Aruna Ganguly was born on July 16, 1909, in Kalka, to Upendranath Ganguly, a restaurant owner who had migrated from Barisal, Bangladesh, to the United Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh).
Upendranath and his wife, Ambalika Devi, were both devout Brahmo Samaj (a monotheistic reformist movement that originated during the Bengal Renaissance) adherents who were fairly liberal. As a result, Aruna had a typical childhood for a Bengali Brahmo girl from an upper-class Bengali family.
Aruna got her education at the Sacred Heart Convent in Lahore and went on to All Saints' College in Nainital for her college education. She went to work as a teacher at Calcutta's Gokhale Memorial School after graduation.
• Despite parental opposition based on faith and age, 19-year-old Aruna married Asaf Ali in Allahabad in 1928.
• Asaf Ali was an influential member of the Indian National Congress (INC).
• His young bride was introduced to the political elite of the time through this marriage. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajgopalachari, and Maulana Azad were among the prominent nationalist leaders who attended their wedding.
• During the Salt Satyagraha, Aruna Asaf Ali took part in a number of nonviolent agitations. The colonial authorities immediately imprisoned her for this.
• In 1931, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed, promising the release of all those detained during the Salt Satyagraha, but Aruna Asaf Ali was not one of them.
• Only a strong protest by Mahatma Gandhi and other female freedom that she was released.
• She was not politically active when she was released, but by the end of 1942, she had become an active member of the movement.
• Aruna, along with Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, represented the lineage and linkage of the women's rights movement with the freedom struggle between the 1950s and 1970s.
• She was the first woman to be elected Mayor of Delhi in 1958, and she was responsible for significant civic reforms.
• But she grew tired of petty politicking and resigned from the position, vowing never to work for the government or run for office again.
• Rather, she concentrated her efforts on newspaper-led protests that rallied support for social reforms.
• She received the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1964.
• She received the Padma Vibhushan in 1992 and the Bharat Ratna in 1997, a year after her death.
• The legend died peacefully on July 29, 1996, at the age of 87.
• She had lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the road bearing her husband's name (Asaf Ali Marg) until the end of her life.
ARUNA AND QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT
• The Indian National Congress passed the Quit India resolution on August 8, 1942. As a result, the colonial government imprisoned key figures of the movement in order to put an end to it before it got out of hand.
• Despite the fact that many of the party's leaders and staff were incarcerated, Aruna Asaf Ali led the rest of the party to Gowalia Tank Maidan and unfurled the Congress flag, signalling the launch of the Quit India Movement.
• The police opened fire on the crowd, but Aruna remained unflappable in the face of risk. As protests and demonstrations erupted throughout the region, the lack of senior leadership did little to stem the tide of nationalism.
• An arrest warrant was released in her name, but she managed to elude capture by editing the magazine ‘Inquilab’, a publication of the Congress party, while in hiding.
• She continued to exhort the youth to fight for freedom by constructive revolution rather than passive activism. For her capture, the British gave a reward of Rs.5000.
• Despite Mahatma Gandhi's pleas to surrender, claiming that she had done her duty to the cause, she did not come out of hiding until 1946, when the arrest warrant in her name was lifted.