Ammu Swaminathan: One of the 15 dynamic women who helped draft the Constitution of India

Ammu Swaminathan was a political activist and social reformer who led reforms in Tamil Nadu. She was also a member of the committee for drafting the Indian Constitution

Ammu Swaminathan, a prominent figure in the Quit India Movement and the mother of renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and celebrated freedom fighter and Marxist Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan. Ammu was not only a social activist who worked towards improving the lives of women in Tamil Nadu but also a well known political leader of India.

Early Life
Ammu Swaminathan was born in 1894 to Govinda Menon and Anakkara Vadakath Ammuamma in Palakkad district of Kerala. The youngest of many kids, she lost her father at a young age and witnessed her mother  struggling to run the household. At 13, Ammu’s mother arranged her marriage with Dr Subbarama Swaminathan through the ‘Sambandam’ system that was popular in the area. Subbarama Swaminathan was 20 years elder to Ammu. He not only nurtured her, but also encouraged her talents.


Social work
Under his influence, Ammu became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and decided to participate in the Indian freedom struggle. Ammu was a strong woman who became actively participated in social work and politics in Tamil Nadu following her marriage with Subbarama. She founded the Madras chapter of the All India Women’s Conference.

Political career
She joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1934. From 1934 to 1939, Ammu was a member of the Madras Corporation. She actively participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was imprisoned for a year in Vellore jail. In 1945, she rose from the post of a counselor at the Madras Corporation to be an elected member of the Provisional Parliament of India. In 1946, she became one of the few women members of the committee set up to draft the Constitution of India.

ALSO READ: Kalpana Dutta: The freedom fighter who made bombs for revolutionaries

She remained active after independence and was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha from 1950 to 1957 and a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1957 to 1960. Ammu went to Russia (erstwhile USSR), China, USA, and Ethiopia as a goodwill ambassador and served as the President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides from 1960 to 1965. She passed away in 1978.

As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who were part of the Indian Independence Struggle. You might have heard about some of them but most do not find a mention in our history books or popular memory. These were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom. This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and valour over the next one week leading up to 15th August 2017. Write to us, if you have any names to add to this list. Email:

For interesting news videos from InUth, follow us on