Shrimati Kumudini Devi

Rani Kumudini Devi was born on 23 January 1911 in Wadepally, Warangal District. Her father was Pingle Venkataramana Reddy, who later became Deputy Prime Minister of Hyderabad under Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam VII. A self-educated man himself, he was keen that his children should be well-educated, including his daughter, which was unusual for those times. She was encouraged by her parents take part in all activities like her brothers-riding bicycles and horses, playing hockey, football and tennis to name a few.

She was married to Raja Ramdev Rao of Wanaparthy Samsthan in 1928. Her husband was very supportive and encouraged her to follow her dreams.

She entered politics and served as a councillor of the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad from 1955 to 1964. In 1962 she became the Mayor of Hyderabad-the first woman to be elected to that post and made many lasting contributions to the city. For a decade from 1962 she served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh.

In 1957, when she served as the Chairman of the Health Committee in the MCH and learnt of a leprosy home in Zaheerabad. She was inspired to do something similar in a larger scale and in 1958 she founded a Rehabilitation Home for destitute leprosy patients and called it 'Sivananda Rehabilitation Home' after her spiritual preceptor, Swami Sivananda.

Rani Kumudini Devi, by her perseverance, hard work and devotion, made this institution the centre of excellence in the field of treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients. She also inspired a number of people to join her in her endeavours for improvement of the conditions of the unfortunate victims of leprosy.

Though Sivananda was her main centre of activity, her unbounded enthusiasm and energy found other outlets as well. She was the Founder Trustee of the Purendar Memorial Charitable Trust and the Chaitanya Memorial Education Society. She was the Founder Chairperson of the Mother and Child Society, Sevasamajam Balika Nilayam and Chudamani Vruddha Ashram (Old person's home). She was Vice-chairman and trustee of the Nizamia Women's Educational Trust. She was Chairman of the Government Handicrafts Emporium (‘Lepakshi’), served on the Boards of the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) and Governing Body of the Hyderabad Public School amongst many other bodies, all of them in a purely honorary capacity. In recognition of her continuous dedicated services for the improvement in the life of the disadvantaged sections of society, including the sick, the aged and handicapped children, she was conferred many awards by several organisations. Some of these awards are:

a) Zonta International - Meritorious Award, 10.7.1975
b) The International Association of Lions Clubs - 18.10.1992
c) Yudhvir Memorial Award - 30.4.1994
d) Bharath Cultural Integration Committee - 17.7.1994
e) Giants International - 23.10.1994
f) Swaraj Jagran Manch - 2.10.1996
g) Mehdi Nawaz Jung Centenary Human Rights Award - 23.5.1997
h) Bharath Kamalakar Charitable Trust - 2.10.1997
i) Rotary Club of Secunderabad - 1999

She was active even in her later years and took a keen interest in the activities of her beloved Sivananda Rehabilitation Home. She passed away peacefully on August 6, 2009, aged 98. Her ideals and life inspire her family members and others to carry on her noble aim of bringing hope to lives.

An article on Rani Kumudini Devi from The Hindu