of Contemporary Northeast Poetry published in 2003 by NEHU. She is in government service and is at present working on her first novel.

Here we produce an extract from her interview.

Interviewer - Lalhmerliani Fanai

Avabai Wadia

Avabai Wadia has been a pioneer of the Women's Movement and Family Planning in India and has held important positions at the national and international levels for several decades. From the interesting and moving conversation that we had with this remarkable 90-year-old lady, during a SPARROW interview, we thought we would share this excerpt with you.

Interviewer - Dr. Roshan Shahani, Dr.Divya Pandye.

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