Inspiring Indians - Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

Born in the month of August, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was an Indian diplomat, politician and one of the pioneering women leaders of our country. She was active in the Indian freedom movement and held high national and international positions. 

Early life

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was born in Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) on 18 August 1900. She was given the name Swarup Kumari ("Beautiful Princess") Nehru. She was the eldest daughter of a distinguished Brahmin lawyer and a great political leader, Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani. Vijaya Lakshmi was eleven years younger than her brother, Jawaharlal Nehru. 

At a very early age, she accompanied her father and mother on a tour to Europe. It was then that her father kept a European governess named Miss Hooper, who was known to be a very fine governess with extremely good qualifications. Lessons, play and other activities went on with strict regularity under the careful supervision of the governess and teachers in the spacious and beautiful gardens of their magnificent residence.

Brief Political Life 

Anand Bhawan

As her father became an active great political leader, their family home at Allahabad, Anand Bhavan became the venue of the meetings for the eminent personalities of India. She was greatly influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and became identified with the struggle for independence. She took active part in it, by delivering speeches, leading processions and organising strikes. She was imprisoned by the British on several occasions. After Indian independence, she worked for many years in the new Indian government, and was always interested in women's rights. She changed her name to Vijay Lakshmi Pandit after her marriage to Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, a foreign-educated barrister. 

One of her daughters, Nayantara Sehgal, is a famous Indian novelist. She herself had an interest in writing. Her writings consist of The Evolution of India (1958) and The Scope of Happiness: A Personal Memoir (1979). Ms.Pandit died in 1990. 

Career Highlights

In 1934, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit's long career in politics officially began with her election to the Allahabad Municipal Board. In 1937, she became minister of local self-government and public health, thus becoming the first Indian woman ever to become a cabinet minister
In 1946, she undertook her first official diplomatic mission as leader of the Indian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly
After India's independence in 1947, she joined the Foreign Service and was appointed India's first ambassador to the Soviet Union. Later she also served as the ambassador of India to various countries like Ireland, United States and Mexico
In 1953, she became the first woman and the first Asian to be elected president of the U.N. General Assembly where she spoke against apartheid and in favour of world peace
She also served as governor of Maharashtra

Go back