Indira Miri - a born educationist
It was in the early part of 1964 when I had the opportunity to see Indira Miri
at a meeting held at Jorhat Govt. BT College
in connection with the preparation for ensuing road safety week to be held at Jorhat
for the first time.
...On my retirement from service when I settled down at Guwahati as the editor of The Rhino, the mouthpiece of Kaziranga Wildlife Society, I came in close contact with Indira Miri who resided at Silpukhuri area.Indira Miri
was born in 1910 and her
father was Late Raisaheb Sonadhar Senapati who hailed from Arjunguri village, a historical place of Sivasagar district in 1867.He started his career at Shillong Secretariat in the early part of 1890 where there were only a handful of Assamese working in the midst of overwhelming number of Bengalis hailing from Sylhet district.
Although it was a herculean task for an Assamese to survive there in the midst of hostile atmosphere, Sonadhar Senapati succeeded to eke out a living by virtue of his
intelligence and hard work.
Sonadhar Senapati was very much interested to educate his
children both male and female.Since in those days there were no Assamese school at Shillong Indira Miri
was taught at the early age of her
schooling at a Bengali school.
Sonadhar Senapati like Raibahadur Gunabhiram Baruah had keen interest in female education and as such took his
daughter to Kolkata in her
early age and got her
admitted the Class VI at Bethun School
where there was a boarding house.Gunabhiram Baruah's daughter Swarnalata too was admitted in Bethun School
in the early part of 80's.Mention may be made that Sudhalata Duwarah and Sukhalata Duwarah the first lady Assamese graduates had their schooling in Bethun School
of Kolkata.Indira Miri was a meritorious student and successfully graduated from the Scottish Church College in 1932.
In the same year late Professor Birinchi Kumar Baruah a superably brilliant student passed BA from the Presidency College of Kolkata
.While in Kolkata Indira Miri had the proud opportunity to come into contact with some all India figures like Rabindra Nath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Rai etc.Thus her
mental horizon was broadened.After graduation, Indira Miri
returned to Assam.Sonadhar Senapati, a very broadminded man, arranged her
daughter's marriage with young Mohi Chandra Miri of Mising community in 1932.
After the completion of training Mohi Chandra was posted at Guwahati when his
marriage with Indira
was solemonised following all Hindu rituals.Indira Miri
told me once that the whole world was against this inter caste marriage.Mohi Chandra Miri was a very honest and brilliant forest officer.When Mohi Miri was posted at Bagari Range to look after Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary he
moved heaven and earth to protect the flora and fauna including the famous one horned Asiatic rhinos.EP Gee rightly hailed him, "the man who put Kaziranga
in the world map".Mohi Miri worked without caring for his
health and personal comfort.He
last on July 29, 1939 due to black water fever.
After the death of her
shifted herself along with her
children to the loving care of her
illustrious father who died in 1948.After the death of her
husband Indira Miri
obtained BT from the Calcutta University
and then she
proceeded the 1945 to UK to study B.Ed. in the Edinburg University
also obtained a certificate of short course of teacher's training in the Oxford University
and then she
returned to India in 1947.It is to be mentioned here that in 1937 Indira Miri
presided over the Bane Kelang session at Mahuramukh in Golaghat subdivision.Her
thirst for knowledge was in satiable.Before she
proceeded to U.K. she
undertook Montessori course for one year at Ahmedabad under Madam Montessori herself .In October 1947 Indira Miri joined the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) administration as Education Officer.
visited Pasighat and Sadiya to get some first hand idea about her
work.Since then she
new assignment with a missionary zeal.With approval she
HQ to Sadiya forgoing all the comforts of Shillong
started a teachers' Training Centre at Sadiya where teachers were fired of hard work and dedication.She
was also instrumental in making Assamese the lingua franca since Assamese was widely prevelant in all parts of NEFA
extensively visited even the most interior villages either on foot or on elephants.Thus when she left NEFA in 1957, 1000 schools grew up throughout NEFA.
When in 1950 the great earthquake devastated some parts of NEFA
including Sadiya Indira Miri headed the relief work even in the teeth of tremendous odds.The Governors under whom she
worked were Sir Akbar Hyderi, Sri Prakash and Jairamdas Daulatram,.The Governors' Advisers she worked with were GD Walker, a brilliant British officer, Rustomji, KL Mehta and PN Luthra.Indira Miri
could pull on well with all these advisers.She left NEFA in 1957 and joined Jorhat BT College as its new Principal.She
built up that infant college.After her
retirement as Principal of the SCERT
in 1968 at Jorhat she
came back to Guwahati and settled down in her
own ancestral house in Silpukhuri area.She
also did two terms as member of the Executive Body of the Gauhati University
Till the end of her
was loved and respected by the Arunachali
people with whom she
came into contact.They made it a point to visit her
house something like a pilgrimage.It is interesting that till her
never failed to crack jokes and was endowed with a razar sharp memory.In conversations she
quoted appropriate lines from Shakespear and Rabindra Nath Tagore.Indira Miri
was conferred the Padmashree title in 1973.Only a few days back when she
was in coma, she
was declared the reciepient of Sankardev award.
At the demise of Indira Miri
the greatest teacher of Assam
on September 5, 2004 in the ripe old age of 94.Assam
has lost a great educationist and a very cultured lady.Thus a light was extinguished and a great voice was hushed into silence.May her
soul rest in eternal peace and happiness!