Chonira Belliappa Muthamma (Kannada:ಚೋನಿರ ಬೆಳ್ಯಪ್ಪ ಮುತ್ತಮ್ಮ) (January 24, 1924 - October 14, 2009) was the first woman to sit the Indian Civil Services examinations in 1948 and to join the Indian Foreign Service in 1949. She was the first Indian female diplomat. Later, she became the first Indian female Ambassador/High Commissioner.
Born in Virajpet in Coorg in 1924, Ms. Muthamma completed her schooling in St.Joseph’s Girl School in Madikeri, and graduated from the Women’s Christian College in Chennai (then Madras) with a triple gold medal. She did her post-graduation in English Literature from Presidency College, Chennai.
She donated a large tract of personal land amounting to approximately 15 acres in Delhi to The Missionaries of Charity where a school for orphans has been started.
Muthamma is known for her successful crusade for gender equality in the Indian Civil Service. She petitioned the government, claiming that she had been overlooked for promotion and that the rules governing the employment were discriminatory. Her case was upheld in 1979 in a landmark judgment by a three-member Bench headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. The court impressed upon the government of India “the need to overhaul all service rules to remove the stains of sex discrimination, without waiting for ad-hoc inspiration from writ petitions or gender charity.” She retired from the IFS in 1982 after 32 years of service.