Google doodle celebrates hero from forgotten times

New Delhi, January 3: Google India today celebrated India’s first female social reformer Savitribai Phule’s 186th birthday dedicating their doodle. The doodle portrayed a motherly figure of Savitribai protecting the women of India in her arms. She is the first Indian to have her doodle in 2017.

Regarded as the pioneer face to the Social Reform Movement for her work against cast and gender based discrimination in Maharashtra; Savitribai has given India a lot in terms of women’s education and welfare.

Born on January 3 1831 in Naigaon, Maharashtra, Phule is regarded as one of India’s first generation feminists for her significant contributions in ensuring equal opportunities for education under the British Raj.

In 1848, she opened a school for girls from different castes along with her husband Jyotirao Phule in Bhidewada, Pune. At that time she was welcomed with stone pelting in the orthodox Pune society.

In 1854, three years before the Sepoy Mutiny, she established a shelter for the widows and in 1864 built an accommodation to provide space for child brides, who were casted away by their families.

Although forgotten by the patriarchal writing of history, Google’s Art and Culture Platform, in partnership with feminist publisher Zubaan Books has been doing its bit to challenge this highlighting the achievements of people like Savitirbai in their new series of virtual exhibitions.

With over 1800 works of art and photographs sourced from 26 cultural institutions across the country, the viewer is introduced to grassroots activists, poet, scientists bearing rich history of women in India.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Scroll

Image source: google India

University of Pune, Now Savitribai Phule University of Pune

Pune: With the Maharashtra Assembly Elections just around the corner, the decision of the Prithviraj Chavan Government to rename the University of Pune to Savitribai Phule University of Pune (UOP) is being seen as a way to please OBC and Dalit voters to garner votes.

Last week, the State Cabinet cleared a proposal to rename the university after the 18th century reformer.Many NCP and Congress leaders have lauded the move. Rekha Tingre, NCP corporator, says, “Savitribai Phule had worked immensely for women, and this step is very much welcome. I believe the decision should have been taken earlier, but I am glad that it was finally taken”.

University of Pune. Image courtesy: education.worldnow
University of Pune. Image courtesy: education.worldnow

The decision taken by the University’s senate last year was waiting for a final nod by the cabinet. Previously, an RPI leader and now with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Avinash Salve, said, “The demand to rename the University has been in the works for the past 15 years. In fact, I had raised the motion once in the assembly myself”.

While there are leaders from both NCP and Congress taking credit for this development, there are those who are calling the decision a political gimmick to gather votes in the upcoming polls. Current students and alumnus from the prestigious university took to social media to oppose the renaming.

“With due respect to Savitribai Phule, I feel there could be better ways to express gratitude. The University would lose its identity if the name is changed; it would be like re-establishing an institution and an injustice to the alumni”, said Ashish (name changed), a student of the University of Pune.

Over the years Maharashtra has witnessed major Dalit movements with leaders taking center stage to push for rights and awareness. With Mahatma Phule, India got its first Dalit social reformer who worked towards improving the conditions of the weaker section of society. Later, leaders like Dr. Ambedkar followed the path led by Phule. Ambedkar led many major agitations from Maharashtra. He launched the Mahad Satyagraha from Raigad and with the Poona Pact of 1932, he secured considerable political rights for Dalits.

With the renaming of the University of Pune, another renaming comes to mind. The Namantar Andolan of 1994 led to the renaming of the Marathawada University of Aurangabad to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathawada University after Dalit blood was shed in the thousands.

Nilesh Kumar, a Dalit Activist explains, “This movement gave dalits of Maharashtra immense strength to resist the ongoing caste atrocities. Secondly, education was Babasaheb Ambedkar’s message to the Dalits of Maharashtra who have the highest education ratio among Dalits”.

But on the question of the timing of this decision, Avinash Salve said, “ When it comes to politics, every political party would take mileage from something like this”.

There is no denying of the politics around the renaming of Universities. After UOP, there are proposals to change the names of North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon and Solapur University.


Who was Savitribai Phule?