Google Doodle Fetes India’s First Woman Graduate

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Google on Saturday dedicated a doodle in memory of Kamini Roy, a social reformer and the first woman to graduate with honours in India.

Roy was born on October 12, 1864 to an elite Bengali Baidya family. Her father, Chandi Charan Sen, was a judge, a writer and a leading member of Brahmo Samaj.

Roy had joined Bethune College in 1883, becoming one of the first girls to do so in British India.

She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree with Sanskrit honours from Bethune College under Calcutta University in 1886. She then became a teacher there the same year.

She went on to gain name for her social work in women’s education and alleviating the condition of widows.

A staunch feminist, Roy had once said, “The aim of women’s education is to contribute to their all-round development and fulfillment of their potential”.

Roy had written a Bengali essay titled ‘The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge’. “The male desire to rule is the primary, if not the only, stumbling block to women’s enlightenment… They are extremely suspicious of women’s emancipation. Why? The same old fear – ‘Lest they become like us’,” she wrote in the essay.

Roy had taken part in the Ilbert Bill agitation.

She quit teaching after 1894 and concentrated on publishing her works. She married Kedarnath Roy at the age of 30, which was considered late during that time.

Roy visited Barisal in 1923 and encouraged Sufia Kamal to continue writing. She became president of the Bengali Literary Conference in 1930 and vice-president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1932-33. She tirelessly worked to help Bengali women win the fundamental right to vote in 1926.

Roy was also influenced by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. Calcutta University honoured her with the Jagattarini Gold Medal for her contribution in the field of literature.

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