Bose, Abala (1865–1951)

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Bose, Abala (1865–1951)

Indian educator and reformer. Born Abala Das in 1865; died in 1951; daughter of Durgahohan Das (founder of the Sadharan Brahma Samaj and Brahmamoijee); attended Calcutta University; studied medicine in Madras; married physicist Jagadish Chandra Bose, in 1887.

When Abala Bose was five, her family was ostracized by their community for advocating the remarriage of widows. Five years later, in 1875, her mother died. Her father Durgahohan Das was a role model in his campaign for higher education for young women; he established the Bethune Collegiate School for Girls, where Abala and her sister Sarla received their education. The sisters went on to become two of the first women to attend Calcutta University, after which Abala studied medicine in Madras. Following her marriage to the renowned physicist Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1887, Abala Bose devoted herself to furthering educational opportunities for women in her country.

During the three decades between 1896 and 1933, Bose traveled to Europe a number of times, visiting schools and bringing the newest educational approaches and methods back to India. Through her appointment as secretary of the Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya (School for Girls), she became an educational innovator, broadening the curriculum to include self-defense and introducing new methods such as the Maria Montessori system. In 1919, she launched the Nari Shiksha Samiti to help spread education to women throughout the country. She later established the Sister Nivedita Adult Education Fund.

But Bose's concerns for the women of India went further than education, and in 1925 she established a home for widows. In 1935, she opened the Women's Industrial Co-operative Home in Calcutta, which later became a relief and rehabilitation center for women from Bangladesh. Abala Bose died in 1951, shortly after establishing the Sadhuna Ashram in Calcutta.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts