Brinda Karat

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Brinda Karat
বৃন্দা কারাট

Brinda Karat by Debjani Basu.jpg
Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Assumed office
Member of Parliament – Rajya Sabha
Assumed office
Constituency West Bengal
Personal details
Born (1947-10-17) 17 October 1947 (age 69)
Calcutta, West Bengal, Dominion of India
Political party Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Spouse(s) Prakash Karat

Brinda Karat (Bengali: বৃন্দা কারাট) (born 17 October 1947)[1] is a communist politician from India, elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) member, on 11 April 2005 for West Bengal.

In 2005, she became the first woman member of the CPI(M) Politburo.[2] She has also been the general secretary of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) from 1993 to 2004,[3][4] and thereafter its Vice-President.[5]


Childhood and education[edit]

Brinda Karat was born in Calcutta, where she spent her early childhood in a family of four siblings, including one brother and three sisters. Her father was Sooraj Lal Das. She lost her mother Oshrukona Mitra, at the age of five.[citation needed] She has a sister, Radhika Roy who is married to Prannoy Roy.

Brinda was educated at the elite Welham Girls School in Dehradun and, at 16, went on to do her B.A. Degree at Miranda House, a college affiliated to the University of Delhi. In 1971, she enrolled for her History at the University of Calcutta

Political career[edit]

In 1967, after graduation from Miranda House, she left for London, where she worked with Air India at Bond Street for four years. While working for Air India, she campaigned against the mandatory wearing of skirts in the airlines rather than the saree.The Air India. headquarters finally agreed with her and ever since then women working for the airline in London can exercise a choice of whether to wear a saree or a skirt as their uniform.

In an interview, Karat says she returned to India motivated to work for the people.[6] While working in London, she became associated with the anti-imperialist, and anti-war movements during the Vietnam War and Marxist ideology.[7] She joined many of the anti war demonstrations in London.

In 1971, she decided to leave her job and return to Calcutta. She started her political work as a student activist since under the guidance of the Party she enrolled as a student in Calcutta University. On the suggestion of the party to understand practical politics, she joined the Calcutta University.[6] Initially she worked with students in the college campus and later during the Bangladesh war at refugee camps in the State.She was also writing for the Party weekly and later became a full-time worker there.

In 1975, she shifted to Delhi[8] and on November 7, 1975, she married Prakash Karat.[9] The same year she joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist)[8] and started working as a trade union organiser with textile mill workers in North Delhi. She grew to be active with worker's movements and the Indian women's movements.[10] She gained prominence in the campaign for reform of rape laws in the 1980s. Karat was relegated from the central committee in the wake of her protest against the lack of representation of women in politburo. But the party found it an act against Leninist principles. Even today, Brinda stands out as a prominent campaigner for gender issues.[11]

On 11 April 2005, she was elected to the Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha as a CPI(M) member for West Bengal.

In 2005, only after the inclusion of 5 women members to the Central Committee did Brinda Karat agree to be nominated to the exclusive 17 member Politburo. [1]. The Politburo is the highest decision-making body of the party and Brinda Karat is its first woman member.[12]

Recent controversies[edit]

Remarks on Baba Ramdev[edit]

Her remarks accusing Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev of violating labour laws, and publicising accusations about his workers mixing human body parts in potions,[13] have drawn strong condemnation from some in India, including reprimands from politicians like Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ambika Soni, and Narayan Dutt Tiwari. Pawar noted that Baba Ramdev's 'scientific approach' to yoga was useful[14] while Laloo Prasad Yadav denounced Karat's allegations.[15] Subsequently she received a legal notice on the behalf of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Faridabad.[16]


She is married to Prakash Karat, a Keralite by origin and a prominent CPI(M) leader, who was the general secretary of the party till 19 April 2015. Her sister Radhika Roy is married to Prannoy Roy, founder and CEO of NDTV.[17] In 2005, she participated in Amu,[18] a film made by her niece, Shonali Bose, on the Anti-Sikh riots in 1984. She is an aunt of the historian Vijay Prashad.

Literary works[edit]

Brinda is the author of Survival and Emancipation: Notes from Indian Women's Struggles. This is a comprehensive book on the wide ranging concerns of the women’s movements in India from a left perspective.[2][3]


  • Survival and Emancipation: Notes from Indian Women's Struggles. Three Essays Collective, New Delhi, 2005. ISBN 81-88789-37-2.


  1. ^ Interview, livemint
  2. ^ a b Book Review, Frontline, Jul 02 – 15, 2005 Archived 15 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Author profile, threeessays
  4. ^ New woman on top December 2004
  5. ^ The 7th National Conference of AIDWA, Frontline, Dec. 04 – 17, 2004[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b The Rediff Interview/Marxist leader Brinda Karat
  7. ^ Interview, The Tribune,February 8, 2004
  8. ^ a b Exclusive Interview/Brinda Karat; "In 1975 I shifted to Delhi because I wanted to work in the trade unions. At that time our party general secretary was Comrade (P) Sunderayya. He was ahead of his time. He had a clear perspective of the area of work to assign workers. He had a sensitive cadre policy. I was privileged to join the party in Delhi when he was the leader. I was accepted and got my membership."
  9. ^ The less sociable socialist: India Today
  10. ^ The Faceless Female Worker, The Times of India, 22 Jun 2005
  11. ^ `It is a question of political will', Interview, Frontline, July 2005 Archived 15 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Interview, Rediff part 2
  13. ^ In the name of Ayurveda, The Frontline, Feb. 10, 2006 Archived 1 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Pawar appreciates work of Ramdev The Hindu – 9 January 2006
  15. ^ Asia Times, Jan 28, 2006
  16. ^ Legal Notice over Ramdev Issue
  17. ^ Exclusive Interview/Brinda Karat; "Since her equally talented sister Radhika Roy and brother-in-law Dr Prannoy Roy run NDTV (New Delhi Television), Brinda's Leftist orientation is intriguing for many"
  18. ^ Brinda Karat at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]