Nurjahan Begum – India

Nurjahan Begum was born on June 4, 1925, as Nurun Nahar. Her father, renowned journalist and editor of the monthly Shawgat, Mohammad Nasiruddin, lived in Kolkata, while she, “Nuri”, lived with her mother, Fatema Begum, in Chalitatoli … she is named as adhunika heroe … She says: “When I came to Kolkata, my father, to the utter dismay of my mother, had my nose-pin cut off and my hair sheared into a ‘China bob’ cut!” … and: “I had a wonderful childhood,” she says. “We did everything, from singing and dancing to acting.” She even wrote, directed and acted in college plays. “But it was all within the walls of the school and college” … (full text).

The reality is these modest village enterprises give a whole new definition to small business. In fact, they’re the smallest of the small, all of them built up over a few years starting with a no-collateral microloan equivalent in takas, the Bangladeshi currency, to a lousy couple of hundred Australian dollars. Grameen-inspired, they’re many and varied, be it sewing the country’s traditionally colourful saris, selling them locally at affordable prices, or handmade mats from bamboo husks. No formal education or training, as such, is required. Point being, these women and 6 million others just like them throughout Bangladesh, have neither of these things. But, thanks to their microbusinesses, they told us, now their kids will … (full interview text).

Her photo made in 1946.


Nurjahan Begum – India

English video, translated in french: interview with Nurjahan Begum about the Grameen bank, 4.07 min, linked with/lié avec: Madame Begum, de la Grameen Bank, invitée vedette des Dialogues en Humanité, juin 18, 2008.

Making Inroads for the Others.

If ever there was a profession suited for women it most certainly is journalism. Women are by nature sensitive, compassionate and lovers of honesty – all attributes needed to be a good journalist. Which is why there are more and more women in the print and electronic media today all over the world … It was especially difficult for Bangali Muslim women of the time for whom social stricture was compounded by religious sanction … But Nurjahan Begum, the editor of the weekly, was extremely lucky on that count. Her father, renowned journalist and editor of the monthly Shawgat, Mohammad Nasiruddin, was a progressive, forward-thinking man and wanted her daughter to be the same. He also did not believe in the social customs like observing purdah. “When I came to Kolkata,” reminisces Nurjahan Begum, “my father, to the utter dismay of my mother, had my nose-pin taken off and my hair sheared into a ‘China bob’ cut!” … (full long text).

… A great cover story women working: Thanks to Star Weekend Magazine for its cover story “Leading Women to Change” published on March 11, 2005. I enjoyed reading the article and pay my tribute to the renowned journalist and social worker Nurjahan Begum. Nurjahan Begum did many things for women’s development which was not an easy task during that time. These days we do not find equally determined and courageous women working for the progress of women. In spite of religious conflict and social blindings, she has always aspired to do better for women. May we be blessed with more women like Nurjahan Begum, who acts for the betterment life of women not only politically but also socially. (Mamunur Rashid Tomal … Department of English, DU, on The Daily Star, March 25, 2005).

Grameen Shikkha.

… The magazine debuted with writer and activist Begum Sufia Kamal as editor. Nurjahan Begum, Nasiruddin’s daughter was a one of the staff writers, and went on to take the post of editor some months later. Sixty years later, Nurjahan Begum still sits at the editor’s desk at the age of 82, with a rich legacy of writing and activism to her name … (full text).

Asia-Pacific Regional Microcredit Summit 2008.

She says also: … “It was very difficult to bring out the publication at that time,” recalls Nurjahan Begum. There was the problem of block and type, of collecting ink and paper, and of transporting the staff to and from the office during the communal riots. There were not too many women writers and hardly any women photographers. “But we still managed to bring out an issue every week” … (full text).

BANGLADESH: Birth anniversary of Nurjahan Begum celebrated, June 5, 2005.

And she says: … “”Journalists have a great responsibility to the society. The way of journalism is very difficult but interesting. Once a woman receives enough support from her father or husband, it is easy for her to go on her own way” … (full text).

A Mission from Grameen.

Nurjahan Begum, editor of Begum magazine, began her career in the 1940s. Journalism, activism, social work – she has done it all, and in a time people would have trouble imagining women doing anything of the sort. To this day, she continues to help women in towns and villages find a foothold in society through her efforts to provide them with knowledge, a sense of awareness and even identities as women writers. She goes to work every morning at 8 and returns home every afternoon to her sprawling house in Puran Dhaka – her home since 1950 – and continues the work she and her father started decades ago. It is not an empire she manages now, but it has served, for well over half a century, the purpose with which it was begun – to bring Bangali, especially Bangali Muslim women, out from behind the closed walls of their homes and into the wider, changing society of which they are part … (full text).

Find her and her publications on ; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search.


Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century – A special report by Johann Hari, June 20, 2008;

The blog: In the middle of nowhere – Bangladesh, what else, March 2006 … and its post: forgotten collateral: … Unlike Maoist militants, Islamist militants can’t apparently lead the underground life without sex, wife and the resulting children. All militant captured so far were hiding along with wife and children. Anyway, I don’t know what happened to those children. Especially those very minor ones who suddenly stopped seeing both their parents. And all the militant’s women are in police custody now. Remand after remand. Then jail, “jenana” ward. Probably in a small room floor with arrested street prostitutes, criminals, homeless vagabonds etc. In Bangladesh culture, how common is it for a wife to go against husbands professional life or ideology? Even a bandit’s wife lives a life supporting justifying and tolerating husbands profession. Occassionally to protest or to question is something that they don’t have in their culture. Often they tolerate for the sake of the children. In other times, they are kept captive to imposed religious decree. I feel these women are not terrorists. They are rather victim of the circumstances and faulty ideology of their husbands. I believe our human rights groups and woman’s rights group should stand up and rehabilitate these unfortunate women and the children … (full text, March 29, 2006);

A people’s artist: The most popular painter from Punjab, Sobha Singh drew pictures of Sikh Gurus that abide in the hearts of millions. Subhash Parihar writes about his discovery of the master’s two paintings recently;

Videos on BBC;



Hindi books;

books on Bangladesh;


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