KR Gouri Amma, the chief of Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS), the creator of Kerala’s land reforms, the state’s first woman minister, and one of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers died on May 11, at the age of 102 due to age-related complications at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
Gouri Amma was the state’s first woman lawyer from the Ezhava caste, which is considered as Other Backward Class (OBC). Her life and political career are unrivaled in the state’s culture, as a trailblazer who overcame adversity. After the late K M Mani, she was the longest-serving MLA.
Gouri Amma, who was born within the village of Pattanakkad in Alappuzha in July 1919, went on to study law and open a practice in Cherthala. She became a member of the Communist Party in 1948, and her political career flourished with it. While functioning as Revenue Minister in 1957, Gouri Amma initiated the progressive Land Reforms Bill, which significantly altered the state’s land ownership rights. Among her accomplishments is the establishment of Technopark, which is now India’s leading IT Park in terms of established sector, with over 400 companies and over 50,000 employees. Gouri Amma was a member of the trade union and peasant movements, and she was incarcerated several times. Gouri Amma was dismissed from the CPI (M) in 1994 for “anti-party practices.” She then formed the Janathipathya Samrakshana Samithi, a political organization centered in Alappuzha. Her fiery social engagement, intense battles against the feudal system, firm stand for women’s rights, and incredible administrative astuteness earned her the title “Iron Lady” and enabled her to build out a position in Kerala’s male-dominated politics. Gowri Amma was instrumental in the implementation of the groundbreaking Agrarian Relations Bill, which established a limit on the amount of land a family could possess, enabling dispossessed farmers to claim excess land.