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Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu (February 13, 1879-March 2, 1949) was known as Bharta Kokila (The Nightingale of India) and was a freedom fighter and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Sarojini Chattopadhyays was born in Hyderabad, India. Her father was the founder of the Nizam College. She spoke Urdu, Telgu, English, Persian and Bengali. Her favorite poet was P.B. Shelley.

In December 1898, she married Govindrajulu Naidu and they had 4 children: Jayasurya, Padmaja, Randheera, and Leilamani.

In 1905, the first volume of her collection of poems was published as The Golden Threshold. Two more volumes were published: The Bird of Time (1912) and The Broken Wing in (1917).

She joined the Indian freedom struggle, in the wake of the aftermath of partition of Bengal in 1905.

Naidu says, "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because my right is justice."

Naidu adds, "If you are stronger, you have to help the weaker boy or girl both in play and in the work."

In March 1919, the British government passed the Rowlatt Act by which the possession of seditious documents was deemed illegal. Mohandas Gandhi organized a resistance movement to protest and Naidu was the first to join the movement which the government worked to suppress.

In July 1919, Naidu became the Home Rule League's ambassador to England. In July 1920 she returned to India and on August 1, Mahatma Gandhi declared the Non-Cooperation Movement.

In January 1924, she was one of the two Indian National Congress delegates at the East African Indian Congress.

Naidu arrived in New York in October 1928 and was concerned with the unjust treatment to the Negroes and the Amerindians. Upon her return to India she became a member of Indian Congress High Command.

On January 26, 1930 the National Congress proclaimed it's independence from the British Empire.

On May 5, Mohandas Gandhi was arrested. Maidu was arrested shortly thereafter and was in jail for several months. She, along with Gandhi, was released on January 31, 1931. Later that year, they were again arrested. Naidu was eventually released due to her poor health and Gandhi was released in 1933.

At the Asian Relations Conference of March 1947, Naidu presided over the Steering Committee. On August 15, 1947, Naidu became the governor of Allahabad.

Naidu writes:

Shall hope prevail where clamorous hate is rife,
Shall sweet love prosper or high dreams have place
Amid the tumult of reverberant strife
'Twixt ancient creeds, 'twixt race and ancient race,
That mars the grave, glad purposes of life,
Leaving no refuge save thy succoring face ?