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Hansa Jivraj Mehta

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Hansa Jivraj Mehta
Born(1897-07-03)3 July 1897
Died4 April 1995(1995-04-04) (aged 97)
SpouseJivraj Narayan Mehta

Hansa Jivraj Mehta (3 July 1897 – 4 April 1995)[1] was a reformist, social activist, educator, independence activist, feminist and writer from India.[2][3] She was one of only two women delegates working alongside Eleanor Roosevelt in the UN Human Rights Commission 1946-48 ensuring the wording "all human beings" instead of "all men" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[4]

Early life[edit]

Hansa Mehta was born in a Jain family on 3 July 1897.[5] She was a daughter of Manubhai Mehta, Dewan of Baroda State, and the granddaughter of Nandshankar Mehta, the author of the first Gujarati novel Karan Ghelo.[1][6]

She graduated with Philosophy in 1918. She studied journalism and sociology in England. In 1918, she met Sarojini Naidu and later Mahatma Gandhi in 1922.[6][7]

She was married to Jivraj Narayan Mehta, an eminent physician and administrator who was the first Chief Minister of Gujarat.

She was expelled from the Nagar Brahmin caste for her marriage to Jivraj Mehta.[8]


Politics, education and activism[edit]

Hansa Mehta organized the picketing of shops selling foreign clothes and liquor, and participated in other freedom movement activities in line with the advice of Mahatma Gandhi. Later She established Desh Sevika Dal in 1930. She was even arrested and sent to jail by the British along with her husband in 1932. she was elected to Bombay Legislative Council.[2]

After independence, she was among the 15 women who were part of the constituent assembly that drafted the Indian Constitution.[9] She was a member of the Advisory Committee and Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights.[10] She advocated for equality and justice for women in India.[11][6][12]

Hansa was elected to Bombay Schools Committee in 1926 and became president of All India Women's Conference in 1945–46. In her presidential address at the All India Women's Conference convention held in Hyderabad, she proposed a Charter of Women's Rights. She held different posts in India from 1945 to 1960 - the vice-chancellor of SNDT Women's University, member of All India Secondary Board of Education, president of Inter University Board of India and vice-chancellor of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda,[7] among others.

Hansa represented India on the Nuclear Sub-Committee on the status of women in 1946. As the Indian delegate on the UN Human Rights Commission in 1947–48, she was responsible for changing the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from "all men are born free and equal" to "all human beings are born free and equal",[13] highlighting the need for gender equality.[14] Hansa later went on to become the vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations in 1950. She was also a member of the executive board of UNESCO.[3][15]

Literary career[edit]

She wrote several children's books in Gujarati including Arunnu Adbhut Swapna (1934), Bablana Parakramo (1929), Balvartavali Part 1-2 (1926, 1929). She translated some books of Valmiki Ramayana: Aranyakanda, Balakanda and Sundarakanda. She translated many English stories, including Gulliver's Travels. She had also adapted some plays of Shakespeare. Her essays were collected and published as Ketlak Lekho (1978).[2][7]


In Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil

  • Traṇa nāṭako. (1926). Mumbaī : Haṃsā Mhetā OCLC 41051797
  • Mehta, Hansa; Swift, Jonathan. Goḷībāranī musāpharī. Vaḍodarā : Bālajīvana Kāryālaya (1931) OCLC 38143737
  • Rukmiṇī. (1933). Vaḍodarā : Ārya Sudhāraka Presa OCLC 38146975 (in Gujarati)
  • Aruṇanuṃ adbhuta svapna. (1934). Mumbaī : Haṃsā Mahetā OCLC 34302217
    • Mehta, S. Haṅsa. (1950). Arunnanu adbhuta svapṅa. Ahmedabad, India : Gujar Granth Ratna Karyalaya OCLC 798280350
  • Bāḷavārtāvali [Bacchanal]. (1939). Mumbaī : Sola ejaṇṭa, Śishṭa Sāhitya Bhaṇḍāra OCLC 37520092
  • Himālaya svarūpa ane bījaṃ nāṭako. Śishṭa.
  • Mehta, Hansa. Trana natako ane bijam [Three plays and so on]. (1956). OCLC 83589713
  • Mehta, Hansa; Cimanalāla, Candravadana; Sitāṃśu, Yaśaścandra. Keṭalāka lekha. Mumbaī : Phārbasa Gujarātī Sabhā (1977) OCLC 40562864
  • Mehta, Hansa; Collodi, Carlo. Bavlana prakramo [Brave feats] Rajkot : Pravin Rajkot (1993) OCLC 59900007
  • Mehta, Hansa. Ram Katha. [The story of Ram] (1993). Delhi : National Book Trust. OCLC 60101616 (in Hindi)
  • Mehta, Hansa. Ayotiyin iḷavarasan. (2004). Delhi : National Book Trust. ISBN 978-81-237-4211-3 OCLC 226217889 (in Tamil)

In English

  • Post-war educational reconstruction: with special reference to women's education in India. (----) Bombay : Pratibha OCLC 48328021
  • The Woman under the Hindu Law of Marriage & Succession. (1944). p. 52, Bombay : Pratibha Publications. OCLC 752614477
  • Hansa, Mehta. (ed.) "Civil liberties". (1945). for the All-India Women's Conference, Aundh : Aundh Pub. Trust, OCLC 62614613
  • Indian woman. (1981). New Delhi : Butala OCLC 987877729 (in English)


into English

  • King of Ujjainī; VIKRAMĀDITYA Haṃsā; Mehta, Hansa. The Adventures of King Vikrama. (Selections from Ṣāmala Bhaṭa's Gujarati version of Siṃhāsana-batrīsī. With plates.) (1948). Bombay : Oxford University Press, pp.vii, 150. OCLC 503783112
    • Mehta, Hansa; Shukla, V. K. Adventures of King Vikrama. (1954) London : Oxford Univ. Press, OCLC 551829319
  • Sarma, D.S.; Mehta, Hansa. The prince of Ayodhya. New Delhi : National Book Trust, India : Chief stockists in India, Thomson Press (India) (1974). OCLC 7609419 (in English)
  • Une femme d'aujourd'hui: roman. (1966). Paris : Albin Michel. OCLC 58992586 (in French)


Hansa Mehta was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1959.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Trivedi, Shraddha (2002). Gujarati Vishwakosh (Gujarati Encyclopedia). Vol. 15. Ahmedabad: Gujarati Vishwakosh Trust. p. 540. OCLC 248968453.
  2. ^ a b c Wolpert, Stanley (5 April 2001). Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford University Press. p. 149. ISBN 9780199923922.
  3. ^ a b Srivastava, Gouri (2006). Women Role Models: Some Eminent Women of Contemporary India. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 14–16. ISBN 9788180693366.
  4. ^ Adami, Rebecca (2019). Women and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York & London: Routledge. pp. 63–73. ISBN 9780429437939.
  5. ^ Vatsal, Radha (31 May 2024). "Overlooked No More: Hansa Mehta, Who Fought for Women's Equality in India and Beyond". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  6. ^ a b c "Hansa Jivraj Mehta: Freedom fighter, reformer; India has a lot to thank her for". The Indian Express. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Chaudhari, Raghuveer; Dalal, Anila, eds. (2005). "લેખિકા-પરિચય" [Introduction of Women Writers]. વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન [20 Century Women's Writing's in Gujarati] (in Gujarati) (1st ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 350. ISBN 8126020350. OCLC 70200087.
  8. ^ Adami, Rebecca (2018). Women and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Taylor & Francis.
  9. ^ Ravichandran, Priyadarshini (13 March 2016). "The women who helped draft our constitution". Mint. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  10. ^ "CADIndia". cadindia.clpr.org.in. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  11. ^ "CADIndia". cadindia.clpr.org.in. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  12. ^ RAJU, M. P. (27 April 2016). "Denial of rights". Frontline. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  13. ^ Jain, Devaki (2005). Women, Development and the UN. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 20.
  14. ^ www.un.int https://web.archive.org/web/20140112084212/http://www.un.int/india/india%20%26%20un/humanrights.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2014. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Dhanoa, Belinder (1997). Contemporary art in Baroda. Tulika. p. 267. ISBN 9788185229041.
  16. ^ "Hansa Jivraj Mehta". Praful Thakkar's Thematic Gallery of Indian Autographs. Retrieved 19 June 2016.