The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


CALCUTTA, India, (Delayed) Friday—We climbed aboard the U.S. Embassy plane for a trip to Dacca in Eastern Pakistan. The feeling runs so high between India and Pakistan that they do not cross each other's borders except in international transports, and getting the passports is extremely difficult. So this trip had to be taken under American auspices. It is only a 50-minute flight from Calcutta to Dacca.

On arrival there we were met by Begum Noon, wife of Premier Nurool Amin, who is also the head of the All-Pakistan Women's Association for Eastern Pakistan. Begum Noon is a very charming woman. She is Austrian by birth but was educated in England and now is completely devoted to Pakistan. At the airport there were many women representing different branches of her organization and they had a company of their auxiliary military services there also. These girls do a certain amount of military drill but are used for nursing, Red Cross first aid groups, and clerical work.

I inspected the company and then after greeting all the ladies I went over to speak to a large group of Girl Guides. In India and Pakistan they are called Girl Guides because the units or troops were started while the British were here. Their leader, however, spoke to me with great appreciation of what the American Girl Scouts had done through their scholarships to foreign nations. She told me that one girl had gone to America on a scholarship last year and another one would go this year.

A nice letter came to me from a child in India the other day, which I am going to insert just as it was written so that you can see that generosity brings its own return. She wrote:

"My mother often reads out to me from newspapers and tells me how many American ladies and gentlemen and even children are trying to help our country by sending out food, medicines, and many other things besides. She couldn't tell me, however, whether our people have sent any presents in return. I thought it would be nice to save up my pocket money for three months and let you have it when you came to Calcutta to buy presents for American children.

"I enclose RS 7/8. Do please accept it. I hope you and Mr. Truman will not mind because it is such a small sum.

"I was promoted to 4th standard in January last. I am in St. Theresa's, which is a very good school in Kidderpore, Calcutta.

“My mother said I could have RS 3/ as pocket money every month. That makes it RS 9/ (RS 3x3= 9/). I spent RS 1/8 and saved the rest which I now send to you.”

On leaving the airport in Dacca we went straight to the Prime Minister's house and I had breakfast with the Premier and some members of his Cabinet. It was a second breakfast but very welcome as I had my first one at six o'clock. From that moment on we had a busy program.

First I visited the slums in some of which the women's organization is trying to improve living conditions. As there are all kinds of diseases around in these overcrowded cities the women really have a tremendous task, and I was glad to see that our American women, wherever they are, lend a helping hand to the Indian women.

One complication, of course, is that even in the cities domestic animals live right in the streets and practically in the houses with the people. This certainly does the sanitary conditions no good.

From the slum area we went in a tiny airplane down the river to a jute factory. We went through that and then rowed across the river to a typical village where we observed the effort being made to develop local cottage industries. This also is carried on by the women's organizations.

We ended up on the Premier's houseboat in the river where about 100 women were gathered for a meeting, which was held prior to lunch. Then I was driven back to the airport and took off for Calcutta.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Calcutta (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 29, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.