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A Fighting Spirit: Selected Writings of Ashoka Gupta

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An active career spanning seven decades is unusual. And to describe Ashoka Gupta (1912-2008) simply as a ‘social worker’ is not enough. Till the last day of her life, she was a dynamo, who generated exhilaration and energy in those around her. In this volume, we have tried to capture her personality through her own writings and through the recollections of others. The earliest piece by her was published in 1945, the last written in 2004. They vividly convey the ethos of the times—the terrible 1940s, through war, famine, riots, and Partition—situations when actions spoke more strongly than words. The tragedy of Partition was overtaken by the excitement and anticipation of nation-building. For Ashoka Gupta the ideals of the Indian constitution were realistic, and needed to be strengthened by ceaseless hands-on work at the grassroots. Twenty years later, she stood by her husband to battle the injustices done to the refugees from East Pakistan who had migrated in the 1960s and were being ‘rehabilitated’ in the wilderness called Dandakaranya. This book will be of value to scholars of history, sociology and women’s studies, for those working on Mahatma Gandhi, on communitarian relations, on legislation pertaining to women, and on institutional frameworks, particularly the All-India Women’s Conference.About the authors Jasodhara Bagchi is Professor Emerita in the Department of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University. She studied in Kolkata, Oxford and Cambridge. After teaching English Literature in Jadavpur University, she was the Founder-Director of the School of Women’s Studies there. She is also a founder-member of SACHETANA, and was Chairperson, West Bengal Commission for Women. Her wide range of interests include writings by women, nineteenth-century literature and intellectual history in England and Bengal, and Gender and Partition in Eastern India. Sarmistha Dutta Gupta is an independent scholar, a literary translator and an activist of the women’s movement. Her publications include Identities and Histories: Women’s Writing and Politics in Bengal (2010). She is the founder-secretary of a Kolkata-based voluntary organisation, Ebong Alap. Narayani Gupta is Ashoka Gupta’s daughter-in-law. She retired as professor of history, and lives in Delhi.

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