Usha Barthakur
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Usha Borthakur

"Work is worship, smile is life" was the main motto of life of Usha Boruah who became Usha Borthakur, as per norms after her marriage with advocate Late Chandranath Borthakur. She was born in 1904 in Guwahati, married at an early age of twelve in the year 1917. Child marriage for girls before attaining puberity was customary among the "Brahmins ‘of those days to which Usha belonged. The married bride had to stay in paternal home till the attainment of puberty. Usha, at the age of fourteen entered the conjugal life wearing a long veil in a religious family of kaliabor, the family was very much associated with ‘Dulal Madhav Dewalaya." Her husband was studying the BA in Calcutta, When Usha daughter of Lt Lakshmi Prasad Baruah and Lt. Lakhipriya Boruah of Uzan Bazar, Guwahati, was married of Chandra nath Borthakur.

Her matrimonial home was a huge joint family with younger brothers-in –Law, nephew-in-Laws, mother –in-law, etc along with her husband. She had given birth two sons and two daughters. Young Usha could manage all her domestic responsibilities towards her kids and in laws, yet she could establish herself as a role model for the woman of Assam for coming years. Transformation of a responsible housewife into an independent woman retaining her own identity was not an easy task in those days. One of aunt-in-law (khurisahu) encouraged her very much in this aspect.

She had to perform domestic responsibilities like milking of cows, clearing the shed, washing of clothes and utensils, spinning and sewing, cooking food including traditional delicacies, etc.)

Usha Borthakur was highly inspired by the life of "Kasturibai"-wife of Mahatma Gandhi.

There is proverb "Pretty lotus grows in dirty mud". She could prove it with sincerity, consistency, patience and hard work. Usha could barely pass primary school at the time of her marriage. Still will power and enthusiasm paved her way in social life. Usha was blessed with luck too.

In 1921 her "uncle-in-law" built a house in Amolapatty, Nagoan where Usha with her kids and younger-brother-in law lived there after. In order to make up for the financial need she again started spinning, dying, weaving and stitching of clothes for the members of her family. Her husband stayed in Guwahati during those days studying law, (LLB).

Asom Pradeshik Mahila Samitee was established in 1926 in Guwahati and in the same year Nagoan jila Samitee (District State Woman’s Committee) was also established Usha Brothakur was selected as the joint secretary of the later. This was her pioneering step in social life. Being the secretary of the samitee, Usha used to travel to far flung villages accompanying a socially active group of women in order to spread education for women and also to eradicate orthodoxical social behavior.

Usha Borthakur came into contact with the father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi in 1926 in a conference of Indian National congress at Pandu. She was also fortunate to meet Vinoba Bhave, during one of his visit to social Welfare Center at Samuguri Nagaon. This visit put a permanent mark in Usha‘s life. She was encouraged to do social work at greater scale.

In 1933, one event changed the life of Usha Borthakur. For the first time High school leaving examination Centre was took place in Nagaon Govt High School where both boys and girls were sit together. As a social norm, Usha was invited to be women invigilator for the same. She was terrified and nervous as she passed primary level at that time. But her supportive husband encouraged and she could perform the allotted duty well and decided to go for higher education.

Usha Borthakur left her study in 1915,then she became a wife and a mother. Still, she appeared and passed HSLC. At that time the girls students of MV School of Amolapatty of Nagoan failedin English in large scale. It was decided to abolish the subject by the school authority. Hearing this, Usha Borthakur requested the authority to continue the subject lest the girls would be deprived of English education in near future.The school authority requested."Mahila Samitee"to take the responsibility for the same.Being the secretary of the said organization Usha Borthakur had to undertake the charge of teaching English. However, three girls succeeded in the subject in the examination of the following year. Her sincerety and dedication had helped to develop the Nagaon Higher secondary School in its full form.

After becoming a matriculate teacher, she studied privately and qualified IA in 1938 and BA in 1942. The Girls’ School started with English class has become a full fledged high school by now. She became the Head Mistress and then went to St. Mary’s Shillong for studying BT and qualified in 1948. Further she prepared for studying MA in Assamese.In the mean time, she was selected as the candidate from Samaguri for the Assam Assembly Poll of 1952. She was then selected for successive terms from the same constituency. During 1952-56 she was in charge as Head Mistress despite the responsibility of the constituency as an MLA. Then state govt. had no objection regarding this Usha Borthakur took the opportunity to develop Nagoan Girls’ Govt. High School to the maximum possible end. After her victory in 1957 Assembly Poll, Usha Borthakur was given the responsibility of Ministry and went on requisite leave from school, but in political life her honesty became a blockade to go ahead. She had to leave ministerial post because of honesty.

However, again from 1966 to 1972 she was the honorable member of ‘Rajya Sabha’. In 1967 Usha Borthakur represented Assam in ‘World Rural women conference at Michigan, USA. From 1975 to 1978 she was the president of District Congress Committee, Nagaon.In 1977, she visited Russia as a leader of Indian Women’s team at the age of 72. After becoming the member of Rajya Sabha Usha Borthakur resigned from the post of Principal of Nagoan Girls’ Govt High School.

During 1979-89, she was honoured with the post of president, Nogaon Jila Mahila Samitee and from 1989 to 1992 Usha Borthakur worked as a principal adviser of the said committee.

Each and Every move ment of life was very important for Usha Borthakur. She contributed to the Assamese society through her writings too. She was greatly influenced by the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and opined that everybody should follow it. She had translated the book Baa and Bapu written in English by Mukul Bhai Kalarthi into Assamese language.

The literary beauty and way of expression with maximum use of the local vocabulary made the book a classic. During Gandhiji’s stay in South Africa, a Christian person stayed a night in his residence.It was the custom of the family to carry and clean one’s urinal tub’ in the morning. But the guest was unaware of that and Gandhiji compelled Kasturiba to do that. This led to disagreement between Gandhiji and Kasturiba and it crossed the limit. Gandhiji was about to drive her from home. Kasturiba, looking at the gravity of the situation, asked Gandhiji-"Being your wife I have to stay with you at any Circumstance even though I have to experience physical violence. But for God’s sake, do not forget your own self. Keep the gate shut and we promise not to create such a situation any more". Her description made the book interesting for the readers. Her second book was, Bapujir Atmakatha (Autobiography of Bapuji). This book was written for the children. Written in a very simple language this book covered Gandhiji’s life from his school day’s to the success to the freedom movement in precise way.

Besides thses, Usha Borthakur wrote life-sketche of Kasturibai as Maa Kasturiba as she was very much attacted to the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturiba. This book highlighted the love, aftection, and responsibility of a mother. Usha Borthakur believed in self-confidence and spiritualism and wanted that other should have faith in that. She translated Chaitanya Deva into Assamese too. She tried to make the women aware of the society regarding the role and responsibility of a mother. She tried to spread women education by writing columns in newspapers and magazine. Usha Borthakur unknowingly placed herself in a respectable position with her self confidence and will power. She could reflect herself as a daughter-in law, mother, teacher, social worker, politician etc. She will remain as torchbearer for the women in Assam for coming years,Usha Borthakur ended her multi-dimensional activities and released her last breath on 23 rd August, 1993.


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