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Remembering Sudhatai Varde (1930-2014)
|by Vibhuti Patel|
Sudhatai Varde was extremely lively, cheerful person with dream of egalitarian society in her eyes. She was petite, demure in her looks, at the same time, extremely forthright, upfront and dedicated to the cause of women’s liberation. She passed away on 8th April, 2014 at the age of 84. Hers was a life lived for her commitment for progressive and secular values and socialist and humanist ethos.
Combination of Artistic Inclination and Nationalist Spirit
Right from her childhood she had great fascination for dancing. She used this talent for her social cause as a volunteer for Rashtra Seva Dal (RSD) which she joined as a teenager. She was involved in freedom movement thro’ RSD. She met her soul- mate Shri. Sadanand Varde who was also a mainstay of RSD and in due course she married him. Both of them were gracious and full of life and remained active workers in the social movement as patriotic socialists.
Sudhatai was closely associated with Mrinaltai Gore, Kamaltai Desai and Pramilatai Dandwate. Sudhatai’s involvement in women’s movement began with Anti price rise struggles in the early 1970s. She participated in the ant-rape campaign in 1980. She attended all events of new women’s groups in response to cyclostyed invitation sent by post to her residence in Bandra (W) which was initially an office of Mahila Daxata Samiti (MDS). She worked for Anti-dowry agitations (1981), Brides are not for burning campaign, Parityakta Mukti Morcha (Deserted Women’s Liberation Front), solidarity for textile strike (1982). In a campaign against dowry harassment, I remember Sudhatai shouting slogan against murderers of Manjushree Sarda and Vibha Shukla when we had protest demonstrations within Bombay High Court in 1988. She was a sympathiser of Swadhar that provided support to women in social distress. Sudhatai attended all shibirs, meetings, rallies, sit-ins and public meetings of united from of women's groups and state level coordination committee for women’s liberation- Stree Mukti Andolan Sampark Samiti.
Solidarity for the Marginalised Sections of Society
Sudhatai supported our efforts at the time of Marathwada riots after demand of renaming of Marathwada University as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University was raised in the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra in 1978. Members of Samajwadi Mahila Sabha to which she belonged in the late 1970, endorsed our findings that mass of Dalit women were sexual brutalized during riots. Our reports were published in several Marathi journals published by Socialists such as YUKRAND (edited by Shri. Ajit and Vasudha Sardar) and Poorva (edited by Shri. Dinkar Sakrikar).
Image (c) Jhelum Paranjpe
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