Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
|Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit|
August 18, 1900|
|Died||December 1, 1990(aged 90)|
|Spouse(s)||Ranjit Sitaram Pandit|
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, the aunt of Indira Gandhi and the great-aunt of Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom served as Prime Minister of India.
Personal life 
In 1921 she married Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, a successful 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.
Her daughter Nayantara Sahgal, who later settled in her mother's house in Dehradun, is a well-known novelist.
Political career 
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
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 
Further reading 
- A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Mme. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
|Indian Ambassador to the United States
Gaganvihari Lallubhai Mehta
Lester B. Pearson
|President of the United Nations General Assembly
Eelco N. van Kleffens