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Muttu Lakshmi Reddy Biography

MuttuLakshmi Reddy Biography

ముత్తులక్ష్మీరెడ్డి జీవిత చరిత్ర

Muthulakshmi Reddy (also spelled Reddi in some British Indian sources; 30 July 1886 – 22 July 1968) was an Indian medical practitioner, social reformer and Padma Bhushan award recipient.

Muthulakshmi Reddy was appointed to the Madras Legislative Council in 1926. This nomination marked the beginning of her lifelong effort to "correct the balance for women by removing social abuses and working for equality in moral standards. She was a women's activist and social reformer.

She had a number of firsts to her name: the first female student to be admitted into a men's college, the first woman House Surgeon in the Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital, the first woman Legislator in British India, the first Chairperson of the State Social Welfare Advisory Board, the first woman Deputy President of the Legislative Council, and the first Alderwoman of the Madras Corporation Avvai Home.

Reddy was born in the princely state of Pudukkottai of Tamil Nadu. In spite of various constraints faced by girls in India of her time, she completed her higher education and was admitted into the medical profession. In 1907, she joined the Madras Medical College, where she achieved a brilliant academic record. With several gold medals and prizes to her credit, Reddy graduated in 1912 to become one of the first female doctors in India. Soon after, she came under the influence of Annie Besant, and then of Mahatma Gandhi.

She was born to a Tamil Family. Her father was S. Narayanaswami Iyer, the Principal of Maharaja's College. Her mother was Chandrammal, a Devadasi. Her father was ostracised from his family because of his marriage to a Devadasi. She developed a close relationship with the maternal side of her family, and this closeness made her very perceptive of the Devadasi community and their issues. Narayanaswami Iyer broke the tradition and sent Muthulakshmi to school. Her enthusiasm for learning was so great that Muthulakshmi's teachers decided to instruct her in subjects beyond those approved by her father. At the onset of puberty, she was obliged to leave school, but tutoring continued at home. Chandrammal wanted to search for a bridegroom but Muthulakshmi had different aspirations. She expressed a need to be different from the common lot. She was against the subordination of women to men and rebelled whenever she heard people say that only boys needed education.

When Reddy passed the Matriculation exam she applied for admission to Maharaja's College but her application was not welcomed by the Principal or the parents of other students. Her gender was a factor as was her background. The Principal thought she might "demoralize" the male students. The somewhat enlightened Maharaja of Pudukottai ignored these objections, admitted her to the college, and gave her a scholarship. Her father suggested that she can become a school teacher but she had higher aspirations. She entered Madras Medical College, completed her studies in 1912, and became House Surgeon in the Government Hospital for Women and Children in Chennai.

She later married Sundara Reddy with the proviso that he promised to "always respect me as an equal and never cross my wishes." In 1914, when she was twenty-eight years of age, they married in accordance with the 1872 Native Marriage Act. After the marriage of Muthulakshmi with Sundara Reddy she got her surname Reddy. Famous Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan is the son of Muthulakshmi Reddy's brother Ramasamy.

Her name was included in the first national flag hoisted on Red Fort in 1947.



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