Sunday, 29 April 2018

Annie Mascarene, first MP from Kerala and a spirited freedom fighter


Former MP and state Minister, Kerala, Annie Mascarene. Veethi
Ms. Mascarene, apart from being a freedom fighter, was Minister of Public Health in the Travancore-Cochin State, member of the Constituent Assembly of India, Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram, and Secretary of the Travancore State Congress.
 By dint of hard work, dedication and commitments, Annie Mascarene, as a courageous woman chose a political path that was in those days, dominated by men and proved beyond doubt her capability and left a mark as a spirited woman freedom fighter and politician. She was in the forefront of historical freedom struggle in Travancore, despite facing several hurdles and hardship.

Annie Mascarene (6 June 1902 - 19 July 1963) was a well-known  Indian freedom fighter from Kerala  and an important member of the Indian National Congress.  She  was a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram and she served as Secretary of the Travancore State Congress. Earlier, she was  a member of Travancore State Assembly in1948.

Hailing from a well- educated  "Latin catholic" 
family in the then Travancore princely  state 
she had her education  at Maharaja's College, Thiruvananthapuram  where she was qualified for a double MA in History and Economics in 1925. Her   father Gabriel Mascarene was a government official of the Travancore State. She took a law degree from Maharaja's  College of Arts and Law, Thiruvanthapuram   after her teaching stint  in Ceylon.

Freedom fighter and former minister of Kerala Wikipedia
Anne Mascarene  grew up at a time when India was in the middle of freedom struggle  and the Indian leaders across India were sick and tired of British misrule  and broken promises. In 1919, the worst Jalianwalla bagh massacre  under the direction of Gen. Dyer and the poor attitude of the Crown  made the Indian furious. Mascarene, being a woman of independent thinking, decided to do something worthwhile toward the cause of Indian freedom instead of playing the role of an ordinary women. She became one of the very few women from Kerala and  the first woman to join the Travancore State Congress. Soon  she became the first woman to be part of the Travancore State Congress Working Committee.  Along with Akkamma Cherian, Pattom Thanu Pillai (after independence he became CM of Kerala 1960-62) and other prominent leaders, she  worked hard for India's freedom from the British  and integration of the princely state with the Indian nation. In  Travancore State  her active political involvement, ideology and speeches attracted the attention of the Princely state authorities and she was arrested and sent to jail for various periods  from 1939—47.
Four year later  after India's freedom in 1947, general In the 1951 General Election to Delhi Parliament (Lok Sabha) came up.  Mascarene  stood for the Lok Sabha Seat  as an independent candidate and led her campaign trail successfully, thus winning the trust of the people in her constituency. She became the first woman elected to the First Lok Sabha as an independent candidate from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. She also took the credit of being  the first woman MP from Kerala State and one of only 10 elected to Parliament in those elections.
Her interest in politics,  the experience she gained from well-known  leaders and her involvement in India's independence movements, etc., made her become an efficient politician who could courageously fight for the needs of her people at Delhi. Further,  her experience as a member of the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly from 1948—52 and  her brief stint as  Minister in Charge of Health and Power in the Parur T K Narayana Pillai Ministry during 1949-1950 stood her in good stead. 
Besides, at the national level, she became one of  the members of the Constituent Assembly of India and served on its select committee that looked into the Hindu Code Bill, a covetous post she did well. In the second General Elections of 1957, unfortunately she could not do well for various reasons. The death of her mentor erstwhile colleague in the Travancore Congress, Pattom Thanu Pillai in the early  1960s
was a shock for her.  Annie Mascarene died in 
1963 and her grave lies at the Pattoor cemetery in Thiruvananthapuram.  In every field she worked during her political career, she proved her skills and political acumen and  never had she compromised on her ideology and principles.  In the matter of stae integration, she  refused to be cowed down by  the then Diwan Sir C.P. Ramaswami Ayiyar, a great administrator and legal luminary. Sir C.P.  for unknown reasons, was against Kerala joining the Indian Union, hence Ms. Mascarene  earned the ire of  Sir C.P.
Her independent political thinking is worthy of mention. Mascarene was quite clear bout her view on center state relationship. She was of the opinion that a young democracy like India will need a strong Centre and hoped that “when the nation has attained full stature and we can stand on our own legs, we can amend the Constitution and distribute powers equally. This is the reason why wanted her princely state become a part of Independent India  and focused her  views on the rights of provinces versus the necessity for centralization of powers. For a successful democracy centralisation of power was  a must. And, at the same time  too much centralisation could alter the very nature of democratic institutions. She also pointed out that  provincial elections, and legislatures need to maintain their independence, and the Centre cannot assume the role of “custodian of justice”

According to Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the woman leader from Travancore was one who had become the pride of the whole country.

Tit-bits:
Annie Mascarene's bronze statue, Nagappa Sculptors

Annie Mascarene's  full size bronze statue, sculpted by Kishore Nagappa of Chennai, was approved by the State government and the city Corporation. It was made at a cost of Rs.20 lakh, half of which was provided by the State government. It was unveiled by  Vice-President Hamid Ansari  on 11 September 2013 near Government Women’s College at Vazhuthacaud in the presence of state Ministers and other VIPs.
 http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/ansari-to-unveil-annie-mascarene-statue/article5109010.ece
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Mascarene