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LILAVATI MUNSHI (1899–1978)


Lilavati Munshi was a freedom fighter and politician. She was born a Jain, and married at the age of 14 to Lalbhai Trikamlal Sheth. The marriage was not a success, and Lilavati scandalised society when, after her husband’s death in 1926, she married Kanaiyalal Munshi, a Shaiva Brahmin and widower. From 1920 she had been associated with the freedom struggle, and this connection now grew. In 1930 she was active in the Salt Satyagraha, then the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932 and 1940. From 1931 she served in the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, as well as the All India Congress Committee (1931–34) and Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee (1935–37). She was a member of the Swadeshi Purchase Committee (1936) of the Bombay Government, member, Bombay Municipal Corporation (1935–45), member, Bombay Legislative Assembly (1936–52), member, Senate of the Bombay University (1937–46), president of the Harijan Sevak Sangh (1943–52), president of Hindi Vidyapith and vice president of the Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti, member of the Rajya Sabha (1952–58).

While serving the Bombay Municipal Corporation she was associated with the Children’s Aid Society, the Bombay Infant Welfare Society, the Society for the Protection of Children in Western India, Women’s Rescue Home at Umarkhadi, Gujarati Stri Mandal, Adam Wylie Hospital, Bhagini Samaj Seva Mandir, among others. She was also president, Bombay Women’s Association (1947–48), vice president, National Council of Women in India (1948–53), president, Bharatiya Stri Seva Sangha (1948–66), president, All Indian Women’s Conference (1948–49), president, Nursing Association (1952–57), president, Mahila Ashram, Motinagar, Lucknow (1953–57). She was associated with the founding of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and auxiliary institutes. In 1964 she joined the Committee of Hosts of the International Eucharistic Congress. Her writings in Gujarati include, Rekha Chitro ane Bija Lekhe (Pen Portraits and Other Writings: 1925), Kumardevi (A historical play, 1929), Jeevanmanthi Jadeli (Found from Life: 1932), Rekha Chitro—June ane Nava (Pen Portraits—New and Old: 1935)
 
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