Renuka Ray (1904–1997) was a noted freedom-fighter, social activist and politician of India.
She was a descendant of Brahmo reformer, Nibaran Chandra Mukherjee, and daughter of Satish Chandra Mukherjee, an ICS officer, and Charulata Mukherjee, a social worker and member of the All India Women’s Conference. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1988.
Early life and education
She came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi at an early age of sixteen and was greatly influenced by him. She left college to answer Gandhiji's call for boycotting the British Indian educational system. However, later when her parents persuaded Gandhiji to ask her to go to London for further studies, she joined London School of Economics in 1921. She was married to Satyendra Nath Ray at an early age.
Her maternal grandparents were the most distinguished couple of their times. Maternal grandfather Prof. P K Roy was the first Indian to receive a D Phil from Oxford University and a member of the Indian Education Service and the first Indian Principal of the prestigious Presidency College, Calcutta. Maternal grandmother Sarala Roy was a well known social worker who worked for the emancipation of women. She was the founder of Gokhale Memorial School and College and the first Indian woman to be a member of the senate, Calcutta University. Sarala Roy was the daughter of renowned Brahmo reformer Durgamohan Das and sister of Lady Abala Bose and S R Das, the founder of prestigious Doon School and a cousin of Deshbandhu C R Das.
On returning to India, she joined All India Women’s Conference and worked hard to champion women's rights and inheritance rights in parental property. In 1932 she became President of All India Women’s Conference. She was also its President for the years 1953-54.
She was appointed as Minister of Relief & Rehabilitation, West Bengal in the years 1952-57. She was also Lok Sabha member for the years 1957-1967 from Malda Lok Sabha constituency. In year 1959 she headed a committee on Social Welfare and Welfare of Backward Classes, which is popularly known as Renuka Ray Committee.
Among her siblings Subroto Mukherjee was the first air chief marshal of Indian Air Force who died in Tokyo and was married to Sharda Mukherjee (née' Pandit) a niece-in-law of Vijay Laxmi Pandit and Prashanta Mukherjee who was the chairperson of the Indian Railway Board and was married to Keshab Chandra Sen's granddaughter Violet. Her younger sister Nita Sen's daughter Geeti sen is a noted art historian and editor-inchief of IIC, Quarterly and married to renowned Bollywood film director Muzaffar Ali.
She is author of the book My Reminiscences: Social Development During the Gandhian Era and After.
- Women parliamentarians in India by CK Jain, Published for Lok Sabha Secretariat by Surjeet Publications, 1993
- Women Role Models: Some Eminent Women of Contemporary India By Gouri Srivastava. 2006. p. 37.
- "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs.
- "LIFE LIVED IN AN AGE OF EXTREMES". Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "RENUKA RAY (1904–1997)". Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- Development of scheduled castes and administration by Kamla Shanker Shukla, B. M. Verma, Indian Institute of Public Administration. 1993. p. 29.
- Social administration: an analytical study of a state. 1982. pp. 47, 52, 53.