Rani Maroli: A social crusader with a legacy of ‘firsts’

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Jamshedpur: To put it a la Julius Caesar, She came. She saw. She conquered. The third of eleven siblings, Rani Maroli who first saw the smoke on February 2, 1942, belonged to an affluent business family from Lahore who later settled in Kolkata. Daughter of Sardar Mohan Singh Chaudhary and Sardarni Kulwant Kaur, Rani took to education like a duck to water and successfully emerged with glittering degrees in BA, BSc in Home Science and BA Honours in Hindi.

With Mohan Singh Chaudhary busy with his business most of the time and mother Kulwant Kaur tending to household chores, it was left to Rani to attend to most needs of her siblings including education and medical attention. These engagements fortified her with touches of medicinal knowledge and primary teaching which were to stand her in good stead in her pursuit to bring smiles on the faces of ‘Children of a Lesser God.’

Being educated gave her ample freedom to move around. She hailed from a conservative Punjabi family. Their family friends, the Marolis from Kerala, were equally conservative. In the course of time, Rani and Shekhar fell in love and got married but being an inter-caste marriage, it was not accepted by either family. Thus they bid adieu to all the comforts of living to start a life of struggle. While they were planning to settle down there, Shekhar was transferred by his company, Binny Limited to Guahati. It was in 1964 that Rani Maroli first touched down on this steel city soil when husband Shekhar was transferred here. The Maroli couple took up residence in Circuit House Area.

Blessed with an indomitable spirit to work and contribute to society that the late APR Nair provided her the opportunity to start a nursery school at the Kerala Club premises where education in Malayalam was already on. Rani went about her new-found responsibility with gusto. However she had to quit this pursuit because of her pregnancy.

At the time of childbirth, she required blood transfusion. Her blood group being B Negative and being a rare group, it required running from pillar to post for acquisition of blood for her group. Ultimately, a donor was found. This incident was another turning point in her social inclinations. Her campaign for blood donation and literacy became her social motivation.

Rani Maroli became a popular face at Tata Main Hospital and medics and nurses gradually started learning about her determined social motives. Even school teachers including headmasters and headmistresses and doctors gave priority to her requests.

Her work in basti areas made her known as Rani Didi especially at Dhatkidih, Sonari, Ulliyan, Domohani, Jugsalai and Mango where she counseled the denizens on family planning, education and health care.

Rani Maroli worked intensively in the interiors of Gamharia and Saraikela inculcating in the residents there with programs like reproductive issues. She was instrumental in opening a crèche at Murgaguttu and managed all requirements of 40 children on her own.  With the assistance of FPAI, a four storied, 35 bedded maternity specialty hospital with three state-of-the-arts OTs was established in Gamharia in the vicinity of Kerala Public School. This endeavor of Rani’s caught the attention of then Chairperson and MD of State Bank of India Arundhati Bhattacharjee who donated a fully equipped AC Ambulance to the hospital.

The ‘Lone Ranger’ social activist trained her attention to the much maligned LGBTQ community who considered her as a messiah amidst them. She counseled them diligently and guided them gradually towards the mainstream. Providing them with books and basic education she was able to get employment for many of them in industrial units at Adityapur. She also requested industrialist Dilip Goyal to donate two e-autorickshaws for the community.

She was honoured with many recognitions and awards from Indian Red Cross Society, Inner Wheel Club, Lions Club, Punjab Association, Arya Samaj, CGPC, IMA, Jamshedpur Bar Association (Commercial Taxes), Tata Steel Community Services to name a few.

Rani Maroli suddenly left for her heavenly abode on April 21, 2018, leaving behind a legacy of single handed, motivated and dedicated service to a mankind whose smiles were long overdue.

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