Biography of Sarojini Naidu

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Sarojini NaiduSaroji Naidu also known by the sobriquet The Nightingale of India, was a child prodigy, Indian independence activist and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh state. was a great patriot, politician, orator and administrator. of all the famous women of India, Mrs. Sarojinidevi Naidu's name is at the top. Not only that, but she was truly one of the jewels of the world. Being one of the most famous heroines of the 20th century, her birthday is celebrated as "Women's Day"

Early Life

She was born in Hyderabad. Sarojini Chattopadhyay, later Naidu belonged to a Bengali family of Kulin Brahmins. But her father, Agorenath Chattopadhyay, after receiving a doctor of science degree from Edinburgh University, settled in Hyderabad State, where he founded and administered the Hyderabad College, which later became the Nizam's College in Hyderabad. Sarojini Naidu's mother Barada Sundari Devi was a poetess baji and used to write poetry in Bengali. Sarojini Naidu was the eldest among the eight siblings. One of her brothers Birendranath was a revolutionary and her other brother Harindranath was a poet, dramatist, and actor.

Sarojini Naidu was a brilliant student. She was proficient in Urdu, Telugu, English, Bengali, and Persian. At the age of twelve, Sarojini Naidu attained national fame when she topped the matriculation examination at Madras University. Her father wanted her to become a mathematician or scientist but Sarojini Naidu was interested in poetry. Once she was working on an algebra problem, and when she couldn't find the solution she decided to take a break, and in the same book she wrote her first inspired poetry. She got so enthused by this that she wrote "The Lady of the Lake", a poem 1300 lines long. When her father saw that she was more interested in poetry than mathematics or science, he decided to encourage her. With her father's support, she wrote the play "Maher Muneer" in the Persian language. Dr. Chattopadhyaya distributed some copies among his friends and sent one copy to the Nawab of Hyderabad. Reading a beautiful play written by a young girl, the Nizam was very impressed. The college gave her a scholarship to study abroad. At the age of 16 she got admitted to King's College of England.


At the age of 16, she traveled to England to study first at King's College London and later at Girton College, Cambridge. There she met famous laureates of her time such as Arthur Symons and Edmond Gosse. It was Gosse who convinced Sarojini to stick to Indian themes-India's great mountains, rivers, temples, social milieu, to express her poetry. She depicted contemporary Indian life and events. Her collections "The golden threshold (1905)", "The bird of time (1912)", and "The broken wing (1912)" attracted huge Indian and English readership.

Love and Marry

During her stay in England, Sarojini met Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu, a non-Brahmin and a doctor by profession, and fell in love with him. After finishing her studies at the age of 19, she got married to him during the time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed. Her father was a progressive thinking person, and he did not care what others said. Her marriage was a very happy one.


Her major contribution was also in the field of poetry. Her poetry had beautiful words that could also be sung. Soon she got recognition as the "Bul Bule Hind" when her collection of poems was published in 1905 under the title Golden Threshold. After that, she published two other collections of poems--The Bird of Time and The Broken Wings. In 1918, Feast of Youth was published. Later, The Magic Tree, The Wizard Mask and A Treasury of Poems were published. Mahashree Arvind, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru were among the thousands of admirers of her work. Her poems had English words, but an Indian soul.


One day she met Shree Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He said to her to use her poetry and her beautiful words to rejuvenate the spirit of Independence in the hearts of villagers. He asked her to use her talent to free Mother India.

Then in 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi, and she totally directed her energy to the fight for freedom. She would roam around the country like a general of the army and pour enthusiasm among the hearts of Indians. The independence of India became the heart and soul of her work.

She was responsible for awakening the women of India. She brought them out of the kitchen. She traveled from state to state, city after city and asked for the rights of the women. She re-established self-esteem within the women of India.

In 1925, she chaired the summit of Congress in Kanpur. In 1928, she came to the USA with the message of the non-violence movement from Gandhiji. When in 1930, Gandhiji was arrested for a protest, she took the helms of his movement. In 1931, she participated in the Round Table Summit, along with Gandhiji and Pundit Malaviyaji. In 1942, she was arrested during the "Quit India" protest and stayed in jail for 21 months with Gandhiji.

After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman governor in India.

Sarojini Naidu's Works:

The Golden Threshold, published in the United Kingdom,1905
The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring, published in London, 1912
The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring, including "The Gift of India" (first read in public in 1915), 1917
Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity, 1916
The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan, posthumously published, 1943
The Feather of the Dawn, posthumously published, edited by her daughter, Padmaja Naidu, 1961

Gallery: Sarojini Naidu with mahatma gandhi ji

Sochi: Implications for the Caucasus By Stanislav Secrieru, Bucharest

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Predicting what will happen next in international politics is never an easy task. When it comes to the Caucasus, anticipating the region’s alternative futures is even more complicated. However, a high degree of volatility makes such an effort worthwhile. The Sochi Olympics is among the factors which should not be underestimated in scenario building for the Caucasus. Intensive preparations for 2014 already serve as a catalyst for economic development as well as a cause for environmental concerns. Looking beyond the immediate effects, the Sochi factor is also likely to affect politics and security in the entire Caucasus.

Future Scenarios and the Sochi Factor
Regional scenario building traditionally revolves around optimistic, hybrid (combining a mix of positive and negative trends) and skeptical projections. However, this classic approach is far from perfect. To reduce uncertainty about the region’s possible futures as much as possible, the foresight exercise needs to address the impact of local mega-events on regional developments too. As far future scenarios for the Caucasus are concerned, the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, scheduled for 2014, are a case in point. 

The Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi is located in the immediate vicinity of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia (113 km separate Sochi from Sukhumi) and the politically fragile republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia (part of Russia’s North Caucasus Federal District). The geographical location of the 2014 Olympic Games venue, coupled with the economic opportunities it offers (the event’s budget is estimated at $30 billion) and a variety of ongoing political and security challenges transforms Sochi, for the next four years, into one of the region’s focal points. Thus any realistic scenario planning for the Caucasus should consider the immediate and potential far-reaching consequences of this sporting event.

Intensive preparations for 2014 already serve as a catalyst for positive as well as negative developments. Sochi is a huge construction site which attracts workers from the economically depressed Northern Caucasus (in particular North Ossetia which is home to refugees from South Ossetia) and South Caucasus republics badly battered by the global financial crisis. An influx of Armenian workers into Sochi is already underway, a process facilitated by the compact Armenian minority which resides in the city. In this way, the Sochi Olympics provide job opportunities, alleviating to some extent the social pressure across a region known for high unemployment rates. On the negative side, the massive construction campaign inflicts irreparable damage on local ecosystems. Russian NGOs have identified grave irregularities during the construction projects, imperiling the Sochi National Park and Caucasus State Nature Biosphere Reserve, the latter of which is included on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. Civil society in tourist-dependent Abkhazia has quietly raised concerns about the massive extraction of local sand and stone for Sochi construction sites, worrying that this effort will harm coastal river deltas and Black Sea beaches. Thus, instead of improving living conditions, the “Sochi affair” could significantly deteriorate the environment of the local communities and damage the tourist industry.

Looking beyond the socio-economic and environmental impact, it is plausible to assume that the Sochi factor will affect politics and security in the Caucasus. As the Olympic Games approach, state, non-state and anti-state regional actors are likely to either restrain their behavior or engage in spoiler tactics. As the host of the games, Russia will actively pursue its objectives in the region. However, other regional players also see in the Olympics a window of opportunity, and are determined to push vigorously for agendas often running counter to those professed by the Kremlin.

Sports and Politics Nexus
Russia traditionally has been strong in winter sports, winning more medals than the average country. However, the national team’s poor performance at the 2010 Games in Vancouver proved to be a major disappointment. President Medvedev’s last minute decision to cancel his trip to Vancouver and the subsequent “purge” of the country’s sports federations provide a good sense of how Russia perceives its failures in international arenas and the importance it attaches to the Olympic Games in Sochi. In Russia, international sports victories are associated with the performance of the political regime. Thus, Moscow will work hard to prove in 2014 that Russia is still an elite sports nation. Domestically, a successful performance at the Olympic Games should uphold the Kremlin’s slogan, promoted over the last decade, that the country is “rising from its knees.” In terms of foreign policy, the extensive media exposure surrounding the games (an estimated 4.7 billion viewers followed the Beijing Games in 2008) provide Russia with a great opportunity to boost its “soft power” potential by overhauling its image and portraying itself as a “civilized great power”. The construction of Olympic venues from scratch may help demonstrate that Russia has not lost the ability to implement highly complex projects. As President Medvedev put it “this is our chance to show the world that we are a capable, hospitable and technologically-advanced country.”

Russian-Made Stability
In light of the Chinese experience in dealing with the protests supporting Tibet along the Olympic flame route, it is reasonable to assume that Russia will strive for stability (as this term is understood in Moscow) in the South and North Caucasus. Moscow would not like to see public opinion distracted by security and political problems in the North Caucasus, its illegal military presence in Georgia, or the potential renewal of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the worst case scenario, such developments could deliver a heavy blow to the Sochi Olympics PR campaign, provoke a boycott by an influential part of the international community, or result in the non-participation of the belligerent sides.

There are early signs that point to Russia’s intentions to assure stability in a highly volatile region. The creation of the North Caucasus Federal District in January 2010 and the appointment of the former businessman Alexander Khloponin to lead it indicate that the Kremlin is looking for a more balanced mix between blunt power projection and a transformative approach in the North Caucasus to address the structural problems which breed violence and unrest. Khloponin’s demand to appoint an ethnic Cherkess as a prime-minister of Karachaevo-Cherkessia in accordance with the informal power distribution algorithm (the president of the republic is an ethnic Karachai, the vice-president and speaker of the republican legislative is an ethnic Russian) shows that Moscow keeps an eye on the potential flashpoints close to Sochi and is willing to contain any manifestation of ethnic discord. In the South Caucasus, Russian diplomacy played a positive role favoring, even if half-heartedly, the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.

Far from being decisive, the Sochi factor is likely to influence Russian policy seeking to maintain the power equilibrium between Armenia and Azerbaijan to inimize the chances of conflict unfreezing in Nagorno-Karabakh ahead of the 2014 Games.

Georgian Politics and the Kremlin’s Game
With the Moscow Olympics of 1980 in mind, Russia is likely to prefer avoiding another military confrontation with Georgia, at least until 2014. But this does not mean that the Kremlin will stay aloof from Georgian politics. Moscow perceives the current Georgian regime as unpredictable, too unilaterally oriented towards the West in its foreign policy, and thus predisposed to play a spoiler game in the “Sochi affair” (for instance by supporting the campaign for the recognition of a “Circassian genocide” or upholding the ecologists’ concerns about the resource drain from Abkhazia). Therefore, Russia is likely to work hard to ignite regime change in Tbilisi well before the Olympic Games begin. To achieve this goal, Russian top politicians will prefer to address directly the citizens of Georgia, reiterating Moscow’s "peaceful intentions” and portraying President Mikheil Saakashvili as a political outcast (this was the gist of President Medvedev’s message to Georgian citizens on Victory Day). In parallel, Russia will multiply its channels of political influence in Georgia by cementing ties with what it sees to be the moderate or pragmatic segments of the opposition. Friendly NGOs and representatives of the Georgian Diaspora in Russia might be co-opted in this effort. Occasionally Russia will demonstrate the advantages of a more “accommodationist” approach to put additional pressure on the government in Tbilisi.

Former prime-minister Nogaideli’s visits to Russia followed by holiday flights between Moscow and Tbilisi, as well as the liberation of Georgian citizens detained by the South Ossetian militia, provides insights into the tactics Russia will employ.

Since the results of the local elections in May suggest that the prospects that Saakashvili will be forced to resign are bleak, Russia almost certainly will be indirectly involved in Georgia’s 2012–13 parliamentary and presidential electoral cycle. Moscow will act to upset the formation of a pro-presidential majority in the legislature and to weaken the domestic standing of President Saakashvili so that he will not be able to stay in power beyond 2013 or steer his heir through managed elections. Russia will seek a similar “revenge” as in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential elections, looking to reassert its position in the Black Sea region. However, Russian decision-makers harbor no illusion about the chances of a pro-Russian candidate. The best case scenario for Russia would be a succession to power in Georgia of a Timoshenkotype politician—one who is more sensitive to Kremlin interests and who would engage Russia in a pragmatic co-existence in the South Caucasus, pursuing a multivectoral foreign policy.

Given the tradition of turbulent power transitions, elections in Georgia might get messy. It is difficult to anticipate how Russia would act in the case of a prolonged power vacuum generated by a political struggle which in a worse case scenario could degenerate into small-scale armed clashes. Given its massive military presence in South Ossetia and the short distance (40 km) from there to the Georgian capital, Russia could relatively easily seize Tbilisi by mobilizing additional forces from the North Caucasus. But such a move would heavily damage its plans for 2014, embroiling Moscow in a risky enterprise and strengthening the Olympics boycott camp. Unwilling to pay the costs of such a move, as an alternative, Russia could join the international community (EU, US, Turkey) or foster a regional “consortium” of security stakeholders with Turkey to facilitate negotiations for a political solution to end the standoff.

International mediation would receive strong support from Armenia and Azerbaijan since both heavily rely on trade routes or energy transit through Georgia. A prolonged political instability and the potential disruption of transit through Georgia might serve as an additional incentive for Yerevan to make further steps towards the normalization of relations with Turkey which might lead to the opening of borders.

Russia–Georgia–Abkhazia Knot
The new Georgian leadership which will probably emerge after exhausting political battles could adopt a cautious and less emotionally-charged line on Russia. Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of the Georgian population (52 percent) disapproves the government’s policy towards Russia. Thus, if public opinion remains unchanged on this matter, the newly elected president might prefer to refrain from combative rhetoric and could take cautious steps to improve relations with Russia as much as possible in the post-2008 war environment. If Georgia opts for this track, then the Olympic Games in Sochi could provide a good occasion to employ sports diplomacy, especially if Turkish–Armenian joint efforts to open the border prove successful by 2014.

Nevertheless, the opposite scenario, Georgia’s boycotting the games in Sochi, can not be ruled out either. The move could be motivated by Russia’s meddling in the electoral campaign, its continuous illegal military presence in Georgia, and the involvement of Abkhazia in the Olympic Games preparations. But without dramatic changes in the post-war status quo in relations between Georgia, the separatist regions and Russia (including, for example, the occupation of new territories in Georgia proper close to the breakaway republics or an escalation of violence resulting in civilian deaths), it would be hard to “sell” the international community on a boycott of the Olympic Games and would reduce the chance to improve relations with Russia. Contemplated also as a punishment of Abkhazia, a boycott would do little to help Georgia’s cause by further alienating Sukhumi from Tbilisi. More than that, such a decision could portray Georgia as a state unable to find a long term modus vivendi between imperatives of domestic reform, normalizing relations with its important northern neighbor and upholding its territorial integrity by more conciliatory and flexible means that might pay off in the future.

Preparations for the Sochi Olympics will facilitate Russia’s economic expansion in Abkhazia, paving the way for the de facto incorporation of this region into Russia. The Russian government earmarked for the period 2010–2012 around $100 million for the socialeconomic development of Abkhazia. The breakaway region already serves as an important provider of natural resources (construction materials) and as a transportation hub (Russia gained control of the railway infrastructure for ten years) for Sochi. Furthermore, Moscow expects Abkhazia to provide cheap accommodation to 100,000 workers from the Olympic construction sites.

Russia is also considering taking over the Sukhumi airport (Babushera) and operating flights to Moscow. The Kremlin actively promotes the idea of a Customs Union between Russia and Abkhazia, which Sukhumi has resisted so far. As Moscow solidified its military footprint in Abkhazia, it was quick to suggest significant reductions in the Abkhaz armed forces. Thus, Russia’s overwhelming economic and military penetration in the years to come could alter demographics, eliminate the incipient political pluralism in Abkhazia and set the stage for importing Russian-style “sovereign democracy.” In contrast to Moscow, Sukhumi perceives the Sochi Olympics as a unique time that maintains Abkhazia in the spotlight and thereby opens a window for its “de-isolation” strategy. Turkey, home for a half million Abkhaz Diaspora, is seen as a channel through which Sukhumi hopes to break its isolation. In turn, Ankara, keen to diffuse Russia’s growing clout in Abkhazia and boost its influence in the South Caucasus, sent signals that it is ready to deepen economic ties with Sukhumi. Despite frustrations over the EU’s decision not to recognize its sovereignty, Abkhazia regards Europe also as a potential source of investment and know-how transfer. There are fears in Abkhazia that after the 2014 Olympics, international interest in the region’s fate will recede, leaving Sukhumi one-to-one with Moscow, which, while upholding de jure Abkhazia’s independence will effectively hamper any efforts to assert de facto statehood absorbing it (as Moscow did many times in relations with its “client-entities”) into the “Russian world”.

There is no doubt that the Sochi Olympics will have a multidimensional impact on developments in the Caucasus. The interpretation of regional trends and patterns coupled with a bit of imagination presented above revealed how the Sochi factor could influence politics, economics and security in different parts of the Caucasus. Although the prestige calculations of hosting the Olympics in Sochi will push Russia to seek stability in the region, some instruments and means employed to this end could generate contradictory effects. Other state or non-state actors’ competitive agendas could breed tensions or, in a pessimistic scenario, create an explosive mix affecting parts of the region or the whole area, ultimately jeopardizing the 2014 Olympics themselves. Nevertheless, there are fair chances that the Sochi factor will play a positive role too by restraining states from openly aggressive actions and diluting to some extent the patterns of enmity in a region with an acute deficit of trust.

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