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Gouri Amma, Kerala’s Trailblazing Leader No More

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Kerala: On May 11, Kalathilparambil Raman Gouri Amma, one of the longest-serving politicians in the state of Kerala passed away at the age of 102. 

On the eve of April 22, the Indian politician was admitted to PRS hospital, Thiruvananthapuram due to age-related ailments like fever, breathing trouble and urinary diseases. Even though she developed fever and breathlessness, she tested negative for covid. On April 25, her health status was critical and she was shifted to the intensive care unit. Her condition grew worse every passing day at 7AM on Tuesday, Gouri Amma died at the hospital. 

A fierce communist, and champion of women’s causes, she was widely regarded as the “Iron lady of Kerala politics.” Gouri was the first revenue minister of Kerala state.

Born on July 14, 1919 at Cherthala in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, she attended schools at Thuravoor and Cherthala and pursued her college education at Maharaja’s and at St. Teresa’s College, in Ernakulam. She also received a Law degree from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. Gouri was the first female law student coming from the Ezhava community. 

Gouri entered politics at a young age in the mid 1940’s when there were very few women in politics. In 1948, She fought her first election in Travancore marking the beginning of a long and vibrant journey in the state’s politics. She was a Marxist revolutionary, advocate, author and diplomat. 

Read: K.R. Gouri: Pathbreaking Marxist and Feminist

Rebellious and fiery, she was one of the founding members of Kerala’s Communist party (Marxist). KR Gouri or Gouri Amma as she was affectionately called had taken on the role of people’s representative, Minister in various governments, farmers’ leader, trade unionist, & women’s leader, to mention a few. In 1957, she had piloted the historical Land Reforms Bill in the first Communist government.

In February, KR Gouri stepped down from the state general secretary post of the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi, a post which she held since the formation of the party in 1994. She continued as the president of JSS.   

Gouri Amma, a fierce feminist was among the first to declare her support towards ‘women’s wall’, a human chain formed on 1 January 2019 across Kerala to uphold gender equality and protest against gender discrimination. She said, “I took part in the women’s wall as it was for a good cause”.

On her last public appearance In 2019, on the occasion of her 100th birthday in Alappuzha, Gouri Amma said “I don’t know whether I will live to celebrate another birthday. But I will raise my voice till my last breath for empowering women and will remain at the forefront of the fight against atrocities being committed against them.”

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In her autobiography ‘Atmakatha’, Gouri wrote: “I am just like any other common woman. I don’t have the diplomatic flexibility of seasoned politicians. I am very straightforward in talking my mind and working it out the same way, with no holds barred. My rough nature has created a lot of friends and foes for me. There are a lot of people who hate me and love me due to my nature.” 

 

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