Margaret Alva
Margaret Alva (left) addressing a conference with Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee
17th Governor of Goa
In office
12 July 2014 – 7 August 2014
Preceded byBharat Vir Wanchoo
Succeeded byOm Prakash Kohli
23rd Governor of Gujarat
In office
7 July 2014 – 15 July 2014
Preceded byKamla Beniwal
Succeeded byOm Prakash Kohli
20th Governor of Rajasthan
In office
12 May 2012 – 5 August 2014
Preceded byShivraj Patil
Succeeded byRam Naik (Additional Charge)
4th Governor of Uttarakhand
In office
6 August 2009 – 14 May 2012
Preceded byBanwari Lal Joshi
Succeeded byAziz Qureshi
Member of Indian Parliament
In office
1999 - 2004
Preceded byAnant Kumar Hegde
Succeeded byAnant Kumar Hegde
Union Minister of State, Ministry of Personal, Public Grievances and Pensions
In office
1991 - 1996
Union Minister of State, Ministry Youth and Sports and Women and Child Development
In office
1985 - 1989
Union Minister of State, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
In office
1984 - 1985
In office
1993 - 1996
Member of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
1974 - 1998
Personal details
Born (1942-04-14) 14 April 1942 (age 79)
Mangalore, Madras Presidency, British India
(now in Karnataka, India)
Political partyIndian National Congress
Niranjan Alva
(m. 1964; died 2018)
Children3 son(s) and 1 daughter
Alma materMt. Carmel College and Government Law College, Bangalore

Margaret Alva (née Margaret Nazareth, born 14 April 1942) is an Indian politician who was the governor of the Indian state of Rajasthan until the end of her tenure in August 2014; she had previously been governor of Uttarakhand. She took over in Rajasthan from the Punjab governor, Shivraj Patil, who had been holding an additional charge of that state. Before being appointed governor, she was a senior figure in the Indian National Congress and was Joint Secretary of the All India Congress Committee. Her mother-in-law, Violet Alva, was a member of Rajya Sabha in 1960s.

Early life

Margaret Alva was born Margaret Nazareth on 14 April 1942[2] in a Christian family at Mangalore, Karnataka. She obtained a BA degree from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore and a law degree from Government Law College in the same city.[3] She was a keen and appreciated debater during her time at college and had some involvement in students' movements.[4]

Alva combined her work as an advocate with involvement in welfare organisations, eventually becoming president of the Young Women's Christian Association. One of her early involvements was with the Karuna non-governmental organisation, which she founded and which was focused on issues relating to women and children.[3][5]

She married Niranjan Thomas Alva on 24 May 1964, with whom she has one daughter and three sons, including Niret Alva.[6] The couple had met as students at Government Law College[4] and her husband now operates a successful export business, which has given her financial security that has been beneficial to her later career.[3]



Alva's decision to enter politics in 1969 was strongly influenced by her husband and father-in-law, Joachim Alva, the latter and his wife, Violet Alva, being Members of Parliament representing the Indian National Congress. She has acknowledged this encouragement, saying that "I never had to face any family constraints on my political activities" and she has also said that the death of Violet in 1969 provided the impetus. She aligned herself with the Congress (Indira) faction led by Indira Gandhi and worked for its state unit in Karnataka.[3][4] She served as Joint Secretary of the All India Congress Committee between 1975 and 1977 and as General Secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee between 1978 and 1980,[2]

Rajya Sabha

In April 1974, Alva had been elected to the Raiya Sabha as a representative of Congress. She served a six-year term and was then re-elected for a further three six-year terms, in 1980, 1986 and 1992. During her time in the Rajya Sabha, she was its vice-chairman (1983–85) and also served terms as Union Minister of State in the ministries for Parliamentary Affairs (1984–85) and for Youth and Sports and Women and Child Development, an arm of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. She also served on various House committees, which garnered her a considerable degree of procedural expertise,[3] and was briefly Minister for Science and Technology.[5]

In her HRD role, between 1985 and 1989,[7] Alva oversaw the Rajiv Gandhi-led government's 28-point plan intended to improve the rights and involvement of women and children. In addition, she made proposals for various development corporations for women, only some of which materialised, and also campaigned for a greater prominence of women in government and in her party's official posts. Her 1989 proposal that 33 per cent of seats in panchayat raj (local government) elections should be reserved for women became law in 1993 and, according to Laura Jenkins, "marked a further shift from the former abhorrence of reservations as a nationally divisive policy". She continued her efforts to improve the lot of women during her period as Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions and Parliamentary Affairs (1991 and 1993-96[7]), where she tried to increase the number of female officeholders in various ministries and government organisations, such as the Union Public Service Commission and the judiciary.[3][8]

Alva has also been involved with women's issues and related matters such as population growth on the international stage, notably through various United Nations bodies and in writings.[3][9]

Lok Sabha

Alva was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament in 1999 for the Uttara Kannada constituency, serving a five-year term.[7] She lost a subsequent re-election attempt in the 2004.[10] Between 2004 and 2009, she served as General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee and was an advisor to the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies & Training, a government body that works with newly elected parliamentary representatives at both national and state level.[5]


In November 2008, Alva said that Congress seats for the elections in Karnataka were open to bidders rather than subject to meritocratic appointment. Congress denied her claims and a meeting with the party president, Sonia Gandhi resulted in Alva resigning or being removed from her numerous official responsibilities in the party.[11] Subsequently, Alva patched up her differences with Congress leadership. She has declined to go into details of the 2008 controversy even as her resignation letter continues to be a subject of media speculation.[12]

On 6 August 2009, Alva became the first female Governor of Uttarakhand. Although she said then that she was enthusiastic about the challenges facing the nascent state, she found herself sidelined outside national politics and frustrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party state government. She remained in the post until May 2012, at which time she was appointed Governor of Rajasthan, which was a more important region in political terms. Of her time in Uttarakhand, Alva said that "The quietude allowed me to recharge my batteries and even spare some time for working on my biography". The autobiography is not expected to appear until after her retirement.[13][14][15]

The move to Rajasthan relieved Shivraj Patil, the Governor of Punjab, of his temporary adjunct responsibility for that state which had arisen due to the death of the incumbent governor, Prabha Rau, in April 2010.[16]


  1. ^ India, Press Trust of (7 April 2018). "Niranjan Thomas Alva passes away". Business Standard India.
  2. ^ a b "Rajya Sabha Members Biographical Sketches 1952 – 2003" (PDF). Rajya Sabha website.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Commonwealth Secretariat (1999). Women in Politics: Voices from the Commonwealth. Commonwealth Secretariat. pp. 75–77. ISBN 9780850925692.
  4. ^ a b c Vittal, Gita (2007). Reflections: Experiences of a Bureaucrat's Wife. Academic Foundation. pp. 68–69. ISBN 9788171884711.
  5. ^ a b c "Hon'ble Governor of Rajasthan: Smt. Margaret Alva". Government of Rajasthan. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Miditech moves on". Business Standard. 29 September 2004.
  7. ^ a b c "Governor of Rajasthan". Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  8. ^ Jenkins, Laura Dudley (1999). "Competing Inequalities: The Struggle Over Reserved Legislative Seats for Women in India". In Boris, Eileen; Janssens, Angelique (eds.). Complicating Categories: Gender, Class, Race and Ethnicity. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 9780521786416.
  9. ^ Alva, Margaret (2012). "India". In Graham, Kennedy (ed.). The Planetary Interest. Routledge. pp. 12, 208. ISBN 9781135358204.
  10. ^ "Margaret Alva to be Uttarakhand governor". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Cong cuts Alva down to size". The Statesman. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  12. ^ "My book will reveal why I quit the AICC: Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva". India Today. Living Media India Limited. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Alva sworn in Uttarakhand Governor". The Hindu. 7 August 2009. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Wanchoo for Goa, Alva for Rajasthan". The Telegraph. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  15. ^ Sharma, Neena (10 May 2012). "Eventful stint that lent charm to Governor's post". The Tribune. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  16. ^ "Margaret Alva sworn in as Rajasthan Governor". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 12 May 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2014.