Home » Political-Corner  » Women Governors in India

Women Governors in India

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2014 | Comment

Governors function as constitutional heads of states. Some political observers consider them to be the product of colonial legacy, and doubt their relevance in contemporary times. Although their place in the country’s governance is subject to debate, the Governors continue to find a place in Indian politics. What difference do women leaders make when they hold gubernatorial posts? Let’s find out.

Women Governors in India

First Woman Governor in India :  Sarojini Naidu

More than the title of the “First woman Governor of a state in free India”, what makes Sarojini Naidu an important name in Indian political history is the volume of work she did for the welfare of youth, women’s emancipation and dignity of labour. After Annie Besant, she was the second woman to become the president of the Indian National Congress. As a Governor of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (1947 – 1949), she had stepped into the role of a troubleshooter every time there was a political crisis in the state.

Women Governors in India post – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu’s daughter Padmaja Naidu was the next woman to take up this role few years later in 1956 when she was made the Governor of West Bengal. She became the longest-serving Governor with 11-year tenure.

A diplomat par excellence, Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit was the third woman governor in India. She served as the Governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964. It was a role that she played effortlessly by virtue of her having held posts of Indian Ambassador and High Commissioner. Much before she was appointed as a Governor, she had set the stage for women to accept bigger roles by becoming the first woman President of the UN General Assembly in 1953.

After a brief hiatus of 13 years, women could again be seen as Governors. In acknowledgement of her “contribution in the field of Public Affairs”, Jyothi Venkatachalam was appointed the Governor of Kerala in 1977. In the same year, Sharda Mukherjee became the governor of Andhra Pradesh. She was the first woman governor to have served two states –as she took charge of Gujarat in 1978. Much later, Rama Devi became the second woman to have served two states as a Governor – Himachal Pradesh from 1997-1999 and Karnataka 1999 – 2002.

Prabha Rau, a multi-faceted talent, also earned a similar distinction. She was the Governor of Rajasthan (2009-10) and Himachal Pradesh (2008-10). She was succeeded by Urmila Singh in Himachal Pradesh. As a first woman governor of Uttarakhand, Margaret Alva made her debut on 6 August 2009. She stayed in her post till May 2012, following which she was appointed the Governor of Rajasthan.

While distinguished women such as Kumudben Manishankar Joshi (Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 26 November 1985 to 7 February 1990) completed their 5-year term, others like Chandrawati, Ram Dulari Sinha and Sheila Kaul couldn’t do so. Dr. Rajendra Kumari Bajpai, also an ex-Union Minister, couldn’t hold on to her post for more than three years (May 1995 to April 1998). Her successor Rajani Rai stopped short of completing 5-year term, as the Governor of Pondicherry from 1998 to 2002. Kamala Beniwal held the post of Gujarat Governor from 27th November, 2009 to 6th July 2014. Even as her tenure was to end in a few months, she has been transferred to the post of Governor of Mizoram.

Women Governors in India who Donned Multiple Roles

Intellect, political acumen and administrative skills have enabled women governors to excel in other challenging roles. Sarla Grewal, for example, was also the second woman IAS officer in India before being the Governor of Madhya Pradesh (1989–1990). At the age of 41, she became the first woman Deputy Commissioner in India.

Fathima Beevi is another brilliant example of how women governors earlier held some of the highest ranks in judiciary and executive. Fathima was the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India appointed in 1989. She basked in the glory of her successful career before becoming the Governor of Tamil Nadu in 1997. Pratibha Patil, who remained the governor of Rajasthan from 2004 to 2007, served as the first woman President of India from 2007 to 2012. It is to be seen how Sheila Dikshit fares as the Governor of Kerala with media reports suggesting that the UPA-appointed governor (since March 2014) is facing the pressure to step down.

Thus, it is evident that despite the instances when the change in government also led to their removal for political reasons, women contributed their bit to the dignity of Governor’s office.