K R Gouri Amma lived more than a century, but she has left behind a legacy for today’s women to learn and follow.
K R Gouri Amma was the seventh daughter of Arumuriparambil Parvathiamma of Cheruparambil and Kalathilparambil Raman. She did her schooling and college at Maharaja’s and St Teresa’s College, both in Ernakulum, Kerala. She had also received a law degree from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.
She entered the vibrant world of politics at a time when women were hardly seen in politics. But despite all odds, she paved a way for herself to be a first in many things. She started her political life through various trade unions and peasant movements, due to which she was jailed on many occasions. She badly suffered from police brutality for being part of a banned party in her younger days, to which she had said, “If lathis had the power to impregnate women, I would have conceived several times’. She was then elected to the Travancore Council of Legislative Assembly with an overwhelming majority in 1952 and 1954.
From there on, there was no stopping this firebrand. She became the first revenue minister of Kerala in 1957. Gouri Amma served as the Minister of Revenue, Excise and Devaswom from 1957 to 1959. In the 1967 elections, K R Gouri Amma became the Minister for Revenue, Sales tax, Civil supplies, Social welfare and Law. She then went on to become the Minister of Agriculture, Social welfare, Industries, Vigilance and Administration of justice from 1980 to 1981 and then again Minister of Industries and social welfare, Vigilance and Administration of justice from 1987 to 1991.
She was ousted from the Communist party (Left Democratic Front) in 1994 due to some differences with the party. Following this, she established a new political group named Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy. JSS then joined the United Democratic Front. She was the Minister of Agriculture from 2001 to 2004 and then again the Minister of Agriculture, Soil Conservation, Soil Survey, Warehousing Corporation, Dairy Development, Milk Co-operatives, Agricultural University, Animal Husbandry and Coir for 2004 to 2006.
Her autobiography titled ‘Atmakatha’ won the 2011 Kerala Sahitya Academy Award. Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had attended her 100th birthday celebration in 2019 and said, “There’s no one in Kerala with the kind of political experience that Gouri Amma has. Her life is extraordinary and has no comparisons. Her life is intertwined with the social life of modern Kerala.” He described her as a leader with an incomparable courage, sacrificing mentality and attitude to service.
K R Gouri Amma passed away in the early hours of 11th May 2021 leaving behind a century of a life dedicated to others and fighting for what she believed in. Humble Pranam to the great leader! May her soul rest in eternal peace!