People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 32

August 09, 200

AIDWA Recalls Comrade Kalindi’s Contributions

 

“SELDOM do we find in leaders a combination of all qualities, such that they become beacons of inspiration and hope. Kalindi was one such individual. Her contribution to the women’s movement was immense, and multidimensional in nature.  But she never laid claim to her achievements. She dedicated herself to the Left movement, and she allowed her work to speak for itself. She was the moving force behind the Hindi journal of AIDW, Streesamya, which she edited and brought out regularly. She was a friend, a sister, and a Comrade to me. We will always remember her warmth and affection for people, and the way that each case of violence or injustice was dealt with by her –combining sensitivity with an uncompromising determination to ensure that justice was done. Through our work, we will prove that her efforts to bring about change were not in vain.  ” With these words, Brinda Karat paid tribute to AIDWA vice president, Comrade Kalindi Deshpande, who passed away in Pune on July 14, 2009, after a decade long battle with cancer.

The condolence meeting for Comrade Kalindi, held in Delhi by AIDWA on July 31 witnessed the participation of many Comrades from all walks of life, especially the women from the jhuggi jhopries and the poorer settlements of Delhi. It was Kalindi’s area level organisational work since the 1980s that had brought many of them into the AIDWA, and they solemnly paid their respects to this silver haired leader who had led innumerable struggles for rights on their behalf.

AIDWA general secretary, Sudha Sundararaman, placing the condolence resolution regretted the deep loss to AIDWA, and to the larger women’s movement in the passing away of this talented and dynamic activist. Kalindi came into the movement in the early 80s as part of the joint campaign against dowry, and had intervened on a wide range of issues since then, she said.  She combined her interest in theatre with the AIDWA campaigns and struggles, making them much more effective, and imaginative.

Kalindi’s area level work was recounted by Ashalata, assistant secretary of AIDWA, and Sonia, president of JMS Delhi, both of whom had worked closely with her for many years. Whether it was the campaign against communalism, or individual cases of violence, she would work tirelessly until success was achieved. She would put in long hours of work on any task that she undertook. She would nurture cadres, and take classes for them creatively. Her emphasis on planning and implementation contributed greatly to the strengthening of the organisation, they said.

CITU leader M K Pandhe spoke about Kalindi’s commitment to the cause of the working class, and her understanding of the need for joint initiatives by CITU, and AIDWA. Pushpinder, secretary of the Delhi CPI(M), highlighted her fearlessness, and her straightforwardness, which emanated from the strength of her convictions on behalf of women and the working class, and her commitment to Marxism. She did not hesitate to raise questions of gender inequality within the Party as well, he said. Brijesh from JANAM eloquently described how the members of their cultural troupe could always be sure of a warm welcome at Kalindi and Deshpande’s house in JNU. Kalindi would give creative inputs to their plays, and help them organisationally as well, he said.

Representatives from national women’s organisations, participating on this solemn occasion, extended their messages of condolence. Mohini Giri recalled having met Kalindi in 1984, and appreciated her versatility and in- depth knowledge of women’s issues. Dr Mary John, from CWDS, admired Kalindi’s spirit of and desire to pursue her academic interest as reflected in her decision to register for a Ph D on Tripura at a time when her cancer had recurred. Kalpana David from YWCA, and Deepti from NFIW also spoke on the occasion.

In a poignant speech Comrade Kalindi’s son, Sudhanva, brought out some more facets of Kalindi’s personality. Recalling how the personal was the political for her, and how consciously she practiced what she preached, he gave the example of her crusade against ostentatious marriages. Whether it was the chief minister of Maharashtra, or her own uncle, she spoke out in defense of her principles, when they held showy marriages for their sons.  He also recalled the unobtrusive manner in which she ensured the safety of Sikh families in their neighbourhood during the anti Sikh riots in 1984, an act of defiance of communal bigotry without any fanfare.  

A cultural troupe named “Bigul” rendered evocative songs at the meeting.