January 26, 2018
Nagaland’s noted Gandhian Lentina Ao Thakkar has been conferred Padma Shri award for her endeavours in social work. She is the wife of noted Gandhian, freedom fighter and social worker Natwar Thakkar. Lentina Ao Thakkar is also the first Naga woman who was trained as a Gandhian woman volunteer at the Kashturba Ashram located in Ulubari area of Guwahati in Assam 1950s.
Here are 5 facts you should know about the 84-yr-old Lentina Ao Thakkar
#1 Born and raised in a modest Naga family in a small village called Merangkong, Lentina showed keen interest in schooling, and studied in three places—Merangkong, Chuchuyimlang and Mokokchung.
#2 Lentina Ao Thakkar, who has served as a Gandhian at the Gandhi Ashram in Chuchuyimlang village of Mokokchung in Nagaland for many decades, is the first woman in her village to study up to seventh standard. Lentina or Utsu (grandmother), as she is popularly addressed, is an 84-year old Gandhian who lives in Chuchuyimlang—an interior Ao Naga village in Mokokchung district of Nagaland.
#3 When Utsu and Natwarbhai decided to get married, it was not an easy affair in the prevailing milieu of the 1950s. Even after 60 years, Utsu distinctly remembers the strongest argument against the marriage, “My elder brother said, ‘We will get independence in a few months. Why are you marrying a foreigner?’” In those days, marriage with an outsider was unimaginable for a conservative Naga family. Secessionist forces were at their peak.
#4 But Utsu didn’t cave in. Her marriage grounded her deeper into Gandhian thought. She began work in the Ashram, helping to expand its activities—bee-keeping, khadi sales centres, oil mills, gur-making, horticulture and so on.
#5 Despite her lifelong service, Utsu’s contribution remained unnoticed and unreported until the time she was honoured with the Padma Shree.
Being a Gandhian in the Naga Hills, more so in the charged 1950s, was never without conflict. It took a woman of extraordinary courage to embrace Gandhi and work in his name.
Image Courtesy: the Hindu