India’ first woman Hindi journalist started her career from Ratlam & ‘connected’ the city with Lahore. Know how…?

Anjali Solanki

Journalism is called as the fourth pillar of democracy, and today we will discuss the first Hindi woman journalist who started her career from Madhya Pradesh’ Ratlam city and in fact, unaffected by the challenge of unavailability of printing press, also came out with a solution and connected the city with Lahore.

Now, let’s read this interesting story of the first Hindi female journalist Hemant Kumari Devi who edited the first woman magazine Sugrahini.

Ratlam: A city which paved way for women journalists

This woman journalist started her journalist career from Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam which presently is famous across the country for its three S i.e. Sev (Namkeen), Sona (gold) and saree. Every city has its own history and that is what makes that city special , so our Ratlam has also made a big contribution in Hindi journalism. So let’s read how? 

When Hemant Kumari Devi lived in Ratlam, there was not much spread of education. Also, there was no facility of Hindi printing. To get the magazine printed, it had to be sent out of the state. Firstly the magazine has to be sent to Sukh Samvad Press, Lucknow and later to Lahore to get published. The magazine had carved a special place for itself in expressing its opinion on issues related to women. Hemant Kumari Devi wrote major articles in the magazine on “Pardah system”, women education, health and physical autonomy. A message was always published on the front page of her magazine to inspire women towards education. In the fourth year of publication, this magazine was closed due to financial reasons.

Hemant Kumari Devi: Birth, Education and Marriage

Hemant Kumari Devi was born in the year 1868 in a Bengali family. Her father’s name was Navinchand Rai. Her mother had died in her childhood days. Hemant’s father was the principal of Oriental College, Lahore. He was a Social Activist and reformer. He was a strong supporter of women’s education and widow remarriage. On 2 November 1885, Hemant got married to Rajchandra Chaudhary of Sylhet with proper rituals. After marriage she went to her husband’s house.

Even after visiting her in-laws, she continued her work for women’s education. In Sylhet, she opened two schools for the education of girls. Besides, keeping in mind the health of women, arrangements were also made for a female doctor there. In the year 1887, in connection with her husband’s job, Hemant Kumari Devi came to live with him in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. Here she started editing work in the magazines. She in fact also taught the queen of Ratlam. In 1906, she went to Patiala where she stayed till 1924 and after that she was posted as Municipal Corporation Commissioner in Dehradun, where she died in 1953 .

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