Rajkumari Amrit Kaur fought for the freedom of country and emancipation of people in Punjab. Many women actively participated in the freedom movement but there were a very few princess or queens who lead from the front in the fight to attain freedom for India.
She travelled throughout the country to propagate the message of freedom and communal harmony. Kaur believed that all religions preached love for fellow beings.
Also read: 70 WOMEN FREEDOM FIGHTERS OF INDIA
Amrit Kumar was born in 1889 as the daughter of Raja Harnam Singh and Rani Harman Singh. She was sent to England to pursue her education when she was 12 and returned to India when she was 20, without completing her education at Oxford.
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Kaur was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his principles when she heard him address the Indian National Congress at Bombay (now Mumbai). She also stayed with him for a month at Sevagram, where she was given a small room. Kaur helped Gandhi with secretarial work.
Role in freedom movement
Her father enjoyed the confidence of many INC party leaders, including Gopal Krishna Gokhale. After her return to India, she got interested in the freedom movement and felt drawn to Gandhian thoughts and his vision for the country.
After Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Kaur realised the importance of gaining freedom from the British Raj. She joined the INC and began to participate in India’s struggle for freedom as well as contributed to social reform activities in India.
She co-founded the All India Women’s Conference in 1927, became its secretary in 1930, and president in 1933. British Raj authorities finally imprisoned her for her participation in Dandi March in 1930.
As a representative of the INC, in 1937 she went on a mission of goodwill to Bannu, in the present day Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The British Raj authorities charged her with sedition and imprisoned her.
In 1942, she participated in the Quit India Movement and got imprisoned her again.
Life after independence
After independence, Amrit Kaur became the first woman to hold Cabinet rank. In 1950, she was elected as the president of World Health Assembly, becoming the first woman and the first Asian to hold that post.
Kaur was a strong moving force behind the establishment of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, and became its first president.
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Kaur also served as the Chairperson of the Indian Red Cross society for fourteen years.
Active politics and death
From 1957 until her death in 1964, she remained a member of Rajya Sabha. Until her death, she continued to be the President of the AIIMS, the Tuberculosis Association of India, and the St. John’s Ambulance Corps.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org