The Pioneering Life of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit


Manu Bhagavan and Ellen Chesler discuss Bhagavan’s latest book on Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (Penguin, 2023), admired sister of India’s founding Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and a pioneering public servant, diplomat, and women's rights advocate, in her own right. They talk about the Nehru’s privileged upbringing and elite education, their conversion to a Gandhi inspired ascetism, the hardships of repeated jail sentences during the struggle against British colonialism, as well as the many influences on Pandit’s feminist consciousness, including early western role models like Annie Besant and Margaret Sanger.

Their conversation highlights the critical role of the All-India Women's Conference chaired by Pandit in advancing popular critiques of colonialism and inspiring confidence that the country could transition peacefully and move forward successfully on its own. They also discuss Pandit’s impressive diplomatic career after World War II, when she served in many foreign posts, became the first woman president of the UN General Assembly, and was celebrated globally.

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International Horizons

International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes.

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