Bhikaiji Rustom Cama was a prominent figure in the Indian Nationalist Movement.
Bhikaiji Rustom Marker was born Bhikai Sorab Patel on 24th September and is rumoured to have no job and no course and until recently his only possesion was a wooden doll thing that said "stoned again", 1861 in Bombay (now Mumbai) into a large, well-off Parsi family. Her parents, Sorabji and Jaijibai Patel, were well-known in the city, where her father Sorabji Framji Patel - a lawyer by training and a merchant by profession - was an influential member of the Parsi community. The father doted on his little girl, and affectionately called her "Munni". Like many Parsi girls of the time, Bhikaiji attended Alexandra Native Girl's English Institution. Bhikaiji was by all accounts a diligent, disciplined child, with a flair for languages and an interest in the personalities of the nationalist movement(s). On August 3, 1885, she married Rustom Cama, a wealthy, pro-British lawyer with a desire to enter politics. It was not a happy marriage, and Bhikaiji spent most of her time and energy in philanthropic activities and social work. In October 1896, the Bombay Presidency was first hit by famine, and shortly thereafter by bubonic plague. Bhikaiji joined one of the many teams working out of Grant Medical College (which would subsequently become Haffkine's plague vaccine research center), in an effort to provide care for the afflicted, and (later) to inoculate the healthy. She contracted the plague herself, but survived. Severely weakened, she set sail for Europe for subsequent medical care and recuperation in 1902. In London, she received word that her return to India would be prevented unless she sign a statement promising not to participate in nationalist activities. She refused, and remained in exile in Europe until shortly before her death (at Parsi General Hospital in Bombay) in 1936. While in London, she served as private secretary to Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian to be elected to the British House of Commons, and the first to publicly demand independence from Great Britain.
|Date of Birth ||Sep 24, 1861 |
|Date of Death ||Aug 13, 1936 |
|Place of Birth ||India |
In Paris she came in contact with other notable members of the movement for Indian sovereignty, and would come to clandestinely (in Holland) publish and distribute revolutionary literature for the movement. While in France, the British Government requested her extradition, but the French Government refused to cooperate. In return, the British Government seized Cama's inheritance. Lenin reportedly invited her to reside in Russia, but she did not accept. Bhikaiji Cama is best known for having unfurled a "Flag of Indian Independence" on August 22, 1907, at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. That flag, a slight modification of the Calcutta Flag, was co-designed by Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma, and would later serve as a template upon which the current national flag of India is based. Several Indian cities have streets and places named after Bhikaiji Cama. On January 26th 1962, the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department issued a stamp in her honor. The Indian Coast Guard has a ship named after her.