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Annie Besant – The Britisher who fought for India

Annie Besant

Many say that in the past, women didn’t get their freedom and rights properly. But, somewhere there were few women who fought for their rights and freedom and played the most important role as freedom fighters. Annie Besant was one among such women who ardently supported for Irish as well as India’s freedom. She was a socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer, orator, educationist, and philanthropist. As an author, she owes over three hundred books and pamphlets.

She was born on 1 October 1847 Clapham, London and UK. During her 20’s, Annie Besant became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society and also a writer. After that, she involved in union actions and became a leading speaker for both the Fabian Society and the Marxist Social Democratic Federation (SDF). She was then elected to the London School Board for Tower Hamlets and she topped the polling. During the 1880s, she studied at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, where she actually was impressed and interested to work for the social cause.

As she met Helena Blavatsky, her interest in theosophy grew and waned in case of secular matters. She later traveled to India for her theosophy related work and helped to establish the Central Hindu School in 1898, and in 1922 she helped establish the Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board in Mumbai, India. In the year 1907, she became president of the Theosophical Society, whose international headquarters was located in Madras. She also involved in Indian politics and joined the Indian National Congress party. The launch of Home Rule League to campaign the democracy in India, during the First World War, led to elected her as the president of Congress party.

Annie Besant always fought for the rights, starting with freedom of thought, women’s rights, secularism, birth control, Fabian socialism, and workers’ rights. In the beginning, she started to write about the attacks on churches and the way they used to control people’s lives. Her wages started when she was writing a column for the National Reformer, the newspaper of the NSS. Besides a profound writer, Besant was a “practiced stump orator” who gave sixty-six public lectures in just one year.

In the year 1931, she became ill and on 20 September 1933, she expired in Adyar, Madras Presidency, British India.  In her honor, her colleagues Jiddu Krishnamurti, Aldous Huxley, Guido Fernando, and Rosalind Rajagopal, built the Happy Valley School in California, which is now renamed as Besant Hill School of Happy Valley.

A woman who played so many roles perfectly, working throughout her life for social cause and freedom stands up as a role model for every woman. It’s a good opportunity for LEAD to mark her contributions to freedom and rights.

Written By: Priyanka Kammar

Mail Id: priyankaykammar@gmail.com

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