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Vijaylaxmi Pandit

 

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Jawaharlal Nehur's sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit inspired by Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi and impressed by Sarojini Naidu entered the Non Cooperation Movement. She was arrested in 1932 and sent to and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment. She was arrested in 1940, and yet again during the Quit India Movement. She attended the Pacific Relations Conference at Hot Springs, U.S.A. as leader of the Indian delegation sponsored by the Indian Council of World Affairs. She was present in San Francisco when the U.N first met there, and through numerous well attended public lectures she challenged the British dominated delegates rights to represent India therein.

Sister of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru also played a great role in the freedom movement. She was elected to Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 1936 and in 1946. She was the first woman in India to hold a ministerial rank. She was imprisoned thrice for taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932. 1941 and 1942. After Independence, she continued to serve the country. She was the first woman to become president of the United Nations General Assembly.

Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit (1900 - 1990) was an Indian diplomat and politician, In 1921 she married Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, who died on January 14, 1944. She was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post. In 1937 she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. She held the latter post until 1939 and again from 1946 to 1947. In 1946 she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces.

Following India's independence from the British in 1947 she entered the diplomatic service and became India's ambassador to several countries: the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1949, the United States and Mexico from 1949 to 1951, Ireland from 1955 to 1961 (during which time she was also the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom), and Spain from 1958 to 1961. Between 1946 and 1968 she also headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations. In 1953, she became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly

In India, she served as governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964, after which she was elected to the Indian Lok Sabha from Phulpur, her brother's former constituency. She held office from 1964 to 1968. Pandit was a harsh critic of her niece, Indira Gandhi, after Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966, and she retired from active politics after relations between them soured On retiring she moved to Dehradun in the Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

In 1979 she was appointed the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, after which she retired from public life. Her writings include The Evolution of India (1958) and The Scope of Happiness: A Personal Memoir (1979).

Her daughter Nayantara Sahgal, who later settled in her mother's house in Dehradun, is a well-known novelist.