This Doodle honours the 111th birthday of Venu Dattatreye Chitale, an Indian writer and radio host who was among the first few Indian women employed by the BBC, George Orwell’s secretary, and a significant voice in the UK during India’s freedom movement.
Chitale grew up in Mumbai and later relocated to England to pursue her education at Oxford University and University College London. She worked as a volunteer at a nearby air raid shelter in the years preceding World War II, alerting locals to impending bombings and helping with rescue and rescue missions. Her legacy as the voice of the people began with this.
Chitale soon after took on the role of George Orwell’s secretary and worked as a translator and presenter for the newly formed Indian Section of BBC Radio’s Eastern Services in 1940. Chitale carefully integrated feedback into her programmes that refuted stereotypes and misperceptions about Indians. She also often told tales that raised awareness of the difficulties faced by British mothers and children.
In addition to her work with the BBC, Chitale was an author, activist, and humanitarian. She became a member of the India League, a London-based group that promoted the nation’s independence and self-government, in 1944. She came back to Bombay three years later to assist with the treatment of refugees from the Partition of India who were housed in camps in Delhi. She also began writing novels depicting Indians’ experiences during the interwar period in 1950.
Chitale achieved a number of achievements throughout her life that showed her dedication to public service. She overcame numerous obstacles and had an unusual yet inspirational life, ultimately helping achieve India’s independence.
Happy birthday, Venu Chitale!
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