Anuradha Bhosale (Avani) – StarsUnfolded

Anuradha Bhosale

Birth name Agatha Amolik [1]Loksatta
Other Name Known as ‘Bandit Queen of India’s Social Movement,’ compared to Phoolan Devi (Indian bandit-turned-politician) [2]Gandhi for Children – Web Archive
Profession Social Activist
Famous For Being the founder and director of Avani, a non-government organization working for children and women rights
Physical Stats & More
Eye Colour Black
Hair Colour Black
Personal Life
Date of Birth 20 December 1971 (Monday)
Age (as of 2020) 49 Years
Birthplace Shrirampur, Maharashtra
Zodiac sign Sagittarius
Nationality Indian
Hometown Bhokar, Ahmednagar
School St Teresa Girl’s Primary School, Harigaon, Maharashtra
College/University College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai (1991)
Educational Qualification Master of Social Work [3]The Weekend Leader
Religion Catholic [4]Gandhi Tour
Relationships & More
Marital Status Divorced
Marriage Date Year 1996
Children Son– Granth
Daughter– Kadambari
Parents Father– Name not known (Pre-Primary School Teacher)
Mother– Name not known (Domestic Worker)
Siblings She has eleven siblings.

Anuradha Bhosale

Some Lesser Known Facts About Anuradha Bhosale

  • Anuradha Bhosale is an Indian social activist who is known for being the founder and director of the non-government organization based in Kolapur, Maharashtra called ‘Avani’, which is working for women & children rights, especially child labourers to provide them with education, health facilities, shelter, and better means of livelihood.
  • She was born into a very poor family as her father (a pre-primary teacher) earned a salary of Rs. 150 and her mother (a domestic worker) earned Rs. 10 only. Being the eleventh out of twelve children of her parents, she was forced into child labour at the age of six. She used to serve four households, where she did manual work of cleaning the utensils, clothes, and houses. Since she studied along with earning, she sometimes ended up working in an empty stomach. However, some of her employers showed her sympathy and let her study and also gave her food.
  • After studying till class 5 at St Teresa Girl’s Primary School, Anuradha shifted to a girl’s hostel at Harigaon, Ahmednagar, run by missionaries because her family had to move back to their hometown in Bhokar, Ahmednagar due to their financial condition. She completed her schooling from Shrirampur.
  • During her school days, her school fee was Rs. 25, and because her family couldn’t pay for her education, she received help from her teachers who waived her fee. She said,

    Whatever I could give was accepted by the institution.”

  • She also received help from a priest (with whom she had worked earlier) of a church in regards to her schooling. The priest also paid her college fees for two months until her college offered to support her financially. Some of her college teachers also gave her financial help for her study tours.
  • Anuradha almost faced rejection by the selector of the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, when they learned that she did not know English. The selectors thought that the language barrier might become a problem in learning as she knew only Marathi and Hindi. According to Anuradha,

    I convinced them that I will learn the language and it will not cause a problem. It was a Friday. The selectors asked for some time to consider the case and by Monday, I was selected.”

  • During her college days, she began working in projects involving migrant children (who crushed rocks used in paving roads in Kolhapur) and helped families of such children to known the principles of micro-finance. She also assisted in setting up self-help groups for women and worked with organizations such as Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, Rankala Bachao, and Mahila Sangharsh.
  • According to her, her family belonged to the caste that came lowest in the hierarchy. When her grandfather (who was born a Hindu) was fed up of the discrimination (denial of entry to temples, segregation from the main village, denial of education, faced slavery, no right to a job), he converted to Catholicism. According to Anuradha, if any person at that time converted, they could be free from the hierarchy of the Indian society, and taboos would not be imposed on them). Talking about it, Anuradha said,

    The Christian missionaries treated these formerly outcaste people with sympathy and human warmth.  I grew up as a Catholic and had no inferiority complex.  The Catholic mission in my area had established schools and hostels where I could be educated without difficulty and I did not face discrimination. Catholicism with its emphasis on love and compassion for your fellow beings and the doctrine of serving humanity being equivalent to serving God must have laid the foundation of a service – oriented attitude in me.”

  • In 1992, she started her career by working with the Water Supply Department of Jalgaon, Maharashtra.
  • In 1993, she worked for the Social Work Department of the Bajaj Auto Company in Pune, as a project holder. While working there, she managed the sanitation and environmental projects across 124 villages in western Maharastra, as a part of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  • After getting married to a lower caste man in 1996, she shifted to her in-laws in Kolapur, where her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law started harassing her and her husband refused to defend her. Later, Anuradha found out about her husband’s affair with another woman. After facing domestic violence for a long time, Anuradha and her two children were thrown out of the house by her husband.
  • After been thrown out of her husband’s house, she received help from her neighbours and few friends who offered her a place to stay for a few months. Later, Arun Chavan (Chairman of Avani), Comrade Govind Pansare (former Communist leader of Kolhapur who fought legal battles for the underprivileged), and Dr Sunil Kumar Lawate (a social worker in Kolhapur) also offered her help until she was able to stand back on her feet.
  • In 1996, she joined the non-government organization ‘Verala Development Society’ (VDS), which is working towards providing houses to homeless, divorced, and widowed women.
    Logo of Verala Development Society

    Logo of Verala Development Society

  • In 1997, she joined as the sole employee of Avani, a project of VDS to conduct surveys of migrant children in Kolhapur. The word Avani is an abbreviation of three Marathi letters in which ‘A’ denotes ‘Ann’ (meaning food), ‘Va’ denotes ‘Vastra (meaning clothes), and ‘Ni’ represents ‘Niwara’ (meaning Shelter). She was the first person to conduct a survey like that. From 1997 to 2002, she operated Avani without an office or staff to assist.
    Logo of Avani

    Logo of Avani

  • As a part of Avani, she introduced the migrant families to microfinance and helped in the organization of the self-help groups for the women. This was followed by the establishment of 36 schools with 5o migrant children each. Anuradha with Avani helps with the rescue of child labourers (exploited, abandoned, and poor) in Kolapur district and helps them with their education, health, food, and hygiene. Avani also works for recent child trafficking and female infanticide.
  • When she saw that her plan to educate migrant children was not enough for their development, she started the Women and Child Rights Campaign (WCRC) through which she helped with the education, empowerment, and unification of disadvantaged women (widowed, divorced, and abandoned) to counter the root cause of child labour. She became successful in her efforts when women realized their legal rights, and as many as 3,741 women received Government entitlements in the form of cash, saving the lives of many child labourers in 2010. As of 202o, WCRC has a substantial presence in 15 rural villages in and around Kolhapur.
  • Anuradha with Avani helped convince migrant workers for letting their children go back to their hometowns to get proper education, and the ones who couldn’t, Anuradha helped those children study in the schools run by Avani or brickyard schools.
    Anuradha Bhosle with Migrant Children at a Brickyard

    Anuradha Bhosle with Migrant Children at a Brickyard

  • According to Anuradha, when she first went to brickyards to convince owners of the brickyards to spare children from labour, the powerful owners sent goons to threaten and beat her. However, Anuradha stood unshaken and finally, owners started supporting her.
  • In 2002, after the Right to Education Bill (which described the importance of free and compulsory education for all Indian children between 6 to 14 years of ages) was drafted, Avani led by Anuradha advocated for the acceptance of the bill to make it into law. In April 2010, ‘The Right to Education Act’ was finally passed.
  • In 2005, Anuradha helped in the creation of Avani Children’s Home or daycare, after a group of migrant labourers requested Anuradha to help in the construction of special residential homes for migrant children. The daycare was initially run out of a hut made from mud and cow dung, lacking electricity or running water.
  • Anuradha has appeared in the news talk shows such as News18 Lokmat’s ‘Great Bhet’ (2014) and Doordarshan’s ‘Stree Shakti’ (2015).
    Anuradha Bhosle in Stree Shakti (2015)

    Anuradha Bhosle in Stree Shakti (2015)

  • In 2016, she was honoured with the ‘Women Have Wings Award,’ a global award honouring courageous women making a change in society.
  • Her organization, Avani, is a Global Fund for Children partner. Avani also won Juliette Gimon Courage Award in 2020.
  • In 2020, Anuradha and Nagraj Manjule made an appearance in the Karamveer Special of the game reality show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati,’ hosted by Amitabh Bachchan.
    Anuradha Bhosle in Kaun Banega Crorepati

    Anuradha Bhosle in Kaun Banega Crorepati

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