Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Bhikaiji Cama

Mumbai City, Maharashtra

March 12, 2021


Born to an extremely wealthy Parsi business family, Bhikaiji Cama (née Patel) received her early education in Bombay (now Mumbai). Influenced by an environment in which the Indian nationalist movement was taking root, she was drawn toward political issues at an early age. In 1885 she married Rustomji Cama, a well-known lawyer, but her involvement with sociopolitical issues led to differences between the couple. Because of marital problems and her poor health, which required medical attention, Cama left India for London.

It was in London that Bhikaji Cama met Dadabhai Naoroji and inspired by his ideals plunged into the freedom movement. She also began to meet with other Indian nationalists like Shyamji Varma, Lala Hardayal, and soon became one of the active members of the movement. She began to publish booklets for the Indian community in England, propagating the cause of Swaraj. “March forward! We are for India. India is for Indians!” she defiantly declared. She also toured US, where she gave speeches on the ill effects of British rule, and urged Americans to support the cause of India’s freedom.

Madam Bhikaiji Cama became the first person to hoist the Indian flag in foreign land on 22 August 1907. While unfurling the flag at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, she appealed for equality and autonomy from the British which had taken over the Indian sub-continent.