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Mahasweta Devi: 90-Year-Old Legendary Writer and Social Activist Dies in Kolkata

  • Mahasweta Devi is reported to have been suffering from a blood infection, kidney failure, and she had also suffered a heart attack on July 23
  • She is famous for writing about the tribal communities in states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh and their struggles and oppression
  • The Sahitya Akademi in 1979, the Padmashree Award in 1986, and the Jnanpith award in 1997 are a few of the many awards she has received

Mahasweta Devi, the eminent writer and social media activist, died at the age of 90 on Thursday, July 28, at 3:16pm in Kolkata. She is reported to have been suffering from a blood infection and kidney failure. Her health had continued to worsen from the medical problems and she had also suffered a heart attack on the July 23.

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She was undergoing treatment at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata, since past two months. Doctors told media sources that she had been receiving aid for illnesses that occur commonly with ageing,  reported PTI.

Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee mourned her death and said this is the loss of a great writer for the country. Banerjee Tweeted, “India has lost a great writer. Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide. Mahashweta Di, rest in peace.”

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Mahasweta Devi was famous for researching and writing about the tribal communities in states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Her particular focus is on the life of these communities by exploring the struggles faced by the people. She is also known to place emphasis on Dalits and women.

She started off as a teacher at the female-focussed institution, Bijoygarh College, in 1964. She also used, this time, to work as a journalist. To explore her writing, she also worked as a creative writer.

Rudali, a book by Mahasweta Devi. Image source: www.deyspublishing.com
Rudali, a book by Mahasweta Devi. Image source: www.deyspublishing.com

A social activist, she devoted a majority of her time to work with the tribal communities in the same states she wrote about. She narrates instances from such work into her fiction and mentions themes of oppression, especially by landlords and government officials towards the tribes and other marginalised communities.

For her exceptional literary work, she was awarded various awards- The Sahitya Akademi in 1979, the Padmashree Award in 1986, and the Jnanpith award in 1997 are just a few of the many. She has published over 100 novels, and at least 20 collections of short stories, all in the last 40 years.

Though most of her works are written in her native language Bengali, many of her works have also been translated into Indian and foreign languages. Two of her most famous works, Rudaali and Hajar Churashir Ma, have also been made into films that have been critically acclaimed, both in India and internationally. These achievements have had a global impact and have earned her a rightful international reputation.

Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in a middle-class family in Dhaka, now Bangladesh. She is a distinguished Indian-Bengali writer and had attended the renowned Shantiniketan, established by Rabindranath Tagore. She later went on to graduate from the University of Calcutta and attained an MA in English from the Visva Bharti University later.

-by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Find her on Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

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