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- “Iron Lady” Durgabai Deshmukh was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and participated in the Salt Satyagraha. She was the founder of AMS (Andhra Mahila Sabha) institutions and other important social welfare organizations. She, with the help of two other prominent nationalists (A. K. Prakasam and Desodharaka Nageswararao), rganized the movement in Madras. She was arrested and imprisoned for her involvement in a movement that had been banned.
- In 1946, Durgabai shifted to Delhi. She became a member of the Constituent Assembly and used her potential in framing the constitution.
- She also edited a journal known as Andhra Mahila and inspired women to rebel against meaningless social constraints imposed on them. She also set up the Andhra Education Society. Further, she played a pioneering role in the setting up of the Central Social Welfare Board.
- In constituent assembly, she played very constructive role. Being a practicing lawyer, she gave important inputs on method of appointing judges in provincial high courts, independence of judiciary, process of appointing the governor, establishment of new high courts in new states.
- She had also suggested to important amendments to the draft constitution:
- To ensure that “Every judge shall be a citizen of the union of India”.
- To lower the age from 35 to 30 for holding a seat in the council of states.
- In the assembly debates, she spoke on various matters such as human trafficking, responsibility of the government towards protection of children and youth from exploitation and abandonment.
- She made a case for Hindustani (Hindi+Urdu) as a national language of India but expressed feared about the forceful campaign in favour of Hindi in South India. She favored a period of fifteen years of status quo to enable all the non-Hindi speakers to adopt and learn Hindi. She also made a case for all Hindi learners to learn at least one regional language.
- Deshmukh had won several awards including Paul G Hoffman Award, Nehru Literacy Award, UNESCO award for outstanding work in the field of literacy and the Padma Vibhushan.