Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
With an admirable track record of being an eight-term Member of Parliament, Ms Maneka Gandhi adds another significant milestone in her illustrious political career – that of being India’s senior-most Parliamentarian. A veteran politician, who has adeptly navigated the Indian political system, to build a formidable reputation as an astute legislator and administrator.
Role As WCD Minister:
An impressive performance in public service becomes distinctly apparent from the series of progressive legislation introduced by Ms Gandhi during her successful tenure as Union Minister for Women & Child Development. She substantially contributed to the evolving narrative of gender politics in India by championing an extended maternity leave of 26 weeks for working women, including the provision of 12 weeks leave for adopting mothers and commissioning mothers, through the introduction of The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017. Under her leadership, the Women & Child Development Ministry worked towards making the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, 2012 more effective by removing the time limit for reporting child sexual offences, thereby empowering victims of sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice. A comprehensive campaign against female infanticide and gender discrimination was also launched by Ms Gandhi through Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.
She founded People For Animals in 1992. Under her tutelage, the organization has emerged as the largest animal welfare organization of the country with more than 35 shelters situated across India. Spurred by People For Animals’ success in courts, Ms Gandhi directed the organization to engage in the strategy of training and sensitizing judicial magistrates and police personnel about animal welfare laws in India. This has resulted in a widening pool of law enforcers aware of the legal course of action to undertake in order to make animal welfare laws more effective on the ground. Through the efforts of the organization, the Bar Council of India has now introduced ‘animal law’ in the syllabuses of law colleges.
Multifaceted Roles & Accomplishments
Ms Gandhi’s stalwart contribution in animal welfare has been a widely recognized the world over. She has received numerous awards from distinguished platforms: from the Rukmini Dev Arundale Animal Welfare Award in 2011 to Lord Erskine Award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1992, from the Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Prize in 1997 to the Venu Menon Animal Allies Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999; to list a few others – Prani Mitra Award (1996), Maharana Mewar Foundation Award For Environmental Work (1996), Bhagwan Mahaveer Foundation Award for Excellence in the sphere of Truth, Non-violence and Vegetarianism (1999), the Ahimsa and Sadbhawna Award (1999), Dewaliben Charitable Trust Award (1999), the International Women`s Association Woman of the Year Award (2001), Dinanath Mangeshkar Aadishakti Puraskar in the field of Environment and Animal Welfare (2001) etc. are all testimony to Ms Gandhi’s work as an animal welfare activist.
Ms Gandhi’s numerous editorial opinion pieces on animal welfare in leading national dailies are well – researched, engaging and informative and reflect great attention to detail. Her creative pursuits have also generated authorship over a number of books, reaching out to an eclectic audience of children and adults alike: Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Boys, The Penguin Book of Hindu Names for Girls, Heads & Tails, Brahma's Hair: The Mythology of Indian Plants, The Book of Trees: A Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam Perspective.
Ms Gandhi continues to nurture a legacy that is deeply entrenched in public service. She has her task cut out as she takes over the reins of a new constituency and endeavours to win the hearts of the people of Sultanpur. The mission to create inspiring benchmark standards in public service and animal welfare will always be defining hallmarks associated with the name of Maneka Gandhi.