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JANKIDEVI BAJAJ (1893-1979)
The saga of Jankidevi Bajaj's life is a story of immense entrepreneurship. Who else but a true entrepreneur would have thrown away a world of luxury and picked up the threads of reform to weave a lasting pattern on India's rural tapestry?
Jankideviji was born into a wealthy Vaishnav Marwari family of Jaora (Madhya Pradesh). After a few years of primary education, she married into the affluent family of Bachhraj Bajaj at the tender age of eight. Her marriage to Jamnalal Bajaj in the year 1902 brought her to Wardha (Maharashtra).
At the age of 28 years, she readily relinquished her ornaments, gave up the 'purdah'. She offered her foreign garments in the burning pyre to celebrate the cause of Khadi and Swadeshi. But more was to come...the fearless entrepreneur converted the Bajaj home at Wardha into a throbbing centre of Khadi movement and other activities surrounding freedom struggle.
For the first time in India, on 17th July 1928, the dalits were allowed inside the temple, when she agreed with her husband to open the doors of the family Lakshminarayan temple at Wardha to all, as a protest against untouchability.
She gave a boost to the cause of women's education and empowerment and even went to jail in her quest for India's freedom. She worked endlessly with Vinobaji for the Bhoodan Movement and Gram Seva. To further the cause of Bhoodan it was her innovative and pragmatic thinking which prompted her to enunciate Koopdan-a movement to collect donation to make wells. She encouraged Goseva (Cow Protection) and was the President of Akhil Bharat Goseva Sangh for many years.
Jankideviji was known to be resolute yet compassionate, charitable yet frugal. She was prosperous but sacrifice came
easy to her. A true entrepreneur,she was like a little light burning i bright next to the illuminaries
The prestigious honour of 'Padma
Vibhushan' was conferred upon Smt. Jankidevi Bajaj in the year 1956.