India’s freedom struggle has a list of names welded forever with it. In the list, a distinguished set belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family, whose members played a vital role in building up the country to what it is today. Today marks the birth anniversary of one of the members of the family, Vijaya Laxmi Pandit.
Vijaya Laxmi was a renowned politician, diplomat, and freedom fighter. Along with this, she was also Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister. During the freedom struggle, Vijaya Laxmi became the first woman to hold local self-government and public health cabinet from 1937-1939. In the post-independence era, she held the position of the Governor of Maharashtra from 1962-1964. She has also served as India’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom along with the ambassador to Ireland.
Here are some lesser-known facts about Vijaya Laxmi:
- She was born on August 18, 1900, in Allahabad and was named Swarup Kumari Nehru by her parents Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani Nehru.
- She completed her education from Indian and abroad and got married to Ranjit Sitaram Pandit in 1921. It was then when she changed her name to Vijaya Laxmi Pandit.
- Pandit was appointed as a member of the legislative assembly of the United Provinces, a position she resigned from in 1939 to protest against the British during World War II.
- She was put behind bars by the British administration in the years 1932, 1933, 1940, 1942, and 1943 in relation to the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- Pandit was appointed as the president of the All-India Women’s Conference from 1941-43.
- She was the first woman who got elected as the president of the UN General Assembly and headed the eighth session of the assembly.
- She was an active protestor against the Emergency enforced by her niece Indira Gandhi. The Emergency brought her back into the political realm after a long hiatus for 10-odd years.
- In 1978, she served as the Representative for India in the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
- Apart from wearing multiple hats, she also wore one that of a writer. She authored two books – ‘So I became a Minister’ in 1939 and ‘Prison Days’ in 1946.
- She breathed her last on December 1, 1990, in Dehradun.
Her contribution as a diplomat, politician, and freedom fighter is equally engraved as any other notable person in the struggle history of our country. Happy Birthday, Warrior!