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Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka, to literary parents in a Hindu Brahmin family. Her father Manish Ghatak was a well-known poet and novelist of the Kallol era, who used the pseudonym Jubanashwa.[3] Noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak was the youngest brother of Manish Ghatak. Mahasweta's mother Dharitri Devi was also a writer and a social worker whose brothers were very distinguished in various fields, such as the noted sculptor Sankha Chaudhury and the founder-editor of the Economic and Political Weekly of India, Sachin Chaudhury. Her first schooling was in Dhaka, but after the partition of India she moved to West Bengal in India. She joined the Rabindranath Tagore-founded Vishvabharati University in Santiniketan and completed a B.A. (Hons) in English, and then finished an M.A. in English at Calcutta University as well. She later married renowned playwright Bijon Bhattacharya who was one of the founding fathers of the IPTA movement. In 1948, she gave birth to Nabarun Bhattacharya, currently one of Bengal's and India's leading novelist whose works are noted for their intellectual vigour and philosophical flavour. She got divorced from Bijon Bhattacharya in 1959.
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Mahasweta Devi has recently been spearheading the movement against the industrial policy of the government of West Bengal, the state of her domicile. Specifically, she has stridently criticized confiscation of large tracts of fertile agricultural land from farmers by the government and ceding the land to industrial houses at throwaway prices. She has connected the policy to the commercialization of Santiniketan of Rabindranath Tagore, where she spent her formative years. Her lead resulted in a number of intellectuals, artists, writers and theatre workers join in protesting the controversial policy and particularly its implementation in Singur and Nandigram. She is a supporter of Budhan Theatre – the theatre group of Chhara Denotified Tribals of Gujarat.

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