Inviting our Delhi friends

We are pleased to invite you for an afternoon of conversation between us on Supriya Singh’s The Girls Ate Last:  Partition, Education and the life of Inder Kaur.

Inder Kaur, the author’s mother, grew up in the early 20th century. Girls were expected to eat last after the men and boys, and were often given only a few years of schooling. It is a story of women that is still repeated. With a Year 8 education, Inder Kaur turned the Partition of India into a personal victory. Seeking employment in Delhi, she educated herself one step at a time, as her marriage and home disintegrated, to become the founding principal of three women’s colleges.

This story of changing gender and kinship frameworks is also a story of love and loss. But in the end it is a story of a woman having the courage to value herself and helping other women do the same.

Venue: Indian Women’s Press Corp (IWPC), 5 Windsor Place, Ashoka Road, Tel:  +91 11 2332 5366

Date: Friday, March 7, 2014

Time: 3.30 – 5.30 pm

Please join us for tea after the reading and discussion. The book will be available at the IWPC. It is also available on

An RSVP to either of us would be appreciated.

Anita Anand,  Director, Com First (India) Private Ltd

Supriya Singh, Professor and Author,



From The Sunday Tribune, 2 March 2014

By Neha Saini

Observing the world around her, a renowned sociologist and scholar turned her into an author. While Supriya Singh had been sharing her own experiences through her books, her latest is about her mother.

Titled “Girls Ate Last: Partition, Education and the Life of Inder Kaur,” the book is about Singh’s mother who was one of the leading educationists and founding principal of three colleges including the Khalsa College of Education for Women. At a book launch and reading session, the author opened up about the purpose of writing a memoir to her mother and the sociological gender disparities during one of the darkest times in the country’s history. “Partition was responsible for dislocation of the close-knit family network of our society at the time, which kept the women home-bound and secluded. There were a lot of silences in our social history about women, but during Partition and after that, the women were forced to think and act, pushed by circumstances. My mother’s story is quite similar and so I wanted to share it,” shares the Melbourne-based author.,,,

Giving details of her mother, from Inder Kaur’s birth in 1911 to her growing up years in Pakistan, Partition and her education in Delhi after that, the book traces sensitive gender issues. “Girls were supposed to eat last in the household, only after all the men in family were done eating. They had limited education and never encouraged to ask what they want, but only to pick between the choices given to them. Girls knew that they got less than the boys in the family, but never created fuss about it,” says Singh, who has earlier written extensively about money and social shaping.

But her book is also a story of survival and enablement. “It was not women liberalisation that prompted my mother to pursue education post-Partition, but a simple, traditional reason that her daughters should get good education. She took up teaching my elder sister Punjabi and later gave private tuitions to the kids in her school. It was also a source of income for her household. While she did that, encouraged by the response she completed her graduation. The fact that she received honour for what she could give, turned her survival turned into emancipation when she wanted to pursue her Master’s in Punjabi, she was one of the first two women in Delhi University during 1956 to study Punjabi.”

From there, her journey into becoming one of the leading educationists and founding principal of Khalsa College for women became an inspiration. Surpiya believes that the biggest driving force for her mother was the Partition. “Some of the biggest movements of the twentieth century like the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, Namdhari movement and many, bypassed my mother. But the Partition shook her to the core and changed her life. Her reaction to it was that she could get an education, worked towards enabling other girls do the same, with a quiet feminity,” says Supriya …

Next on her agenda seems to be re-connecting with her Punjabi roots. “I have never really experienced Punjab, but through my research, I have been travelling to villages, small towns and interacting with people about their lives. So, my next book is already in the making,” she signs off.



Amritsar Rotary Club, Civil Lines, hosts a conversation

At the Rotary Club Civil Lines, AmritsarAmritsar’s Rotary Club, Civil Lines, hosted a very gracious launch of the Indian edition of The Girls Ate Last: Partition, Education  and the Life of Inder Kaur. I was touched by the honour of the flower rangoli and the lighting of the lamp. We had a rich conversation about continuing gender disparity; Partition, survival and education; family breakup and parental communication; friendship; love and loss. I would particularly like to thank Dr Sant Prakash Singh Dhillon and Penny for this evening of friendship and dialogue followed by a sumptuous dinner.

Penny and I                    The flower rangoli      Lighting the lamp