Kamla Bhasin

How Kamla Bhasin made South Asian feminism a force: Urvashi Butalia

(Urvashi Butalia is publisher of Zubaan. The column first appeared in the print edition of The Indian Express on September 25, 2021)


  • At Kamla Bhasin’s funeral on Saturday, people stood silently as her sister, Bina, performed the last rites. Shortly after, a young woman began a “conversation” with Kamla, addressing her as if she were still alive. Words turned into song and soon the entire gathering of feminist activists — working-class, elite, religious, non-religious, old, young and others whose lives Kamla had touched, broke into song. As Kamla’s favourite songs, many that have become anthems for the women’s movement, rang out across the cremation ground, people tapped their feet, clapped their hands, swayed to the rhythm and then, gradually, fell silent. A group of women — her close friends, her beloved relatives — then lifted her and took her in for her last departure. Inside they raised slogans, those she had shouted in so many feminist gatherings, and once again they sang songs of farewell and love.

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