During the British Raj, the Indian subcontinent saw dramatic social changes including the education of women. Even though it was mainly the women from the upper class who received education, within a short period women’s education became as important to the society as men’s. This resulted in various options opening up women, who were now slowly entering professions like medicine and writing. Many young female revolutionaries started writing for newsletters during the Independence struggle, and played an important role in creating the first few women journalists of the Independent nation of India. Today we introduce you to four of the earliest women journalists of Independent India:
She is widely considered as the first woman journalist in India and worked for several newspapers and magazines, including, ten-years with Russy Karanjia‘s Blitz. When the communist party was still illegal in India, she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1942. She broke some major stories, that received national attention back in the day, which included, a plot by two Canadian pilots who were trying to smuggle gold through the Sunderbans and the the Chinakuri mine disaster in Asansol.
India’s first woman photo journalist, Vyarawalla, was popularly known as ‘Dalda 13.’ Having started her career in the 1930’s, she photographed some of the most influential Indian politicians including, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Indira Gandhi. Apart from these, she also shot some of the most iconic photographs during the Second World War and most, if not all of her photographs, were published under the pseudonym “Dalda 13″.
In 1965, Doordarshan started airing a 5 minute news bulletin and Pratima Puri became India’s first television news reader. Some of her feats included interviewing Yuri Gagar, the first man in space. Even though much is not known about her, Pratima Puri was an iconic figure of the time. While celebrities like actors and dancers were not considered respectable, women newsreaders like Puri were inspirational personalities for young women in India.
In a country like India, cinema is religion, and one of the first and most popular women journalists to cover this beat in the country was Devyani Chaubal. Coming from a affluent family, Chaubal was best known for her fortnightly column, “Frankly Speaking” in a popular film magazine, ‘Star and Style’ through the 1960s and 70s. She was the first woman to use ‘Hinglish,’ (using Hindi words in her otherwise English language columns) in her writing.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: Eka Resources]