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Ambedkar's wife passes away
May 29, 2003 20:21 IST
Savita Ambedkar, wife of Dr B R Ambedkar, passed away in Mumbai on Thursday following a prolonged illness.
The end for 94-year-old Mai, as she was fondly called, came at 5.30 am at J J Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for over one-and-a-half month, hospital sources said.
Mai, whose maiden name was Sharda Kabir, was a medical practitioner. She came in contact with Dr Ambedkar in 1947 when the latter was suffering from diabetes and blood pressure.
She married Dr Ambedkar on April 15, 1948 in New Delhi and was a close witness to his contribution in framing the Indian Constitution and the event of embracing Buddhism. She was his second wife.
Mai originally hailed from Dorla village in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri district. Her father was registrar of the Indian Medical Council.
She completed her schooling and early education in Pune and obtained her MBBS degree from Mumbai's Grant Medical college in 1937.
After working as chief medical officer at a hospital in Gujarat for a brief period, she came to Mumbai to work with Dr Malvankar, where she met Dr Ambedkar.
Following Dr Ambedkar's death, Mai came under attack from his close associates, who alleged that she was responsible for the former's demise, prompting the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to appoint a committee to look into the episode. The committee gave a clean chit to Mai.
The leaders of the Ambedkarite movement following Dr Ambedkar's demise sidelined Mai, who belonged to the upper class.
She then stayed for a while at their farmhouse in Mehrauli. Following the inception of Dalit Panthers, young Republican leaders like Ramdas Athawale and Gangadhar Gade brought her into the mainstream of the Ambedkarite movement.
But with advancing age, she withdrew from the movement.
She wrote a memoir 'Babasahebanchya Sahavasat'. She was also instrumental in the making of a feature film on Dr Ambedkar's life, which was directed by Dr Jabbar Patel.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, meanwhile, expressed grief over the death of Mai. He said Mai was the 'principal source of inspiration' for Babasaheb Ambedkar.
In a condolence message from Berlin, Vajpayee described her as 'a great social worker'.