Ramadevi Choudhury(Odia: ରମାଦେବୀ ଚୌଧୁରୀ)(3 December 1899 – 22 July 1985 ), also known as Rama Devi, was an Indian freedom fighter and a social reformer. She was called Maa (Mother) by the people of Orissa.
She was the daughter of Gopal Ballav Das and the niece of Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das. At the age of 15, she married Gopabandhu Choudhury, then a Deputy Collector.
Role during Independence
She and her husband the two together joined the Indian independence movement in 1921. She was highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi She used to go from village to village to encourage women to join the independence movement. Others who influenced her were Jai Prakash Narayan, Vinoba Bhave and her uncle Madhusudan Das. In 1921, she had her first meeting with Gandhiji and with her husband joined the Non Cooperation Movement. The same year they joined the Indian National Congress and started wearing khadi. In they year 1930, she took active part in Salt Satyagraha movement at Orissa level. She went to Inchudi and Srijang, with other activist like Kiranbala Sen, Maltidevi, Saraladevi, Pranakrushna Padhiari. She and other of her colleagues were arrested in November 1930 and put in different jails by British. She was arrested several times (in 1921, 1930, 1936, 1942) with other women independence activists like Sarala Devi, Malati Choudhury and others and was sent to jail. She attended the 1931 Karachi session of Indian National Congress and at that time requested leaders to hold next session in Orissa. In 1932 after release from Hazaribagh jail, she got herself actively involved in Harijan welfare. She stated Asprushyata Nibarana Samiti under the instruction of Gandhiji for eradication of untouchability. The institution was later renamed as Harijan Sewa Sangha She was closely involved in the 1932 and 1934 visits to Orissa by Gandhiji, Kasturba, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and others. She started an Ashram at Bari, which Gandhiji had named as Sewaghar. During Quit India Movement of 1942 the entire family of Rama Devi including her husband Gopabandhu Choudhury were arrested. After the death of Kasturba Gandhi, Gandhji assigned her with the work of the representative of Kasturba Trust's of Orissa Chapter.
Role after independence of India
After the Independence of India in 1947, Rama Devi dedicated herself to the cause of Bhoodan and Gramdan movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave. In 1952 she along with her husband she traveled on foot about 4000 kilometres across the state to propagate the message of giving land and wealth to the landless and poor. From 1928, Rama Devi stayed in the Alaka Ashram at Jagatsingpur.
She helped set up the Utkal Khadi Mandal and also established a Teachers’ Training Centre and Balwadi at Ramchandrapur. In 1950 she set up a Tribal Welfare Centre at Dumburugeda. During the 1951 famine she and Malati worked in famine relief in Koraput. She worked to aid soldiers affected by the Indo-Chinese War of 1962.
During the Emergency she protested by bringing out her own newspaper along with Harekrushna Mahatab and Nilamani Routray. The Gram Sevak Press, was banned by the government and was arrested along with other leaders from Orissa like Nabakrushna Choudhuri, Harekrushna Mahatab, Manmohan Chowdhury, Smt. Annapurna Moharana, Jaykrushana Mohanty, and others.
She established a primary school, Shishu Vihar and a cancer hospital at Cuttack.
In recognition of her services to the nation, Ramadevi was awarded the Jamnalal Bajaj Award on 4 November 1981 and the Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris causa) by Utkal University on 16 April 1984.
Ramadevi Women's University at Bhubaneshwar is named in her memory. The school - Shishu Vihar - started by her at Cuttack is now named Ramadevi Shishu Vihar.
She died on 22 July 1985.