Maneka Gandhi
Gandhi in 2014
Minister of Women and Child Development, Government Of India
In office
26 May 2014 (2014-05-26) – 24 May 2019 (2019-05-24)
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byKrishna Tirath
Succeeded bySmriti Irani
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Assumed office
23 May 2019 (2019-05-23)
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
ConstituencySultanpur
In office
2014 (2014)–2019 (2019)
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
ConstituencyPilibhit
In office
2009 (2009)–2014 (2014)
Preceded bySarvraj Singh
Succeeded byDharmendra Kashyap
ConstituencyAonla
In office
1996 (1996)–2009 (2009)
Preceded byParshuram Gangwar
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
ConstituencyPilibhit
In office
1989 (1989)–1991 (1991)
Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh
Succeeded byParshuram Gangwar
ConstituencyPilibhit
Minister of State for Programme Implementation and Statistics (Independent Charge), Government Of India
In office
18 November 2001 (2001-11-18) – 30 June 2002 (2002-06-30)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
In office
January 1990 – April 1990
Prime MinisterVishwanath Pratap Singh
Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Government Of India
In office
1 September 2001 (2001-09-01) – 18 November 2001 (2001-11-18)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government Of India
In office
13 October 1999 (1999-10-13) – 1 September 2001 (2001-09-01)
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests, Government Of India
In office
December 1989 – June 1991
Prime MinisterVishwanath Pratap Singh
Chandra Shekhar
Dean of the 17th Lok Sabha[1]
In office
2019 (2019)–present (present)
Preceded bySomnath Chatterjee (2009)
Personal details
Born
Maneka Anand

(1956-08-26) 26 August 1956 (age 67)
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Other political
affiliations
Spouse
(m. 1974; died 1980)
ChildrenVarun Gandhi
RelativesSee Nehru–Gandhi family
Occupation
  • Politician
  • Animal-rights activist
As of 27 May, 2014
Source: Government of India

Maneka Gandhi (also spelled Menaka; née Anand) (born 26 August 1956) is an Indian politician, animal rights activist, and environmentalist. She is a member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She is the widow of Indian politician Sanjay Gandhi. She has been a minister in four governments, most recently in Narendra Modi's government from May 2014 to May 2019.

She also authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal rights.

Personal life

Maneka Anand was born on 26 August 1956 in Delhi, India into a Sikh family. Her father was an Indian Army officer Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand and her mother was Amardeep Kaur Anand, daughter of Sir Datar Singh. She was educated at The Lawrence School, Sanawar[2] and later at Lady Shri Ram College for Women.[3][4] She subsequently studied German at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.[5]

Maneka first met Sanjay Gandhi in 1973 at a cocktail party thrown by her uncle, Major-General Kapur, to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of his son. Maneka married Gandhi, the son of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, one year later on 23 September 1974.[6]

The Emergency of 1975–77 saw the rise of Sanjay into politics and Maneka was seen with him almost every time on his tours as she helped him in campaigns. It is often said that during the Emergency, Sanjay had total control over his mother (Indira) and that the government was run by the PMH (Prime Minister House) rather than the PMO (Prime Minister Office).[7][8][9]

Maneka Gandhi founded the news magazine Surya which later played a key role in promotion of the Congress party after its defeat in the 1977 election following the Emergency.

Gandhi went to court to fight an attempt by the government in power at the time to confiscate her passport and won a landmark decision on personal liberty. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India,[10] 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."

In 1980, Gandhi gave birth to a son, Feroze, named after his paternal grandfather. Her mother-in-law added the name Varun. Gandhi was just twenty-three years old, and her son just 100 days old, when her husband died in an air crash.[11]

Early life and career

Maneka's relationship with Indira Gandhi gradually disintegrated after Sanjay's death and they would continually argue with one another. Maneka was eventually forced out of 1, Safdarjung Road, the prime minister's residence, after a fallout with Indira.[4] On 3 April 1983, she founded the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch along with Akbar Ahmad.[12] The party primarily focused on youth empowerment and employment. It won four out of five seats in the Elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Gandhi published The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names, in recognition of her husband's Zoroastrian faith.[13][14]

She later published The Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Boys.[15]

Gandhi contested the Amethi constituency from Uttar Pradesh for the 1984 general election for the Lok Sabha, but lost to Rajiv Gandhi. In 1988, she joined V. P. Singh's Janata Dal Party and became the General Secretary. In the 1989 Indian general election, Gandhi won her first election to Parliament and became a Minister of State as the Minister for Environment.[16]

Activism

Gandhi is an environmentalist and animal rights leader in India.[17] She has earned international awards and acclaim.[18] 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.[19]

In 1996, Gandhi protested the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in India. Justifying her protest, she stated that "we don't need cow killers in India".[20]

Gandhi has filed Public Interest Litigations that have achieved the replacement of the municipal killing of homeless dogs with a sterilisation programme (Animal Birth Control programs, commonly abbreviated as ABCs), the unregulated sale of airguns and a ban on mobile or travelling 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.

Gandhi started the organisation People for Animals[21] in 1992 and it is the largest organisation for animal rights/welfare in India. Gandhi is also a patron of International Animal Rescue. She is vegan[22] and she has advocated this lifestyle on ethical and health grounds. She also anchored the weekly television program Heads and Tails, highlighting the suffering 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.[23]

In September 2023, Maneka Gandhi came out in support of Saving Dol Ka Badh forest in Jaipur. And wrote a letter to chief secretary of Rajasthan giving examples of how and why the forest should be protected.[24]

Criticism

Gandhi has often been criticized for her comments.

Threatening a veterinarian over phone

In June 2021, she called a veterinarian, threatening to cancel his license for an allegedly botched up amputation surgery of a dog. Despite a veterinarian was trying to make her aware of the situation that he has exercised all due care during surgery and it was a ferocious dog which had torn-up bandages and surgical wounds after surgery, she hurled abusive and unparliamentary words. The call was recorded and was made viral on social media. All veterinary associations have condemned and protested her behavior.[25]

Male Suicide Views

In June 2017, during a Facebook Live session, she commented that men do not commit suicide. She received negative responses to the comment and spent the rest of the chat answering questions related to this, with chatters pointing out that 68% of the suicide cases reported in India were committed by men.[26]

False Harassment Threat

In January 2021, Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj came forward with an audio tape where Maneka Gandhi was allegedly berating a man for hitting a dog, and was threatening to file sexual harassment cases against him. The man on the tape claimed that it was in self defense, as the dog had bitten his daughter.[27][28]

Curfew for Women

In March 2017, she said that an early curfew for girls in hostels helped young women control their "hormonal outbursts" and received a backlash for the comment.[29]

Views on Marital Rape

In 2016, she stated that she was against the criminalization of marital rape and received a heavy backlash for the comment.[30][31]

Alleged spread of hatred against Muslims

Police in Kerala booked Gandhi the basis of complaints against her for promoting hatred by levelling accusations coated with communal overtones for a death of a pregnant elephant, against residents in the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram in June 2020. While the elephant died in Mannarcad, Palakkad district, nearly 90 km from Malappuram, BJP leaders including Gandhi targeted the only Muslim-majority district of Kerala.[32][33] She said: “It’s a murder. Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300–400 birds & dogs die at one time”.[34][35] [36] She was charged with adding communal color to an animal-related issue that would otherwise be constrained within the Department of Forests.[37] A group calling themselves Kerala Cyber Warriors briefly hacked Maneka Gandhi's website, People for Animals, India.[38][39]

Electoral history

Positions held

In popular culture

Gandhi hosted Maneka's Ark, an environmental talk show which aired on the Indian national public broadcaster Doorarshan's DD National channel in the 1990s.[40][41] She had earlier hosted Heads & Tails, an animal rights show, on the same channel.[41]

Awards

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Books

See also

References

  1. ^ https://indianexpress.com/article/political-pulse/maneka-gandhi-bjp-sultanpur-ram-temple-muslim-vote-9343294/
  2. ^ "Members : Lok Sabha". loksabhaph.nic.in.
  3. ^ "Model, Gandhi bahu, Modi's minister: Maneka's fight against dynasty". Firstpost.com. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Exclusive extract from Khushwant Singhs autobiography".
  5. ^ "Mrs Gandhi's son to marry". St. Josephs News Press. 29 July 1974. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  6. ^ Singh, Kushwant (10 February 2002). "Mrs. G, Maneka and the Anands". The Tribune. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Mystery Called Sanjay Gandhi". Scribd. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  8. ^ Express News Service (11 June 2013). "Emergency 'propagandist' who banned Kishore Kumar songs". Indian Express. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  9. ^ Dasgupta, Swapan (July 1985). "Sanjay Gandhi". Third World Quarterly. 7 (3): 731–778. doi:10.1080/01436598508419863.
  10. ^ "Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, 1978 AIR 597". Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  11. ^ Basu, Arundhati (6 August 2005). "Art of commitment". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012.
  12. ^ "April 4, 1983, Forty Years Ago: Rasta Roko Protest". The Indian Express. 4 April 2023. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  13. ^ Gandhi, Maneka; Husain, Ozair (2 August 2017). The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780143031840. Retrieved 2 August 2017 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Hinnells, John (28 April 2005), The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration, OUP Oxford, pp. 397–398, ISBN 978-0-19-826759-1
  15. ^ Gandhi, Maneka (2004). The Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Boys. New Delhi: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-303168-0. OCLC 60391724.
  16. ^ "At a glance: Maneka Gandhi- from a 'charming model' to 'union minister of India'". 7 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Biographical Sketch". Parliamentofindia.nic.in. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  18. ^ See, e.g., Gandhi's MP "Biographical Sketch Archived 1 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine" 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."
  19. ^ "Maneka Sanjay Gandhi". Sachbharat.in. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  20. ^ "IT'S LAMB BURGER, NOT HAMBURGER, AT BEEFLESS MCDONALD'S IN NEW DELHI". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  21. ^ "PEOPLE FOR ANIMALS". peopleforanimalsindia.org.
  22. ^ Maneka Gandhi On Veganism | वीगनवाद पर मेनका गांधी Hindi | India. Retrieved 12 May 2024 – via www.youtube.com.
  23. ^ "The cast from A Delicate balance – the Truth". adelicatebalance.com.au. Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  24. ^ https://twitter.com/8PMnoCM/status/1699665136867549448
  25. ^ "Agra Vet Alleges Maneka Gandhi Abused Him in Call, Colleagues Protest".
  26. ^ "Men Do Not Commit Suicide, Says Minister Maneka Gandhi On Facebook". Ndtv.com. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Conversation between Maneka Gandhi, businessman goes viral over treatment of animals". The New Indian Express. 6 January 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  28. ^ IANS (6 January 2021). "Will have you booked in sexual harassment case: Maneka Gandhi to businessman accused of hitting stray dog". National Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  29. ^ "Maneka Gandhi under fire for 'hormonal outbursts' remark". Hindustantimes.com. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  30. ^ Sen, Rajyasree (14 March 2016). "Maneka Gandhi tells us marital rape isn't rape after all". mint. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  31. ^ "Marital rape cannot be criminalised in India, says Maneka Gandhi". India Today. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  32. ^ Rakesh, K.M. (6 June 2020). "Maneka Gandhi booked for jumbo hate drive". Telegraph India. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Factually speaking: Maneka Gandhi's claims on Kerala elephants, Malappuram crime rate are baseless – News Analysis News".
  34. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (5 June 2020). "Killing of elephant with explosive-laden fruit causes outrage in India". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  35. ^ Sebastian, Meryl (4 June 2020). "How The Kerala Elephant Death Got Communalised Thanks To Maneka Gandhi". HuffPost India. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  36. ^ N, Smitha (4 June 2020). "Communal colour added to pregnant elephant's death in Kerala". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  37. ^ "Case filed against Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  38. ^ "People for Animals website hacked". The Hindu. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  39. ^ "Fact Check: All Fake News Linked to Killing of Pregnant Elephant in Kerala Debunked". The Quint. 6 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  40. ^ "Maneka's motives, BJP's 'mission'!". Rediff. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  41. ^ a b "Television « Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd". Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  42. ^ "Award for Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 November 2010.
  43. ^ "MYLAPORE TIMES". Mylaporetimes.com. February 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  44. ^ India News – News from India, Latest India News, Online India News Headlines Archived 19 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
Lok Sabha Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh Member of Parliamentfor Pilibhit 1989–1991 Succeeded byParshuram Gangwar Preceded byParshuram Gangwar Member of Parliamentfor Pilibhit 1996–2009 Succeeded byVarun Gandhi Preceded bySarvraj Singh Member of Parliamentfor Aonla 2009–2014 Succeeded byDharmendra Kashyap Preceded byVarun Gandhi Member of Parliamentfor Pilibhit 2014–2019 Succeeded byVarun Gandhi Preceded byVarun Gandhi Member of Parliamentfor Sultanpur 2019 – Present Succeeded byIncumbent Political offices Preceded byKrishna TirathMinister of State (Independent Charge) Minister of Women and Child Development 26 May 2014 – 2019 Succeeded bySmriti Zubin Irani