Hema Bharali
Hema Bharali addressing a press conference in 2006
Born(1919-02-19)19 February 1919
Died29 April 2020(2020-04-29) (aged 101)
Resting placeMumbai
Occupation(s)Social worker
Freedom fighter
Sarvodaya leader
Years active1950–2020
AwardsPadma Shri
National Communal Harmony Award
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Award

Hema Bharali (19 February 1919 – 29 April 2020) was an Indian freedom activist, social worker, Sarvodaya leader and Gandhian, known for her contributions for the empowerment of women and efforts towards the upliftment of the socially and financially challenged sections of the society.[1] She was reported to have been active during the relief operations in the wake of the earthquake in North Lakhimpur of Assam state in 1950 and in the development activities after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.[2] The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2005, for her contributions to Indian society.[3] A year later, she received the National Communal Harmony Award from the National Foundation for Communal Harmony, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Home Affairs.[4]


Hema Bharali was born on 19 February 1919 in a family of Chutia ethnicity in the Northeast Indian state of Assam and is known to have taken to social work from an early age.[citation needed] She became active in the Indian freedom struggle and when the earthquake caused devastation in North Lakhimpur area in 1950, she took part in the relief operations.[2][5] A year later, she joined the Bhoodan movement launched by Vinoba Bhave in 1951 and became one of its leaders.[6] She was a part of the team, led by Vinoba Bhave, who were involved in the service of the victims of the war-torn area of Tezpur and stayed at Maitreyi Ashram of Bhave during the operations.[7] She has also been involved with the Padayatra in connection with the Bhoodan movement[citation needed] and was a founder member of the executive council of the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB).[8]

The Government of India included Bharali in the 2005 Republic Day Honours list for the fourth highest civilian award of the Padma Shri.[3] In 2006, she was awarded the National Communal Harmony Award by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony of the Ministry of Home Affairs.[4] Three years later, she received the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Award for National Integration from the Government of Assam.[9] Bharali, a spinster by choice,[10] endured financial and health challenges in her 90s and received financial assistance from the State Government.[11] She lived in Guwahati, in Assam.[12] As of April 2016, she has continued to make public appearances.[13]

She died on 29 April 2020, at age 101.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "PM's Speech on Presentation of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Award 2008 & 2009". Government of India. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Hema Bharali to be felicitated at AICC session". Assam Tribune. 18 December 2010. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Award for Hema Bharali". The Hindu. 1 May 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Kalam to present Communal Harmony awards". One India. 30 April 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Hema Bharali - Assam News". Assam News. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  7. ^ Threads Woven Ideals, Principles and Administration. Allied Publishers. 2010. ISBN 9788184244700. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Our History". Ask Guwahati. 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  9. ^ "PM Confers Fakruddin Ali Ahmed Award to MJ Akbar, Hema Bharali". Radiance Weekly. 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Other nonagenarian Gandhians". Ashta Bharati. October 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Financial aid to ailing Gandhian Hema Bharali". Tarun Gogoi. 19 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  12. ^ "MS. HEMA BHARALI" (PDF). Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Tributes paid to philanthropist Dr HK Das". The Assam Tribune. 7 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  14. ^ Freedom Fighter Hema Bharali Passes Away in Guwahati