Puan Sri Janaki Athi Nahappan, also known as Janaki Devar (February 1925- May 2014). At a young age of 17, inspired by Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose’s appeal to the Indian diaspora to fight for India’s independence, Janaki joined the Rhani of Jhani regiment, the women’s wing of the Indian National Army based in Southeast Asia. Janaki excelled in her military career rising to the rank of Captain and Second in Command in the regiment. She fought against the British along the Burma India border. After the war, she focused her efforts on welfare services in Malaya. She was part of the Indian National Congress Medical Mission in Malaya where she travelled throughout the country and learned about the challenges facing the Indian community in Malaya. Inspired by this experience, in 1946, Janaki co-founded the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) with John Thivy as president. She was an active MIC member and later was appointed Senator in the Malaysian Parliament. In 2000, she was awarded the Padma Shri award—one of India’s highest title— in recognition of her social welfare work and her service to the Indian National Army.
*To learn more about freedom fighter Janaki Athi Nahappan and the Rani of Jhansi regiment, read Women Against the Raj: The Rani of Jhansi Regiment (2008) by Joyce Lebra: bit.ly/TV4ZmG. **Photo from: A Gentleman’s Word: The Legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose in Southeast Asia (2012).