Lakshmibai: BBC Radio 4

As part of a series called India in 50 Lives, this short but informative episode focuses on Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi, who was queen of India and fought against the British. Through Sunil Khilnani’s exploration of Rani of Jhansi’s life, he also explores the history of India and the wider perception of women in India. Sunil gives us a fascinating insight into the daily routine of Rani of Jhansi as well as exploring her problems of leaving an heir. One officer in 1857 stated “the Indian mutiny produced but one man and that man was a woman”, and the queen’s most iconic image, evoking powerful Hindu goddesses, is of her last fight in battle. These ideas lead Sunil to address a pattern that is typical in India’s perception of women. Whilst the belief in feminine power is an important aspect of India’s culture, strong women tend to be presented as having extra-human powers, denying the reality of their experience. The podcast concludes that there might be a box of papers never found that explore Rani of Jhansi’s own personal experience and that equally such boxes exist throughout history documenting the untold lives of women.

Image: Nick Kenrick

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