Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit.jpg
Born (1900-08-18)August 18, 1900
Allahabad
Died December 1, 1990(1990-12-01) (aged 90)
Spouse Ranjit Sitaram Pandit
Children Nayantara Sahgal

Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit (Kashmiri: विजयलक्ष्मी नेहरू पंडित) (18 August 1900 – 1 December 1990) was an Indian diplomat and politician, the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru,[1] the aunt of Indira Gandhi and the grand-aunt of Rajiv Gandhi, each of whom served as Prime Minister of India.

Personal life[edit]

In 1921 she married Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, a successful Maharashtrian barrister from Kathiawad and classical scholar who translated Kalhana's epic history Rajatarangini into English from Sanskrit. He was arrested for his support of Indian independence and died in Lucknow prison jail on 14 January 1944.She died in the year 1990

Her daughter Nayantara Sahgal, who later settled in her mother's house in Dehradun, is a well-known novelist.

Gita Sahgal, the writer and journalist on issues of feminism, fundamentalism, and racism, director of prize-winning documentary films, and human rights activist,is her granddaughter. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. [2]

Political career[edit]

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in the Netherlands in 1965

She was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post. In 1937 she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. She held the latter post until 1939 and again from 1946 to 1947. In 1946 she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces.

Following India's independence from the British in 1947 she entered the diplomatic service and became India's ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1949, the United States and Mexico from 1949 to 1951, Ireland from 1955 to 1961 (during which time she was also the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom), and Spain from 1958 to 1961. Between 1946 and 1968, she headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations. In 1953, she became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.[3]

In India, she served as governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964, after which she was elected to the Indian Lok Sabha from Phulpur, her brother's former constituency from 1964 to 1968. Pandit was a harsh critic of her niece, Indira Gandhi, after she became Prime Minister in 1966. Pandit retired from active politics after relations between them soured. On retiring, she moved to Dehradun in the Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

In 1979, she was appointed the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, after which she retired from public life. Her writings include The Evolution of India (1958) and The Scope of Happiness: A Personal Memoir (1979).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ President of 62nd session, General Assembly of United Nations. "Vijay Lakshmi Pandit (India)". Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Alpha Kappa Alpha 1978". Retrieved 3 July 2006. 
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionaries, online. "Vijay Lakshmi Pandit". Retrieved 2 July 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

Gupta, Indra. India’s 50 Most Illustrious Women. ISBN 81-88086-19-3. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Asaf Ali
Indian Ambassador to the United States
1949–1952
Succeeded by
Gaganvihari Lallubhai Mehta
Preceded by
Lester B. Pearson
President of the United Nations General Assembly
1953
Succeeded by
Eelco N. van Kleffens