Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi recently proposed banning of cow and buffalo slaughter all across the country. As the citizens of India vent and criticize Gandhi and her proposal on social media, we tell you why you might be judging her too soon.
Born to a Sikh family in Delhi, she was married to Sanjay Gandhi at an early age. During his short life, Maneka accompanied her husband on tours and visits but it was after his death that Maneka truly showed all that she was capable of. Here are 5 defining moments in Maneka Gandhi’s career:
1. She started editing and publishing political news monthly Surya in the 70’s.This was her first independent step in the world of politics. Maneka’s Surya especially made headlines after she published controversial pictures son of the then Defence Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram with a Delhi University student. The magazine also proved highly beneficial for Indira Gandhi’s career as it helped her refurbish her image.
2. After her husband and politician Sanjay Gandhi’s death and a falling out with Indira Gandhi, Maneka founded a political party, the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch, focusing on youth empowerment and employment and ended up winning 4 out of the first 5 seats contested by the party at their first attempt. After merging her party with Janata Dal, she was elected as it general secretary, consequentially becoming India’s youngest minister at the age of 33.
3. Being elected as the Minister of Environment & Forests, Gandhi transformed Coastal zone, Heritage sites preservation and Hazardous Chemicals laws. As Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, she played a significant role in changing the Indian pension reforms.
4. Her best work by far has been in the field of Animal welfare. Prior to Maneka’s intervention, laws protecting our speechless friends were extremely limited. Gandhi created the National Zoo Authority and set up the Animal Welfare Board of India. She later played a major role in the creation of the world’s first, India’s Animal Welfare Ministry. As the head of this ministry, she banned the use of bears, primates and big cats in public performances. She also worked against the municipal killings of homeless dogs.
5.In May, 2014, Gandhi was appointed as the Union Minister of Women & Child Development- a cause she has been working on for a while now. As a representative, she also spoke about the gender disparity issue at the Beijing +20 Review conference last year.
A lot of people feel that she is an aggressive minister and find some of her proposals and decisions less than rational. But she is someone who has been standing and speaking up for those who either cannot stand up for themselves or those whose voices aren’t heard. In this aspect, Maneka Gandhi is one of the most inspiring women leaders in our country.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: New Indian Express]
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