Maneka Gandhi

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Maneka Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Aonla
Incumbent
Assumed office
2009
Preceded byKunwar Sarvraj Singh
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit
In office
1989–2008
Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
Minister of State (Programme Implementation and Statistics)
In office
18 November 2001 – 30 June 2002
Minister of State (Culture)
In office
1 September 2001 – 18 November 2001
Minister of State Social Justice and Empowerment
In office
13 October 1999 – 1 September 2001
Personal details
Born(1956-08-26)August 26, 1956
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s)Sanjay Gandhi (1974-1980)
ChildrenVarun Gandhi
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
ReligionSikhism[1][2]
As of 18 June, 2006
Source: Government of India
 
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Maneka Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Aonla
Incumbent
Assumed office
2009
Preceded byKunwar Sarvraj Singh
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit
In office
1989–2008
Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
Minister of State (Programme Implementation and Statistics)
In office
18 November 2001 – 30 June 2002
Minister of State (Culture)
In office
1 September 2001 – 18 November 2001
Minister of State Social Justice and Empowerment
In office
13 October 1999 – 1 September 2001
Personal details
Born(1956-08-26)August 26, 1956
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s)Sanjay Gandhi (1974-1980)
ChildrenVarun Gandhi
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
ReligionSikhism[1][2]
As of 18 June, 2006
Source: Government of India

Maneka Gandhi (née Anand; born 26 August 1956, Delhi, India) is an Indian politician, animal rights activist, environmentalist, former model and widow of the Indian politician, Sanjay Gandhi. She has been a minister in four governments, and has authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal welfare. Maneka Gandhi is member of the Nehru-Gandhi Political Clan.

Contents

Early life

Maneka Gandhi was born in a Sikh family to Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand and Amteshwar Anand. She was born in Delhi and educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar[citation needed] and later at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi where she earned an ISC. Subsequently, she studied German at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.[3] Maneka married Sanjay Gandhi, the son of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 23 September 1974.[4]

Sanjay and Maneka lived with Indira Gandhi and Sanjay grew increasingly involved in Indian politics as part of the Youth Congress. Maneka often accompanied him on his travels. She was also the Founder Editor of Surya, a political news monthly. When the Congress party was defeated in 1977, Maneka turned the magazine into a platform to promote and defend the Congress party, her husband and mother-in-law. Surya magazine carried regular interviews with Indira Gandhi, and was instrumental in refurbishing her image. Maneka accompanied Indira Gandhi to Chikmagalur from where Indira was re-elected. Dom Moraes who covered that visit remarked on the junior Mrs Gandhi’s lively intelligence and charisma. Khushwant Singh once likened Maneka to +‘Durga’.

During the period between 1977–1980, Sanjay was ruthlessly hounded and often jailed by the new Government. It even sought to impound Maneka’s passport against which she went to court and won a landmark decision on personal liberty. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India,[3] of 1979, 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."

With Maneka by his side, Sanjay led the Congress party back to power within just three years. A son was born to the couple that same year, 1980. Sanjay named the child Feroze after his own father. Indira added the name Varun. Maneka was just 23 years and her son, just 100 days old, when Sanjay died in an air crash. [5] In March 1983,after falling out with her mother-in-law, Maneka founded her own political party, the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch which focused on youth empowerment and employment. The Manch won 4 out of the first 5 seats it contested—in the state elections of Andhra Pradesh.

Maneka filed her own nomination from her husband’s seat, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, and the election campaign of 1984 was in full swing when her mother in law, Indira was assassinated by her own bodyguards. Maneka condemned the assassination as a "frightening act of violence".She called for an independent commission to probe the assassination composed of "eminent persons with a reputation for honesty and fearlessness who have no political connection".

Riding the massive sympathy wave in the ensuing elections, Rajiv Gandhi defeated Maneka in Amethi and became Prime Minister.

In 1988, Maneka merged the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch with the main opposition party, the Janata Dal and became its General Secretary. The party won the general elections and at 33, Maneka Gandhi became India’s youngest Minister. As Minister of Environment & Forests in two successive governments, Maneka introduced a number of historic legislations including the Coastal Zone Regulation Act and The Public Liability Act for Hazardous Chemicals. She also created the National Zoo Authority to regulate zoos, set up Environmental Tribunals, notified protection for old monuments as Heritage sites, introduced testing and controls for vehicular pollution, devised the comparative testing scheme Eco-Mark for environmentally friendly products, formed the Vivisection Regulatory Committee to eliminate duplicative animal research, and set up the Animal Welfare Board of India. She negotiated the Montreal Protocol on behalf of the Government of India and introduced the ‘polluter pays’ concept.[citation needed]

Contesting as an Independent candidate from Pilibhit, Maneka was re-elected in 1996 and again in 1998 with among the highest margins of victory in the country.

She was the Minister for Environment and Forests from 1989-91, and the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment from 1998-99. In 1999, Maneka lent support to the BJP India’s leading opposition party led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The party was elected to power and Maneka became Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. Here she played a historic role in the Indian pension reforms effort, through the early phase of Project OASIS. OASIS is an acronym for Old Age Social and Income Security. Maneka Gandhi played a key role in the initiation and early thinking on this scheme, going up to the point where it was transferred to the Ministry of Finance for implementation. This went on to become the celebrated New Pension System (NPS) which was implemented for new recruits into the central government from 2004 onwards. She also restructured the Rehabilitation Council of India, simplified the adoption laws, initiated a helpline for street children, funded the first disability hospitals in the country, initiated a national network of outlets for tribal products, funded training facilities for retired armed forces personnel and put together an $11 million rehabilitation programme for the disabled.

She was instrumental in creating India’s Animal Welfare Ministry—a first in the world, and serving as its first Minister. As Minister for Animal Welfare, she banned the use of bears, primates and big cats in public performances, designed an Animal Welfare Institute to impart training in the field, and made it mandatory for food and cosmetics to be labeled veg and non veg (green and brown dots) depending on their ingredients.

Maneka Gandhi was subsequently Minister for Culture and Minister for Programme Implementation.

In 2004, Maneka joined the BJP and again contested and won from Pilibhit. She has won 5 out of the 6 times she has contested from Pilibhit. This is a measure of her enormous personal popularity in the region attributed to her assiduously nurturing the constituency.

In 2009, Maneka fought and won from neighbouring Aonla while her son, Varun Gandhi fought and won from Pilibhit.

As a six term Member of Parliament, Maneka Gandhi is among the most senior legislators of India. She is currently Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Govt. Assurances.

Environmental activism

Maneka Gandhi is a self-described environmentalist and animal rights leader in India.[6] She has earned international awards and acclaim.[7] 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.

She has filed Public Interest Litigations that have achieved the replacement of the municipal killing of homeless dogs with a sterilization programme, the unregulated sale of airguns and a ban on mobile or traveling 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.

She started the organisation People for Animals[8] in 1992 and it is the largest organisation for animal rights/welfare in India. Maneka Gandhi is also a patron of International Animal Rescue. She is a vegan[9] and has advocated this lifestyle on ethical and health grounds. She also anchored a weekly Television program named "Heads and Tails" highlighting sufferings 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.[10]

She is Chairperson of Rugmark which works to rehabilitate children in the carpet trade. Rugmark has won awards for rescuing the maximum number of bonded child labour.

Career in journalism

As a journalist, Maneka Gandhi made headlines for her shocking publication in Surya Magazine of photos showing sexual intercourse between Suresh Ram (son of the then Defence Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram) and Sushma Chaudhury, a University of Delhi student.[11] Her daring publication of the photos ran the risk of violation of obscenity laws. The revealing pictures[12] were published apparently to discredit Jagjivan Ram, who defected from the Indira Gandhi government and helped bring Janata Party to power in 1977. He was one of the contenders for the post of Prime Minister of India.[13]

Positions held

Awards

See also

References

  1. ^ Kaul, Vivek (4 April 2009). "Varun Gandhi is one-fourth Hindu". DNA. http://www.dnaindia.com/blogs/post.php?postid=116. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "Radical Sikh outfit writes to Maneka on Varun's remarks". Central Chronicle. http://www.centralchronicle.com/viewnews.asp?articleID=3529. Retrieved 2009-03-27. "The organisation has described as absurd Ms Gandhi's statement that she was proud of being a Sikh and Sikhism was founded to defend Hindus and that there was hardly any difference between a Sikh and a Hindu." 
  3. ^ St. Josephs News Press. 29 July 1974. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=YJ5eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V1MNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5763,5470655. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Singh, Kushwant (10 February 2002). "Mrs. G, Maneka and the Anands". The Tribune. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020210/spectrum/book5.htm. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Basu, Arundhati. "Art of commitment". http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050806/asp/weekend/story_5061896.asp. 
  6. ^ Biographical Sketch
  7. ^ See, e.g., Gandhi's MP "Biographical Sketch" 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."
  8. ^ People For Animals - India's largest Animal welfare organization by Maneka Gandhi
  9. ^ Will we have a night safari? Interview
  10. ^ A Delicate Balance Cast
  11. ^ Maneka centrespreads sex romp
  12. ^ Sexually explicit photos showing Suresh Ram and Sushma Chaudhary in compromising positions.
  13. ^ A tale of sex and politics!
  14. ^ "Award for Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 24 November 2010. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/article908558.ece. 
  15. ^ MYLAPORE TIMES » Animal welfare award for Maneka Gandhi
  16. ^ India News - News from India, Latest India News, Online India News Headlines


External links