Aruna Asaf Ali

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The Inspirational Story of "Aruna Asaf Ali"

In this episode of, “Famous Indian Personalities”, let us hear about Aruna Asaf Ali is popularly known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ was one of the leading female figures of India’s freedom movement.

Birth: Aruna Asaf Ali was born on 16 July 1909 in Kalka, Punjab (now in Haryana, India) into a Bengali Brahmo family. 

Childhood: As a child, Aruna was schooled in Lahore and Nainital.

Adult Life: Later in life, she started teaching in Kolkata and got married to Asif Ali, in 1928. Asif Ali was a senior member of the Indian National Congress.


Salt Satyagraha: Aruna Asaf Ali became a member of the Indian National Congress after marrying Asaf Ali and was sent to prison for processing in the Salt Satyagraha movement. In 1931, during the second round table conference, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact came into being with many conditions. One of them was that every prisoner of Salt Satyagraha must be released. Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless Aruna Asif Ali was also released. After massive protests by the public and the intervention of  Mahatma Gandhi, she was released.

The Flag Hoist: In 1932, she was again sent to Tihar jail first and then moved to Ambala but her involvement in the Independence movement was active. On 8 August 1942, the All India Congress Committee passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session.

The government responded by arresting the major leaders and all members of the Congress Working Committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success. Young Aruna Asaf Ali commencement the movement on 9th August and hoisted the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan. She was named Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery.


Mayor of Delhi: An arrest warrant was issued in her name but she went underground. The government announced a reward of 5,000 rupees for her capture. and seized all her properties. In the meanwhile, Aruna Asif also edited Inquilab, a monthly magazine of the Congress Party. However, she came out of hiding after Mahatma Gandhi sent her a hand-written note. In 1947 India got her independence and in 1948, Aruna Asif Ali joined to socialist party and got involved in women upliftment efforts. In 1958, she was elected the first woman Mayor of Delhi.

Legacy: Aruna Asaf Ali was awarded International Lenin Peace Prize in 1964, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1991, India’s second-highest civilian honor in 1992, and finally the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997. In 1998, a road named Aruna Asaf Ali Marg in New Delhi was named in her honor.

Stay tuned and listen to more episodes of our podcast “Famous Indian Personalities” where we keep bringing stories from the lives of the greatest personalities of India. And don’t forget to check out our other podcasts for kids on free Chimes Radio mobile apps – India’s largest kids podcast network. Available on Google and Apple App stores.

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