Born in Dhaka on January 14, 1926, Mahasweta Devi was the daughter of Manish Ghatak, himself an accomplished writer under the pen name Jubanashwa and Dharitri Devi, a writer and a social activist. She has authored over 100 novels and 20 collections of short stories.
After graduating in Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English from the Patha-Bhavana Vishvabharati University, Santiniketan, she also completed her Master's degree in English from Calcutta University.
Devi is well known for her crusade for the rights and empowerment of the Lodha and Shabar, the tribal people from West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
A long time champion for the political, social and economic rights of the tribal communities, Mahasweta Devi has said that the reason why she writes has evolved over the years. Noted for her work focusing on tribal people, she studied them extensively so as to be able to write in a manner that could reach out to the people who read her works. She had also taken active part in Nandigram agitation and headed the movement against the earlier CPI (Marxist) government's industrial policy. She had once said, "My India still lives behind a curtain of darkness". Regarded among South Asia's most decorated authors, she was also honoured with Padmashri and Padma Vibhushan.
She won the Sahitya Akademi award (1979), the Padma Shree (1986), the Jnanpith (1997), the Magsaysay award (1997) and the Deshikottam award in 1999. Award-winning movies that were inspired by her books include Govind Nihalani's 1998 movie "Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma" and "Kalpana Lajmi Rudali". She passed away on July 28, 2016, at the age of 90, in Kolkata, West Bengal.
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