Janaki Devi Bajaj

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Janaki Devi Bajaj (7 January 1893 – 21 May 1979) was an Indian independence activist who was jailed for participating in Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932.

Early life and career[edit]

She was born on 7 January 1893 in Jaora in Madhya Pradesh into a Vaishnava Marwari family. At the age of eight, she was married to 12-year-old Jamnalal Bajaj, a boy of her own community and similar family, in a match arranged by their families in the usual Indian way.[1] The marriage was entirely harmonious and conventional, and Jankidevi was a devoted wife and mother. At the time of their wedding, the Bajaj family was one of very average, middle-class tradespeople; over the years, Jamnalal would build a large business empire and become one of India's earliest industrialists. [2] Even more remarkable was Jamnalal's reaction to the advent of great wealth. Jamnalal became more frugal and abstinent as his wealth grew, rejoicing in frugality rather than luxury, an instinct deeply rooted in Indian culture. This self-denial and simplicity would hardly have been possible but for the fact that Jankidevi wholeheartedly shared her husband's instincts, rooted in Indian tradition, and likewise embraced simplicity. So affected and approving was Mahatma Gandhi of Jamnalal's demeanour that he repeatedly declared "Janmalal is my fifth son." Jamnalal was the outstanding exemplar of the concept of trusteeship propounded by Gandhi.

Jamnalal participated in the freedom struggle movement, and Jankidevi also took up khadi spinning on charkha, working for Gauseva and the betterment of the lives of harijans and their temple entry in 1928. After independence, she worked with Vinoba Bhave on Bhoodan movement.[3] She served as President of Akhil Bhartiya Goseva Sangh for many years since 1942.[1] She was conferred Padma Vibhushan the second highest civilian award in 1956.[4] She published her autobiography titled, Meri Jivan Yatra in 1965.


She died in 1979. Many educational institutions and awards have been set up in her memory, including Janaki Devi Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Janaki Devi Bajaj Government PG Girls College Kota and 'Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha' established by Bajaj Electricals.[5] The Ladies’ Wing of Indian Merchants’ Chamber instituted the IMC-Ladies Wing Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar for Rural Entrepreneurs in the year 1992–93.[1]


  • Bajaj, Janaki Devi. Meri Jivan Yatra (My Life Journey). New Delhi: Martand Upadhaya, 1965 (1956).


  1. ^ a b c "The Story of Jankidevi Bajaj, Who Gave up Gold, Silks & Purdah to Inspire Hundreds of Indian Women". The Better India. 3 September 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  2. ^ "In Bajaj family, business sense over-rules ties". Financial Express. 6 April 2012.
  3. ^ Bharti Thakur (2006). Women in Gandhi's mass movements. Deep and Deep Publications. p. 118. ISBN 8176298182.
  4. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2007)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. 30 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2009.
  5. ^ "Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha". Bajaj Electricals.

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