Abala Bose

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Abala Bose
Lady Abala Bose.jpg
Born8th August 1865
Died25 April 1951(1951-04-25) (aged 87)
OccupationSocial worker
Spouse(s)Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose

Abala, Lady Bose (Bengali: অবলা বসু Ôbola Boshu) (8 August and 1865 – 25 April 1951) was a British Indian social worker well known for her efforts in the field of women’s education and her contribution towards the alleviation of the condition of widows.[1]


Daughter of the renowned Brahmo reformer Durga Mohan Das, sister of Satish Ranjan Das and Sarala Roy, and cousin of Chittaranjan Das, and also Chief Justice of India Sudhi Ranjan Das. She was born at Barisal on 8 April 1864. She belonged to the famous Das family of Telirbagh, Dhaka, now in Bangladesh. She was married to Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the renowned scientist, and had occasion to travel abroad with him many times.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was amongst the early students of Banga Mahila Vidyalaya and Bethune School (established by Bethune), and passed entrance with a scholarship in 1881. As she could not secure admission to Calcutta Medical College, being a woman, she went to Madras (now Chennai) in 1882 on Bengal government scholarship to study medicine. She appeared in the final examination but had to return because of ill health before the result was declared. She actually passed the examination but never came to know. She got married in 1887.[1]

She was one of the early feminists, apart from being an educator. Writing in the Modern Review, a leading English magazine in those days, she argued that women should have a deeper and extended education, 'not because we may make better matches for our girls… not even that the services of the daughter-in-law may be more valuable in the home of her adoption, but because a woman like a man is first of all a mind, and only in the second place physical and a body.' It was from her that Kamini Roy, who studied with her in Bethune School, picked up the threads of her feminism.[2] Upon her husband's knighthood in 1916, she became Lady Bose.

Later life[edit]

Sister Nivedita, Sister Christine, Charlotte Sevier, and Lady Abala Bose in Mayavati

She set up the Nari Shiksha Samiti, a non profit making Society registered under Act XXI of 1860, was founded in 1919 by Lady Abala Bose, Wife of the illustrious scientist Acharya Jagadis Chandra Bose with the objective of educating children, girls and women. ninety years ago, Nari Siksha Samiti (a non-profit making voluntary society for public charity viz. Education and Vocational Training of distressed Women) came into existence in 1919. It is important to look back at the social history of Bengal of the 19th and early 20th century in order to appreciate the need for such work done in favour of women and girls. Child marriages were the order of the day as was the presence of child widows in large numbers in a callous society. Lack of education and total economic and social dependence on the male members of the family resulted in the very low status held by women at that time. Dowry and other social pressures on women in general and some of the disadvantaged sections such as widows in particular, made the lives of the majority of women intolerable. Under the influence of Raja Rammohan Roy, Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Sister Nivedita, new perceptions concerning women started emerging and those women who were fortune enough to grow up in the milieu of the new enlightenment did not overlook the plight of the vast majority of their less fortunate sisters.

Lady Abala Bose during her lifetime established about 88 Primary Schools and 14 Adult Educationa Centers in different parts of undivided Bengal. Lady bose was also the pioneer thinker for establishing Centres like Mahila Shilpa Bhavan in Kolkata and Jhargram for providing vocational training to distressed women, particularly widows, and securing placement for them so that they could earn their own livelihood through private entrepreneurship. In India, she was the first person who through of institutional Pre-Primary and Primary Teacher's Training for Which she established Vidyasagar Bani Bhavan Primary Teachers Training Institute in 1925. The sensitive perception of the needs of impoverished women in urban and rural Bengal and of the young oppressed widows led Lady Bose to formulae a pattern of education through the aegis of Nari Siksha Samiti to fulfill the crying demands of the time. A piece of land at 294/3 A.P.C Rd. was donated to Nari Siksha Samiti by the then Mayor of Calcutta Corporation, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, from where the activities of the Samiti commenced and continues to do so till date.

Founders: Lady Abala Bose, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Smt. Jadumati Mukherjee (Mother of Sir Rajen Mukherjee), Eminent Scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, Eminent Social Reformer Smt. Priyambada Banerjee, Eminent Physician Sir Nilratan Sircar, Smt. Bimala Das, Sir Devaprasad Sarbhidhikari, Sir D.C Mitter, Swami Saradananda, Shri Prafullanath Tagore, Sri S.M. Bose, Smt. Charubala Mitter, Smt. Suprava Ray (Mother of Eminent Film Director, Sri Satyajit Ray) and many other eminent personalities of the emerging Bengal Renaissance.)for the spread of women’s education and for providing financial assistance to widows. This organisation had established around 200 schools in rural areas. In order to provide teachers for these schools she set up Vidyasagar Bani Bhaban, Mahila Shilpa Bhaban and Bani Bhaban Training School for young widows. After her husband’s death she donated Rs 10,000,000 (US$200,000 in 2015 dollars) to set up the Sister Nivedita Women’s Education Fund, which set up the Adults Primary Education Centre. She was Secretary of Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya from 1910 to 1936. She died on 26 April 1951.[1]

The principal aim of Nari Shiksha Samiti, set up in 1915, was to establish primary schools, prepare suitable text books and open maternity and child welfare centres. In its earlier years it established several schools, including Muralidhar College for girls but from 1921 on it shifted its focus to backward villages. Vidyasagar Bani Bhawan (Widows Home) (1922) Mahila Shilpa Bhawan(1926) Vidyasagar Bani Bhawan Training School (Jr, Sr.) 1935) Adult Primary Education Centre (General & Home Industries) (1938) Vidyasagar Bani Bhawan, Jhargram (1939) [2]


  1. ^ a b c d Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (in Bengali), p23, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  2. ^ a b Ray, Bharati, Women in Calcutta: the Years of Change, in Calcutta The Living City Vol II, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, first published 1990, paperback edition 2005, pp. 36-39, ISBN 0-19-563697-X.

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