Sarojini Varathappan
Born(1921-09-21)21 September 1921
Madras, Madras Presidency, British India
Died17 October 2013(2013-10-17) (aged 92)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
OccupationSocial worker, indian independence movement / indian independence activist

Sarojini Varadappan (21 September 1921 − 17 October 2013) was an Indian social worker from the state of Tamil Nadu. She was the daughter of former Chief Minister of Madras, M. Bhaktavatsalam.

Early life

Sarojini was born in Madras on 21 September 1921 to Bhaktavatsalam and Gnanasundarambal.[1] Her father Bhaktavatsalam was a student at the Madras Law college when she was born.[2] She studied till ninth standard at Lady Sivaswami Girls School when her education was discontinued.[1][3] She studied Hindi through private home tuitions and completed her Visharadh.[1] As her family objected to her travelling to an exam center to write her exams, her Prathmic exams were conducted at home.[1] In her later years, she explained that her education was curtailed due to the conservativeness of her family.[1] She was associated with the Indian National Congress and the Congress Seva Dal during her early days.[1]

At an early age, she was married to her cousin Varadappan.[1] Sarojini was 21 years old when her father was arrested at the height of the Quit India Movement.[4] After two years of imprisonment, he was released in 1944.[4]

Sarojini resumed her studies after marriage and completed her Master's in political science from Mysore University through correspondence.[1] She also did her MA in Vaishnavism from Madras University. Sarojini got her PhD at the age of 80 for her thesis on "Social Service and the Swami Narayan Movement".[1] Sarojini is also an ardent devotee of the Paramacharya of Kanchi, Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi.[1][5][6] Her niece Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan was a minister in the central cabinet. She died on 17 October 2013, at the age of 92.[7]


Sarojini learnt music from Parur Sundaram Iyer and sung prayer songs at Congress meetings. She also learnt Kshetragna padams and Tamil padams from Mylapore Gowri Amma, Bharatiyar songs from E. Krishna Iyer and Hindi bhajans from Veena Visalakshi.[1]

Social activities

Sarojini was involved in social activities ever since her early days. Her mother Gnanasundarambal was associated with the Women's India Association (WIA) and Sarojini joined the organisation at an early age.[1] Sarojini also served as the President of the WIA.[1] Under her leadership, the number of branches of the organisation increased from four to 76.[1] Sarojini is also the president of the Mylapore Academy.[1]

Sarojini has been a member of the Indian Red Cross Society for over 35 years.[1] When Marri Chenna Reddy was the Governor of Tamil Nadu, she was appointed President of the society.[1] This was contrary to the usual practice of requesting the Governor's wife to preside over the society.[1] When contacted, Channa Reddy's wife had declined the request due to her lack of proficiency in Tamil and instead asked Sarojini to preside over the organisation.[1]

She served as the chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board of Government of India from 1973-1977.[8] In 1987, Government of India appointed the High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession with Sarojini Varadappan as its chairperson to review the roles, functions, status, preparation of the Nursing Personnel, nursing services and other issues related to the development of Nursing profession and to make suitable recommendation to the Government. The committee submitted its report in 1989.[9]


Sarojini was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri in 1973.[1] She was awarded the Jankidevi Bajaj award for 2004 at a function in Chennai held on 23 February 2005.[10] The same year, she received Jamnalal Bajaj Award from the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.[11] In 2009, Sarojini was awarded India's third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan for social service.[12] On 5 March 2009, she was honoured at a function in Chennai.[13] She was selected Sheriff of Madras for 1983.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Suganthy Krishnamachari (6 March 2009). "Saga of grit and success". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  2. ^ "Biography: M.Bhaktavatsalam". Kamat Research Database. Kamat's Potpourri. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
  3. ^ T. Chandra (2000). "Chennai Citizen: Sarojini Varadappan". Chennai Online. Archived from the original on 1 April 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Quit India Movement:'I do not know what kind of magic Gandhiji had but people listened to him'". Rediff News. 7 August 2002.
  5. ^ Sarojini Varadappan. "Mahaswamigal of Kanchi". Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
  6. ^ S. Muthiah (28 May 2001). "A doctorate at 80". The Hindu.
  7. ^ "Social worker Sarojini Varadappan dies aged 92 – The Times of India". The Times of India.
  8. ^ "Veteran social activist Sarojini Varadappan passes away - The Hindu". The Hindu.
  9. ^ "High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession: Conclusions and summary of recommendations". The Nursing Journal of India. 81 (5): 141–4, 161–3. 1990. PMID 2388869.
  10. ^ "Sarojini Varadappan to set up trust with award money". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 February 2005. Archived from the original on 24 February 2005.
  11. ^ "Jamnalal Bajaj Award". Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  12. ^ NDTV Correspondent (26 January 2009). "List of Padma Bhushan Awardees". NDTV. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Sarojini Varadappan felicitated". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 6 March 2009. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  14. ^ "Veteran social activist Sarojini Varadappan passes away". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 July 2017.