Trupti Desai, a woman in her early 40s, a gender equality activist from Pune and the founder of an NGO called Bhumata Brigade. Born in Nipani Taluka on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, Desai’s family moved to Pune when she was eight. The eldest among the three siblings, Desai did her primary schooling in her maternal village in Kolhapur. She was a home science student at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersee College but withdrew in the first year due to family problems. She married an entrepreneur Prashant Desai.
She advocates women’s rights and has led several protests against limitations on the entry of women into religious places. In 2003, she became the president of an organisation called Krantiveer Jhopdi Vikas Sangh where she helped in the rehabilitation of slum dwellers. This was her first foray into activism. She campaigned against Ajit Pawar in 2007 over alleged financial irregularities at the Ajit Cooperative Bank. There were several allegations on her that she is a stooge of Right-wingers and that is the reason she attacked then the NCP and Congress government leaders. Some even criticise her for her selective activism. In 2012, Trupti Desai unsuccessfully contested the Pune Municipal Corporation election on a Congress ticket.
She took social activism by fighting corruption and injustice against women. In 2016, her NGO Bhoomata Brigade reportedly had 5,000 members, including men. She was also associated with Anna Hazare’s India against Corruption (IAC) movement. She is the follower of spiritual guru Gagangiri Maharaj of Kolhapur. In September 2016, she was approached for Bigg Boss 10 a reality show on colours TV, but she said that she will only participate if Bigg Boss will use a female as an anchor to the show.
A branch of the organisation also assists victims of eve-teasing, dowry issues and physical or sexual assault. In 2016, she visited the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai to offer prayers but could not enter the inner sanctum. In 2018, she tried to enter the Sabarimala shrine but cancelled her plan after she was blocked by protesters at the Cochin airport. She successfully fought for the entry of women into the inner sanctum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. She has also fought for gender equality at the Trimbakeshwar temple and Kolhapur’s Mahalakshmi temple.
She is discharging the duties which are given to her. She became famous after she began her agitation for the entry of women in Shani Shingnapur in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The Indians were deviating from superstitions and steep declines in clientele in the temples thereby decreasing the income of the priests and business of allied enterprises in the temple cities. To take care of the business of the priests and the entrepreneurs, the system planted Trupti Desai.
Several forums have alleged that Desai is a Christian agent who had converted about six years back and has taken up the agenda of destroying the Hindu belief system as well as the religious establishments. Some have accused her of being a Congress stooge since she indeed was a Congress party member who was given a ticket to contest a local election some years back and had failed. well! She never bothered about her failures, critics and social media attackers. She followed her path the way she decided.
She is an outspoken and agitator lady who loves media reportage on her since this gives her more influence. Recently she announced no bra day for women in Maharashtra and asked them to participate in this event. She sent her video appeal to the media across, but so far no such day or event is officially announced by her. She conceived the idea from one Marathi actress’s social media post to oppose patriarchal mentality.
But originally No Bra Day was initially observed on July 9, 2011, but within three years it had moved to the 13th day of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October. Users on social media were encouraged to post using the hashtag #nobraday to promote awareness of breast cancer symptoms and to encourage gender equality. Some users on social media sites also encourage women to post pictures of them not wearing a bra. Some women embrace No Bra Day as a political statement while others prefer the comfort of discarding what they view as a restrictive, uncomfortable garment.
The event had spread worldwide. The event was spun off as a medical event in Toronto, Canada, that encourages breast cancer survivors to consider reconstructive surgery. First held on October 19, 2011, the medical event was named BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day. It was adapted by an anonymous individual who conceived of No Bra Day as a way to encourage women to enjoy being braless and to become knowledgeable about breast cancer symptoms. The day is controversial as some see it as sexualizing and exploiting women’s bodies while at the same time belittling a serious disease.