Early Life of Bhikaji Cama
Bhikaji Cama was born in Mumbai on 24th September 1861. She belonged to an affluent Parsi family. Her father was an influential member of the Parsi community as well as a famous merchant who was at the forefront of business, education, and philanthropy in Mumbai.
- Bhikaji Cama attended the Alexandra Girls' English Institution and was known for being a diligent and disciplined child with fluency in many languages.
- On 3rd August 1885, Bhikaji Cama married Rustom Cama, a rich pro-British lawyer who desired to join politics. Since Rustam Cama was more influenced by and aligned with the Britishers while Bhikaji was an enthusiastic patriot who felt the British had mercilessly exploited India for their gain, it was not a happy marriage.
- She spent most of her time and energy engaging in social and charitable activities.
Bhikaji Cama Role in Freedom Struggle
In October 1896, Bhikaji Cama joined the Grant Medical College to provide care and vaccinations against the bubonic plague but ended up contracting the plague herself. In 1902, she underwent treatment in London and managed to survive. The other roles of Bhikaji Cama are as listed herein-
- While she was preparing to return to India in 1904, Bhikaji met Shyamji Krishna Varma, a well-known Indian nationalist who delivered a fiery speech in Hyde Park.
- Bhikaji Cama worked as private secretary to Dadabhai Naoroji (then president of the British Committee of the Indian National Congress).
- In February 1905, when Shyamji Krishna Varma founded the Indian Home Rule Society, Bhikaji Cama, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Singh Rewabhai Rana supported him.
- The same year (1905), Bhikaji relocated to Paris and co-founded the Paris Indian Society along with Sardarsinhji Ravaji Rana.
- On 22nd August 1907, at the second Socialist Congress in Stuttgart (Germany), Bhikaji Cama became the first person to unfurl the Indian flag on foreign land.
- In 1909, following the assassination of William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, the authorities in London requested the French government to extradite Bhikaji, but the French government refused to do so.
- In October 1914, while trying to agitate with the Punjab Regiment troops that had just arrived in Marseilles, Bhikaji Cama and Ravaji Rana were arrested.
- In January 1915, the French government sent Bhikaji Cama to Vichy (in France).
- In November 1917, Bhikaji Cama was allowed to return to Bordeaux due to her ill health on the condition that she would have to report weekly to the local police.
Final Days of Bhikaji Cama
Bhikaji Cama carried on the expatriation in Europe until 1935. After being severely ill and was paralyzed due to a stroke, she called on a request to the British government through Sir Cowasji Jehangir to permit her to return to her home.
- In November 1935, Bhikaji arrived in Bombay with Sir Cowasji Jehangir. On 13th August 1936, Bhikaji Cama, at the age of 74, died at the Parsi General Hospital in Mumbai.
- Bhikaji Cama emerged as a dauntless icon who infused among people the idea of patriotism and bravery during the Indian Independence Struggle.
- On 26th January 1962, on the event of the celebration of 11th Republic Day of India, the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department brough forth a stamp to commemorate in her honour.
- The ICGS Bhikaji Cama, a Priyadarshini-class rapid patrol vessel, was also commissioned by the Indian Coast Guard in 1997.
Bhikaji Cama for UPSC Exam
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