THE LIVES OF FREDA: THE BLOG
This was the journal in which Freda Bedi's (her maiden name was Houlston) first published writing about India appeared. United India was a curious, nationalist-minded, vaguely left-wing, journal published by an oddball in the Indian diaspora in the UK, G.S. Dara. Partly as a marketing ploy, I suspect, the issue for March 1932 was dubbed 'the Oxford number' and consisted of very short articles by more than twenty Oxford students. In June he followed up with a 'Cambridge number' of the journal.
Along with Freda, one of her close friends, Olive Shapley contributed. Among Indian students, Freda's husband-to-be B.P.L. Bedi wrote for the special number, as did Sajjad Zaheer and Humayun Kabir. Michael Foot and Tony Greenwood later rose to prominence in Labour governments; Frank Meyer and Dick Freeman were at this time the leading student communists at Oxford.
Freda's own contribution was insubstantial - but shows a focus on women, an element of sympathy for Bina Das, a nationalist would-be assassin, and familiarity with the Tribune, the main nationalist daily in Lahore.
Olive Shapley wrote a much more militant piece - let's remember this was still the Class-against-Class period of international communism which concludes:
If the woman's movement in India is to be used to prop up the capitalist system for a few more years before its inevitable collapse, then purdah and child-marriage would be lesser evils. The women of Russia did not achieve their emancipation through the media of welfare centres, baby clinics, and women's institutes, and it is greatly to be hoped that the women of India will not be deceived by these sops to their awakening consciousness.
The Lives of Freda
- a blog about my biography of Freda Bedi