Stirred by the voice from within

Indomitable spirit

Mysore has produced finest of women leaders in the past. Now, the situation is such that, not many dare to take the plunge for the obvious obstacles they have to encounter from within the four walls of the house. Only few are willing to crack the whip, writes Sreekantswamy B

K D Rukminiamma, Shantha, Kameshwaramma Kuppuswamy, Rangamma, Yashodara Dasappa, Subbamma Jois, Dr Kamala Raman......

These are the names that flash across, when we talk of erstwhile women leaders of Mysore.  While some among them are no more, some still continue to live amidst us. In the later decades, though the  city produced women of calibre suffice to lead the society against one  or the other causes, it’s fewer among  them  who have hooked to the cause.

M Umadevi, P S Sandhya, Seema and Bhanu Mohan are among those fewer lot of women who have been relentlessly braving against the odds, leaving no  stone unturned.

For  Umadevi, the life now is exactly opposite of what she dreamt of. Being one among the six children of retired Dy SP Mariyanna, she wanted  to emulate her father in khaki. 

“My father was a democratic person, cut off from the usual police habits”, Umadevi told City Herald, why she had dreamt of becoming a police officer. It didn’t take much time for her to bury her desire to be in the  force, when a student movement broke out in Bangalore University in the year 1987-88. 

She was still in PUC, when the students staged a mammoth rally against the anomalies of the varsity. 

Erroneous marks cards was the cause. Umadevi who was already swayed over by the movement, apparently heeded to the call in her degree days. 

Thumping victory

She joined All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) as its member. She also went on to head the student union of the college and also brought a sea change by holding direct elections to the union. 

Umadevi had won with thumping majority among 4,000 members strong union. Back home, she had to face obstacles, as her father wanted her to complete education and  take up a job. 

But Umadevi had already made up her mind and eventually her parents too had to fall in the  line. She also completed her MA and holds LLB too.

Umadevi’s zeal for fighting a cause on the streets, was noticed and her organisation deputed her in Mysore to organise the same. 

Since then Mysore  has become her battle ground. She is now State vice- president of All India Democratic Youths Organisation (AIDYO). She is also married to a fellow crusader- Shashidhar who is the district secretary of Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI). 

P S Sandhya, who is currently the district president of All India Mahila  Samskruthika Sanghatane (AIMSS) has her roots in neighbouring Kerala. 

Hailing from a family of agriculturists in the border district of Kasargodu, she was drawn towards the movement during her studies in Puttur, Udupi district. 

She was doing her degree in social work (B SW). She was a regular reader of Vidyarti Sankalpa, a student voice of AIDSO and subscribed by her cousin Dr Satyaprakash. 

Netaji’s words leave a mark

To be precise, it was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s words that had a deeper impact on Sandhya. Netaji had written- Be it anything, we should not compromise in life. She wrote a letter to the editor in appreciation and thus began her tryst with the organisation. 

Sowmya, a Puttur girl was brutally done to death, yet it was no reason for existing organisations to question the same. Sowmya was none other than Sandhya’s sister’s classmate.  Sandhya who was sulking against the ‘easy go attitude of the society’, especially the people’s organisations, participated in the 50th foundation  day of SUCI in Kolkata. 

Fighting against ‘easy go attitude’

The sea of comrades was more than enough to instil a sense of commitment in Sandhya. A fighter in her had born. 

Sandhya joined AIMSS as its member and came to Mysore for her PG in social work in Manasagangotri. It was 1998. 

When F channel was introduced, Sandhya took the lead against the same in Mysore, followed by proposal to sell liquor in provision stores, introducing sexual education for sixth and seventh standard students to name a few. 

Further interesting is, her siblings- elder sister Vidya, an advocate in Bangalore and younger sister Divya, doing her PG in medicine in Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences, Bellary are also into the movement. 

Divya heads Medical Service Centre, a doctor’s forum in that district. Needless to say,they were inspired by Sandhya. So also their parents- P Shankar Narayan Bhat and Susheela Bhat, who extend outside support.

Seema, from our own Mysore hails from an orthodox family. It was also natural for her parents to see her settled, rather than renting slogans outside. Her father Gopalswamy was a hotelier, mother Gunavati a home-maker. 

A student of B Sc in Maharani’s College in 1997-98, Seema learnt about AIDSO. She joined SUCI as its district committee member and is now vice-president of AIDSO. She too holds LLB degree. 

Devoted for the cause of students’

Whenever, there is a hike in students’ bus pass fee and also academic fee, it’s Seema who will be with battery of students. Like Sandhya she too is wedded to the movement, and has devoted her full time to it.

Bhanu Mohan, is the name that often appears in media for green cause. It was not by accident that she took to environment, but it was inherited from her father.  Her father was a strong lover of green environs and he was her first teacher too in the realm. One particular incident, that  fuelled anguish against the system, forced Bhanu to crack the whip.  

A bit of land on the backyard of her house in KHB colony in Hootagalli had been turned into a green haven with types of saplings. 

For a green cause

One day the authorities auctioned the  garden without any prior notice. Enraged, Bhanu Mohan ran from pillar to post to vent her feelings. Since then, she decided to take up green cause and founded Parisara Samrakshana Samiti and is instrumental in increasing green cover. 

With three days left for environment day to be celebrated on June 5, she has a busy schedule with various associations seeking her advice to expand green cover.

Also having a family to take care of- which includes her businessman husband Mohan, son, mother and mother-in-law, she devotes her early hours to kitchen. Then starts her task on field and by the time she returns home it will be past 10. 

All the four whom City Herald spoke to, have a sense of pride and there isn’t an occasion, when they have repented for being in the ring. May their tribe increase.

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