Maneka Gandhi

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Maneka Gandhi
Maneka Gandhi.jpg
Minister of Women and Child Development
In office
26 May 2014 (2014-05-26) – 24 May 2019 (2019-05-24)
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byKrishna Tirath
Succeeded bySmriti Irani
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Assumed office
23 May 2019 (2019-05-23)
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
In office
2014 (2014)–2019 (2019)
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
In office
2009 (2009)–2014 (2014)
Preceded bySarvraj Singh
Succeeded byDharmendra Kashyap
In office
1996 (1996)–2009 (2009)
Preceded byParshuram Gangwar
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
In office
1989 (1989)–1991 (1991)
Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh
Succeeded byParshuram Gangwar
Minister of State for Programme Implementation and Statistics (Independent Charge)
In office
18 November 2001 (2001-11-18) – 30 June 2002 (2002-06-30)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
In office
January 1990 – April 1990
Prime MinisterVishwanath Pratap Singh
Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge)
In office
1 September 2001 (2001-09-01) – 18 November 2001 (2001-11-18)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
In office
13 October 1999 (1999-10-13) – 1 September 2001 (2001-09-01)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests
In office
December 1989 – June 1991
Prime MinisterVishwanath Pratap Singh
Chandra Shekhar
Personal details
Maneka Anand

(1956-08-26) 26 August 1956 (age 65)
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Other political
  • Janata Dal
    (1988 – 1998)
  • Independent
    (1998 – 2004)
(m. 1974; died 1980)
RelationsSee Nehru–Gandhi family
ChildrenVarun Gandhi
  • Politician
  • Animal-rights activist
As of 27 May, 2014
Source: Government of India

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi (also spelled Menaka; née Anand) (born 26 August 1956) is an Indian politician, animal rights activist, and environmentalist. She is a member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She is the widow of Indian politician Sanjay Gandhi. She has been a minister in four governments, most recently in Narendra Modi's government from May 2014 to May 2019. Gandhi authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal welfare.

Personal life[edit]

Maneka Anand was born on 26 August 1956 in Delhi, India into a Sikh family. Her father was Indian Army officer Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand and her mother was Amteshwar Anand, daughter of Sir Datar Singh. She went to Lawrence School and later Lady Shri Ram College for Women.[1][2] She subsequently studied German at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.[3]

Maneka first met Sanjay Gandhi in 1973 at a cocktail party thrown by her uncle, Major-General Kapur, to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of his son. Maneka married Gandhi, the son of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, one year later on 23 September 1974.[4]

The Emergency of 1975–77 saw the rise of Sanjay into politics and Maneka was seen with him almost every time on his tours as she helped him in campaigns. It is often said that during the Emergency, Sanjay had total control over his mother (Indira) and that the government was run by the PMH (Prime Minister House) rather than the PMO (Prime Minister Office).[5][6][7]

Maneka Gandhi founded the news magazine Surya which later played a key role in promotion of the Congress party after its defeat in the 1977 election following the Emergency.

Gandhi went to court to fight an attempt by the government in power at the time to confiscate her passport and won a landmark decision on personal liberty. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India,[8] the court found that "Democracy is based essentially on free debate and open discussion, for that is the only corrective of government action in a democratic setup."

In 1980 Gandhi gave birth to a son, Feroze, named after his paternal grandfather. Her mother-in-law added the name Varun. Gandhi was just twenty-three years old, and her son just 100 days old, when her husband died in an air crash.[9]

Early life and career[edit]

Maneka's relationship with Indira Gandhi gradually disintegrated after Sanjay's death and they would continually argue with one another. Maneka was eventually forced out of 1, Safdarjung Road, the prime minister's residence, after a fallout with Indira.[2] She founded the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch along with Akbar Ahmad. The party primarily focused on youth empowerment and employment. It won four out of five seats in the Elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Gandhi published The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names, in recognition of her husband's Zoroastrian faith.[10][11]

She later published The Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Boys.[12]

Gandhi contested the Amethi constituency from Uttar Pradesh for the 1984 general election for the Lok Sabha, but lost to Rajiv Gandhi. In 1988, she joined V. P. Singh's Janata Dal Party and became the General Secretary. In the 1989 Indian general election, Gandhi won her first election to Parliament and became a Minister of State as the Minister for Environment.[13]


Gandhi is a self-described environmentalist and animal rights leader in India.[14] She has earned international awards and acclaim.[15] She was appointed chairwoman of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) in 1995. Under her direction, CPCSEA members carried unannounced inspections of laboratories where animals are used for scientific research were conducted.[16]

Gandhi has filed Public Interest Litigations that have achieved the replacement of the municipal killing of homeless dogs with a sterilisation programme (Animal Birth Control programs, commonly abbreviated as ABCs), the unregulated sale of airguns and a ban on mobile or travelling zoos. She currently chairs the Jury of International Energy Globe Foundation which meets annually in Austria to award the best environmental innovations of the year. She is a member of the Eurosolar Board and the Wuppertal Institute, Germany.

Gandhi started the organisation People for Animals[17] in 1992 and it is the largest organisation for animal rights/welfare in India. Gandhi is also a patron of International Animal Rescue. While she is not a vegan,[18] she has advocated this lifestyle on ethical and health grounds. She also anchored the weekly television program Heads and Tails, highlighting the suffering meted out to animals due to their commercial exploitation. She has also authored a book under the same title. Her other books were about Indian people names. She is a cast member for the documentary A Delicate Balance.[19]


Gandhi has often been criticized for her comments.

Threatening a veterinarian over phone

In June 2021, She has called up a veterinarian threatening to cancel his license for a allegedly botched up amputation surgery of a dog. Despite a veterinarian was trying to make her aware of situation- that he has exercised all due care during surgery and it was a ferocious dog which has torn up bandage and surgical wound after surgery, she has hurled abusive and unparliamentary words. The call was recorded and was made viral in all social media. All veterinary associations have condemned and protested her behavior.[20]

Male Suicide Views

In June 2017, during a Facebook Live session, she commented that men do not commit suicide. She received negative responses to the comment and spent the rest of the chat answering questions related to this, with chatters pointing out that 68% of the suicide cases reported in India were committed by men.[21]

False Harassment Threat

In January 2021, Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj came forward with an audio tape where Maneka Gandhi was allegedly berating a man for hitting a dog, and was threatening to file sexual harassment cases against him. The man on the tape claimed that it was in self defense, as the dog had bitten his daughter.[22][23]

Curfew for Women

In March 2017, she said that an early curfew for girls in hostels helped young women control their "hormonal outbursts" and received a backlash for the comment.[24]

Views on Marital Rape

In 2016, she stated that she was against the criminalization of marital rape and received a heavy backlash for the comment.[25][26]

Alleged spread of hatred against Muslims

Police in Kerala booked Gandhi the basis of complaints against her for promoting hatred by levelling accusations coated with communal overtones for a death of a pregnant elephant, against residents in the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram on June 2020. While the elephant died in Mannarcad, Palakkad district, nearly 90 km from Malappuram, BJP leaders including Gandhi targeted the only Muslim-majority district of Kerala.[27][28] She said: “It’s a murder. Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300–400 birds & dogs die at one time”.[29][30] The incident was used by many right-wingers to proliferate anti-Muslim resentment and to demonize the community. A multitude of hateful messages towards Malappuram and its people accompanied her remarks, triggering enraged responses.[31] She was charged with adding communal color to an animal-related issue that would otherwise be constrained within the Department of Forests.[32] A group calling themselves Kerala Cyber Warriors briefly hacked Maneka Gandhi's website, People for Animals, India.[33][34]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1984 – Lost to Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) over 2.7L votes, was contesting as an Independent Candidate
  • 1989–91 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Janata Dal party ticket
  • 1991 – Lost as Janata Dal candidate to BJP's Parashuram in Pilibhit
  • 1996–98 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Janata Dal party ticket
  • 1998–99 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected as an Independent Candidate
  • 1999–2004 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected as an Independent Candidate
  • 2004–09 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2009–14 – Member of Lok Sabha from Aonla (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2014–19 – Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2019–present – Member of Lok Sabha from Sultanpur (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.

Positions held[edit]

  • 1988–89 – General-Secretary, Janata Dal (J.D.)
  • 1989–91 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests
  • January–April 1990 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Programme Implementation
  • 1996–97 – Member, Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests
  • 1998–99 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • 13 October 1999 – 1 September 2001– Union Minister of State, Social Justice and Empowerment (Independent Charge)
  • 1 September 2001 – 18 November 2001 – Union Minister of State, Culture with an additional charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge) Programme Implementation and Statistics with added charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge)
  • 18 November 2001 – 30 June 2002 – Union Minister of State, Programme Implementation and Statistics with an additional charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge)
  • 2002–2004 – Member, Committee on External Affairs
  • 2004 – Member, Committee on Health & Family Welfare, Member, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Environment and Forests
  • 5 August 2007 – onwards Member, Committee on Health & Family Welfare
  • 31 August 2009 – Became Member of Committee on Railways
  • 23 September 2009 – Chairperson, Committee on Government Assurances
  • 19 October 2009 – Member, General Purposes Committee
  • 26 May 2014 – Union Minister of Women & Child Development

In popular culture[edit]

Gandhi hosted Maneka's Ark, an environmental talk show which aired on the Indian national public broadcaster Doorarshan's DD National channel in the 1990s.[35][36] She had earlier hosted Heads & Tails, an animal rights show, on the same channel.[36]


  • Shining World Compassion Award along with a cheque for 20,000 dollars from Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association.[37]
  • Lord Erskine Award from the RSPCA, 1992
  • Environmentalist and Vegetarian of the year 1994
  • Prani Mitra Award, 1996
  • Maharana Mewar Foundation Award, 1996 for Environmental work
  • Marchig Animal Welfare and selling Prize, Switzerland, 1997
  • Venu Menon Animal Allies Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999
  • Bhagwan Mahaveer Foundation Award for Excellence in the sphere of Truth, Non-violence and Vegetarianism, 1999
  • Dewaliben Charitable Trust Award, 1999
  • International Women's Association Woman of the Year Award, Chennai, 2001
  • Dinanath Mangeshkar Aadishakti Puraskar in the field of Environment and animal welfare, 2001
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale Animal Welfare Award[38]
  • A.S.G. Jayakar award, 2008[39]
  • Human Achiever Award in field of Women Empowerment and Children Welfare by Mrs Caroline W/O Ambassador Of Namibia and Ms Sanorita Issac, founder & Chairperson, Human Achiever Foundation, India.


  • 1000 animal quiz, Calcutta : Rupa and Co., 1989, 201 p.
  • Brahma's hair : the mythology of Indian plants, Calcutta : Rupa and Co., 1991, 175 p. With Yasmin Singh.
  • The Penguin book of Hindu names, London : Penguin Books; New Delhi : Penguin Books India, 1992, 522 p. Latest edition in 2008.
  • Dogs, dogs, dogs, New Delhi : Rupa & Co., 1994, 261 p. With Ozair Husain. Latest edition in 2004.
  • The complete book of Muslim and Parsi names, New Delhi : Indus, 1994, 522 p. With Ozair Husain.
  • Heads and tails, Mapusa, Goa, India : Other India Press, 1994, 182 p. On animal rights and animal rights.
  • The rainbow and other stories, New Delhi : Puffin Books, 1999, 67 p. Children's short stories.
  • The Penguin book of Hindu names for boys, New Delhi : Penguin Books, 2004, 429 p.
  • The Penguin book of Hindu names for girls, New York : Penguin Books, 2004, 151 p.
  • The Rupa book of animal quiz, Rupa & Co., 2004, 201 p.
  • Animal laws of India, New Delhi, India : Universal Law Publishing, 2016, 1649 p. With Ozair Husain and Raj Panjwani.
  • Sanjay Gandhi, New Delhi : Prestige Publishers, 2017, 244 p. With Himani Bhatia Narula.
  • There's a monster under my bed! : and other terrible terrors, Gurgaon : Puffin Books, 2019, 54 p. Children's short stories. Illustrations by Snigdha Rao.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Model, Gandhi bahu, Modi's minister: Maneka's fight against dynasty". 27 May 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Exclusive extract from Khushwant Singhs autobiography".
  3. ^ "Mrs Gandhi's son to marry". St. Josephs News Press. 29 July 1974. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ Singh, Kushwant (10 February 2002). "Mrs. G, Maneka and the Anands". The Tribune. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Mystery Called Sanjay Gandhi". Scribd. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  6. ^ Express News Service (11 June 2013). "Emergency 'propagandist' who banned Kishore Kumar songs". Indian Express. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  7. ^ Dasgupta, Swapan (July 1985). "Sanjay Gandhi". Third World Quarterly. 7 (3): 731–778. doi:10.1080/01436598508419863.
  8. ^ "Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, 1978 AIR 597". Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  9. ^ Basu, Arundhati (6 August 2005). "Art of commitment". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India.
  10. ^ Gandhi, Maneka; Husain, Ozair (2 August 2017). The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780143031840. Retrieved 2 August 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Hinnells, John (28 April 2005), The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration, OUP Oxford, pp. 397–398, ISBN 978-0-19-826759-1
  12. ^ Gandhi, Maneka (2004). The Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Boys. New Delhi: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-303168-0. OCLC 60391724.
  13. ^ "At a glance: Maneka Gandhi- from a 'charming model' to 'union minister of India'". 7 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Biographical Sketch". Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  15. ^ See, e.g., Gandhi's MP "Biographical Sketch Archived 1 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine" in which her profession is described as "Writer, Animal Activist and Environmentalist". See also, "Indian Scion Speaks Out, and Uproar Follows Him" (NYT, 2 April 2009) which states: "Maneka Gandhi has cultivated a reputation as an animal rights champion."
  16. ^ "Maneka Sanjay Gandhi". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Article Window". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  19. ^ "The cast from A Delicate balance – the Truth". Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Agra Vet Alleges Maneka Gandhi Abused Him in Call, Colleagues Protest".
  21. ^ "Men Do Not Commit Suicide, Says Minister Maneka Gandhi On Facebook". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Conversation between Maneka Gandhi, businessman goes viral over treatment of animals". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  23. ^ IANS (6 January 2021). "Will have you booked in sexual harassment case: Maneka Gandhi to businessman accused of hitting stray dog". National Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  24. ^ "Maneka Gandhi under fire for 'hormonal outbursts' remark". 7 March 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  25. ^ Sen, Rajyasree (14 March 2016). "Maneka Gandhi tells us marital rape isn't rape after all". mint. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  26. ^ "Marital rape cannot be criminalised in India, says Maneka Gandhi". India Today. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  27. ^ Rakesh, K.M. (6 June 2020). "Maneka Gandhi booked for jumbo hate drive". Telegraph India. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Factually speaking: Maneka Gandhi's claims on Kerala elephants, Malappuram crime rate are baseless – News Analysis News".
  29. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (5 June 2020). "Killing of elephant with explosive-laden fruit causes outrage in India". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  30. ^ Sebastian, Meryl (4 June 2020). "How The Kerala Elephant Death Got Communalised Thanks To Maneka Gandhi". HuffPost India. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  31. ^ N, Smitha (4 June 2020). "Communal colour added to pregnant elephant's death in Kerala". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Case filed against Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  33. ^ "People for Animals website hacked". The Hindu. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  34. ^ "Fact Check: All Fake News Linked to Killing of Pregnant Elephant in Kerala Debunked". The Quint. 6 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  35. ^ "Maneka's motives, BJP's 'mission'!". Rediff. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  36. ^ a b "Television « Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd". Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  37. ^ "Award for Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 November 2010.
  38. ^ "MYLAPORE TIMES". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  39. ^ India News – News from India, Latest India News, Online India News Headlines Archived 19 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Bhanu Pratap Singh
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

Succeeded by
Parshuram Gangwar
Preceded by
Parshuram Gangwar
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

Succeeded by
Varun Gandhi
Preceded by
Sarvraj Singh
Member of Parliament
for Aonla

Succeeded by
Dharmendra Kashyap
Preceded by
Varun Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

Succeeded by
Varun Gandhi
Preceded by
Varun Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Sultanpur

2019 – Present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Krishna Tirath
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Minister of Women and Child Development
26 May 2014 – 2019
Succeeded by
Smriti Zubin Irani

External links[edit]