Staff Reporter

She fought for the cause of atheism, humanism, social equality and inter-caste marriages

VIJAYAWADA: Saraswathi Gora, freedom fighter and wife of well-known atheist and freedom fighter Goparaju Ramachandra Rao (Gora), died of lung infection here in the early hours of Saturday. She suffered a heart attack only a few weeks ago.

She was 94 and is survived by nine children. Her daughter Chennupati Vidya is a former MP from the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency, while one of the sons Samaram, a physician, authored several books on health awareness and sex education. In deference to her wishes, her eyes were donated to the Swetcha Gora Eye Bank.

Ms. Saraswathi fought for the cause of atheism, humanism, social equality and inter-caste marriages. She was imprisoned during the Quit India movement and also in 1953 for participating in the Karivena Eenam Satyagraha for land reforms in Kurnool. She received the `Jamnalal Bajaj National Award 1999' for her contribution to women welfare and rural development.

The women's wing of the Indian Merchants' Chamber bestowed on her the `Janki Devi Bajaj National Award'. She also received the `G.D. Birla International Award for Humanism' for 2000 and the Karnataka Government's first `Basava National Award 2000' for her contribution to social change.

Ms. Saraswathi headed the city-based Atheist Centre since her husband's death in 1975.

She worked against untouchability and the caste system and championed secularism, inter-dining and inter-religion marriages.

She expanded the activities of the Atheist Centre, where an international conference on `Social progress and women' was held in 1992, coinciding with her 80th birth anniversary. As co-founder of Vasavya Mahila Mandali, she took up a number of programmes and strove for the empowerment of women.