Maneka Gandhi

Maneka Gandhi
Minister of Women and Child Development
In office
26 May 2014 – 24 May 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byKrishna Tirath
Succeeded bySmriti Irani
Member of Parliament
Assumed office
23 May 2019
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
In office
Preceded byVarun Gandhi
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
In office
Preceded bySarvraj Singh
Succeeded byDharmendra Kashyap
In office
Preceded byParshuram Gangwar
Succeeded byVarun Gandhi
In office
Preceded byBhanu Pratap Singh
Succeeded byParshuram Gangwar
Minister of State for Programme Implementation and Statistics (Independent Charge)
In office
18 November 2001 – 30 June 2002
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge)
In office
1 September 2001 – 18 November 2001
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
In office
13 October 1999 – 1 September 2001
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Personal details
Maneka Anand

(1956-08-26) 26 August 1956 (age 63)
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Other political
Janata Dal (1988-1998) Independent (1998-2004)
Sanjay Gandhi
(m. 1974; died 1980)
RelationsSee Nehru–Gandhi family
ChildrenVarun Gandhi
OccupationPolitician, animal-rights activist
As of 27 May, 2014
Source: Government of India

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi (also spelled Menaka) (née Anand; born 26 August 1956) is an Indian politician. She is a member of Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament. She belongs to Bharatiya Janata Party. She is also an animal rights activist, environmentalist, and wife of the 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, and has authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal welfare.

Personal life[edit]

Maneka was born in Delhi into a Sikh family. Her father was Indian Army officer Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand and her mother was Amteshwar Anand. She went to Lawrence School and later Lady Shri Ram College for Women.[1][2] She subsequently studied German at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.[3]

She first met Sanjay Gandhi at a cocktail party thrown by Maneka's uncle Major-General Kapur to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of his son Veenu Kapur in 1973. Maneka eventually married Sanjay, the son of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi one year later on 23 September 1974.[4]

The Emergency 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 Gandhi had total control over his mother and that the government was run by the PMH (Prime Minister House) rather than the PMO (Prime Minister Office).[5][6][7]

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.

She 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,[8] 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."

She gave birth to a son in 1980 named Feroze after his paternal grandfather. Her mother-in-law added the name Varun. Maneka was just twenty-three years old and her son just 100 days old, when her husband, Sanjay, died in an air crash.[9]

Early life and career[edit]

Maneka's relationship with Indira Gandhi gradually disintegrated after Sanjay's death and they would continually argue with one another. She was eventually forced out of 1, Safdarjung Road, the prime minister's residence after a fallout with Indira.[2] She founded the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch along with Akbar Ahmed Dumpy. The party primarily focused on youth empowerment and employment. It won four out of five seats in the Elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Maneka Gandhi published 'The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names', in recognition of her husband's Zoroastrian faith.[10][11]

She later published 'The Book of Hindu Names' (Penguin).

Maneka Gandhi contested the Amethi constituency from Uttar Pradesh for the 1984 general election for the Loksabha but lost to Rajiv Gandhi. In 1988, she joined V.P. Singh's Janata Dal and became the General Secretary. In November 1989 Gandhi won her first election to Parliament and became a Minister of State as the Minister for Environment.[12]


Maneka Gandhi is a self-described environmentalist and animal rights leader in India.[13] She has earned international awards and acclaim.[14] 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.[15][16]

She has filed Public Interest Litigations that have achieved the replacement of the municipal killing of homeless dogs with a sterilisation programme, 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.

She started the organisation People for Animals[17] in 1992 and it is the largest organisation for animal rights/welfare in India. Maneka Gandhi is also a patron of International Animal Rescue. While she is not a vegan,[18] 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.[19]


Gandhi has often been criticized for her comments. 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.[20] 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.[21]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1984 - Lost to Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) over 2.7L votes, was contesting as an Independent Candidate
  • 1989-91 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Janata Dal party ticket
  • 1991 - Lost as Janata Dal candidate to BJP's Parashuram in Pilibhit
  • 1996-98 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Janata Dal party ticket
  • 1998-99 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected as an Independent Candidate
  • 1999-2004 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected as an Independent Candidate
  • 2004-09 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2009-14 - Member of Lok Sabha from Aonla (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2014-19 - Member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket
  • 2019–present - Member of Lok Sabha from Sultanpur (Lok Sabha constituency), elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.

Positions held[edit]

  • 1988–89 – General-Secretary, Janata Dal (J.D.)
  • 1989–91 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests
  • January–April 1990 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Programme Implementation
  • 1996–97 – Member, Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests
  • 1998–99 – Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • 13 October 1999 – 1 September 2001– Union Minister of State, Social Justice and Empowerment (Independent Charge)
  • 1 September 2001 – 18 November 2001 – Union Minister of State, Culture with additional charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge) Programme Implementation and Statistics with additional charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge)
  • 18 November 2001 – 30 June 2002 – Union Minister of State, Programme Implementation and Statistics with additional charge of Animal Care (Independent Charge)
  • 2002–2004 – Member, Committee on External Affairs
  • 2004 – Member, Committee on Health & Family Welfare, Member, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Environment and Forests
  • 5 August 2007 – onwards Member, Committee on Health & Family Welfare
  • 31 August 2009 – Became Member of Committee on Railways
  • 23 September 2009 – Chairperson, Committee on Government Assurances
  • 19 October 2009 – Member, General Purposes Committee
  • 26 May 2014 – Union Minister of Women & Child Development


  • Shining World Compassion Award along with a cheque for 20,000 dollars from Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association.[22]
  • Lord Erskine Award from the RSPCA, 1992
  • Environmentalist and Vegetarian of the year 1994
  • Prani Mitra Award, 1996
  • Maharana Mewar Foundation Award, 1996 for Environmental work
  • Marchig Animal Welfare and selling Prize, Switzerland, 1997
  • Venu Menon Animal Allies Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999
  • Bhagwan Mahaveer Foundation Award for Excellence in the sphere of Truth, Non-violence and Vegetarianism, 1999
  • Dewaliben Charitable Trust Award, 1999
  • International Women's Association Woman of the Year Award, Chennai, 2001
  • Dinanath Mangeshkar Aadishakti Puraskar in the field of Environment and animal welfare, 2001
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale Animal Welfare Award[23]
  • A.S.G. Jayakar award, 2008[24]
  • Human Achiever Award in field of Women Empowerment and Children Welfare by Mrs Caroline W/O Ambassador Of Namibia and Ms Sanorita Issac, founder & Chairperson, Human Achiever Foundation, India.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Model, Gandhi bahu, Modi's minister: Maneka's fight against dynasty". 27 May 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Exclusive extract from Khushwant Singhs autobiography".
  3. ^ "Mrs Gandhi's son to marry". St. Josephs News Press. 29 July 1974. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ Singh, Kushwant (10 February 2002). "Mrs. G, Maneka and the Anands". The Tribune. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Mystery Called Sanjay Gandhi". Scribd. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  6. ^ Express News Service (11 June 2013). "Emergency 'propagandist' who banned Kishore Kumar songs". Indian Express. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  7. ^ Dasgupta, Swapan (July 1985). "Sanjay Gandhi". Third World Quarterly. 7 (3): 731–778. doi:10.1080/01436598508419863.
  8. ^ "Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, 1978 AIR 597". Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  9. ^ Basu, Arundhati (6 August 2005). "Art of commitment". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India.
  10. ^ Gandhi, Maneka; Husain, Ozair (2 August 2017). "The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names". Penguin Books India. Retrieved 2 August 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Hinnells, John (28 April 2005), The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration, OUP Oxford, pp. 397–398, ISBN 978-0-19-826759-1
  12. ^ "At a glance: Maneka Gandhi- from a 'charming model' to 'union minister of India'".
  13. ^ "Biographical Sketch". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  14. ^ See, e.g., Gandhi's MP "Biographical Sketch" 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."
  15. ^ "PETA calls for end to equine exploitation in science". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Maneka Sanjay Gandhi |". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Article Window". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  19. ^ "The cast from A Delicate balance - the Truth". Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Men Do Not Commit Suicide, Says Minister Maneka Gandhi On Facebook". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Maneka Gandhi under fire for 'hormonal outbursts' remark". 7 March 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Award for Maneka Gandhi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 November 2010.
  23. ^ "MYLAPORE TIMES". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  24. ^ India News – News from India, Latest India News, Online India News Headlines Archived 19 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Bhanu Pratap Singh
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

1989 – 1991
Succeeded by
Parshuram Gangwar
Preceded by
Parshuram Gangwar
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

1996 – 2009
Succeeded by
Varun Gandhi
Preceded by
Sarvraj Singh
Member of Parliament
for Aonla

2009 – 2014
Succeeded by
Dharmendra Kashyap
Preceded by
Varun Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Pilibhit

2014 – 2019
Succeeded by
Varun Gandhi
Preceded by
Varun Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Sultanpur

2019 – Present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Krishna Tirath
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Minister of Women and Child Development
26 May 2014 – 2019
Succeeded by
Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani

External links[edit]

  • Profile at Lok Sabha, Parliament of India