Born on 14th January 1926 Mahasweta Devi was an Indian Bengali fiction writer and social activist. She worked for the rights and empowerment of the tribal people (Lodha and Shabar) of West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states of India.
Hajar Churashir Maa, Rudali, and Aranyer Adhikar made her more popular. She was honoured with various literary awards such as the Sahitya Akademi Award (in Bengali), Jnanpith Award and Ramon Magsaysay Award along with India’s civilian awards Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan.
Over 100 novels and around 20 collections of short stories were primarily written in Bengali but often translated to other languages. Her first novel, titled Jhansir Rani, based on a biography of Rani of Jhansi was published in 1956. She toured the Jhansi region to record information from the people and folk songs for the novel.
In 1964, Devi began teaching at Jadavpur, Kolkata-32 . She studied the Lodhas and Shabars, the tribal communities of West Bengal, women and dalits.
Postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has translated Devi’s short stories into English and published three books Imaginary Maps (1995, Routledge), Old Woman (1997, Seagull), The Breast Stories (1997, Seagull).
On 23 July 2016, Devi suffered a major heart attack and was admitted to Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata. She died of multiple organ failure on 28 July 2016, aged 90. She also suffered from diabetes, septicemia and urinary infection.