One of the most sought after activists and writer is Mahasweta Devi. She was born in Dhaka to a Brahmin family and her father Manish Ghatak was an eminent poet and novelist. He is the younger brother of the noted moviemaker Ritwik Ghatak. Mahasweta’s mother Dharitri Devi was a noted writer and social worker and her siblings were well known in literary and arts field.
Mahasweta Devi started her schooling in Dhaka but after partition she moved to Bengal. There, she studied in Viswabharati University and completed her BA (Hons) in English followed by MA (English) at Calcutta University. She got married to the famous playwright Bijon Bhattacharya who was one among the founders of the IPTA movement. Her son Nabarun Bhattacharya is a famous novelist today.
Mahasweta started her career as a teacher in Bijoygarh College and also became a journalist and a writer. Her work has been famous for her focus on Lodhas, Shabars, the tribes of Bengal and the Dalits. In her books, she has always written about how the tribal people and untouchables were oppressed by upper-caste landlords and government officials. Most of her works have been fiction.
She won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979 and this was followed by the Padma Shri in 1986. Later, she was also the recipient of the Jnanpith award along with the Ramon Magsaysay award for journalism, literature and arts. In the year 2006 Mahasweta Devi received the Padma Vibhushan award and recently she won the Sahitya Brahma , a lifetime achievement award in Bengali literature.