As we enter the 72nd year of India's freedom, the country has witnessed fierce women leaders who have changed the face of the nation. In the history of the nation, there have been many women leaders in the post-Independence era who have made a significant contribution to place India on the global map. On the occasion of India's 72nd Independence Day, let us take you on the journey of a few out of the many extraordinary icons, game changers who made it big on the world stage. The list includes familiar and great Indian female leaders - Indira Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, Amrit Kaur and Nirmala Sitharaman.
Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first and, to date, the only female Prime Minister of India. She was an Indian politician, stateswoman and a central figure of the Indian National Congress. She served as Prime Minister from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until October 1984, making her the second longest-serving Indian prime minister after her father. Gandhi was known to be a woman with grit. She wouldn't bow down to any pressures. Even as she was criticised for having declared Emergency in India from 1975 to 1977, Gandhi was voted back to power in 1980. In 1984, she was assassinated by her bodyguards.
Sushma Swaraj, a senior leader and former president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the second woman to hold the office, after Indira Gandhi. At the age of 25 in 1977, Swaraj became the youngest cabinet minister of the north Indian state of Haryana. Swaraj was called India's 'best-loved politician' by the US daily Wall Street Journal. Swaraj has been serving as the Indian Minister of External Affairs under Prime Minister Narendra Modi since May 2014, responsible for implementing the foreign policy of Narendra Modi.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post in pre-independent India. In 1937, she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health.
After India got its Independence in 1947, Pandit entered the diplomatic service and became India's ambassador to 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.
Amrit Kaur, also known as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was the first health minister of India and served for ten years in the capacity. Kaur, a freedom fighter and the princess of Kapurthala, was the first Asian president of WHO’s governing body and the founder of AIIMS.
She was an eminent Gandhian, a freedom fighter, and a social activist. Kaur was also a member of the Constituent Assembly, the body that framed the constitution of India. Kaur is also remembered for her campaign against malaria, a disease that took lives of one million in a year in India.
Nirmala Sitharaman is currently serving as the Minister of Defence in the Narendra Modi government. Sitrharaman is also a member of the Rajya Sabha for Karnataka and has formerly served as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs. Prior to that, she has served as a national spokesperson for the BJP. On September 3, 2017, Sitharaman was elevated to Defence Minister, being only the second woman after Indira Gandhi to hold the Defence Minister post.
These incredible Indian women are exemplars of strength, intelligence, and resilience. They have risen to the top in their fields and have become beacons of hope for future generations. More power to them!