Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was an Indian diplomat, politician, and a sister of India's first prime-minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.She was the first woman to become the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was born in Allahabad in what was then the United Provinces (later, Uttar Pradesh) on August 18, 1900, and was given the name Swarup Kumari ("Beautiful Princess") Nehru. She was the eldest daughter of a distinguished Brahmin lawyer, Motilal Nehru, and eleven years younger than her brother, Jawaharlal.Accustomed to luxury and educated at home and in Switzerland, she was greatly influenced by Mohandas Ghandi and became identified with the struggle for independence. She was imprisoned by the British on three different occasions, in 1932-1933, 1940, and 1942-1943.
In May 1921 she married Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, a foreign-educated barrister from Kathiawar. At that time she changed her name to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Her husband died on January 14, 1944.
She was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post. In 1937 she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. She held the latter post until 1939 and again from 1946 to 1947. In 1946 she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces.
Following India's independence from the British in 1947 she 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. Between 1946 and 1968, she headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations. In 1953, she became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.She served as governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964, after which she was elected to the Indian Lok Sabha from Phulpur, her brother's former constituency. She held office from 1964 to 1968.Vijayalakshmi Pandit was critical about her niece, Indira Gandhi. In fact, their relations were not very good.
When Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister in the year 1966, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit took retirement from active politics. After taking voluntary retirement, she went to the peaceful Dehradun city. In the year 1979, she was chosen as the representative of India to the UN Human Rights Commission. Thereafter, she went far away from public life. She had an interest in writing. Her writings consist of The Evolution of India (1958) and The Scope of Happiness: A Personal Memoir (1979). Vijaylakshmi Pandit died in the year 1990.