Hello friends, today I am here to share the biography of a great patriot and politician. She was also first appointed as Health Minister of India in 1947. She was none other than Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. She was the princess of the princely state of Kapurthala.
Introduction to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
Legends are made by the past and not the present. The world has hosted great people and influential personalities who, in one way or the other, changed the world or the people around them. Most of these legends mostly go uncredited, and it’s not fair.
Legends ought to be celebrated and not forgotten. And that’s why I bring the interesting life story of one of the most prominent women in the pre-colonial and post-colonial era, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.
She was an activist who was always advocating for the struggle for freedom. She believed human beings had a better life with freedom and swore never to quit the fight.
Who is Rajkumari Amrit Kaur?
Rajkumari happens to be one of the women who participated in the struggle for Indian freedom and independence. She remains among the bravest women India has ever hosted.
Rajkumari came from one of Punjab’s ruling families, the Kapurthala Family. Even though she was born in India, she moved to India. At some point, she got to interact with Gandhi, which changed her life.
Gandhi’s Messages got her attention, and she fell in love with his words, vision and ideas. In 1919, she made a lifetime decision of getting into politics and thus began to commit herself to congress practices.
In 1930, she took part in the Satyagraha. She got so much into politics and patriotism that she participated in demonstrations and supported the Struggle for Independence movements. In 942, her rebellious vibe was on a higher level.
She caused a lot of chaos and constantly criticised the British. The British administration could not take her agitation anymore, so they put her in prison to tame her rebellious character.
After India gained its freedom, she assumed the position of the first-ever health minister in India. Since then, she decided to invest most of her energy in helping the needy, uplifting the women in society and the children. She was such a sweet soul and a rare personality. Her kindness and love for humanity were just amazing.
Rajkumari founded the All India Women Conference with the aid of a few other dignitaries. Also, she single-handedly founded and established the ICCW (Indian Council of Child Welfare), and also administered it as well. She additionally took part in the formation and launching of the Indian Red Cross.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Husband
Kaur, a unique person in her way did not marry and thus died childless. No one knows the reasons behind her decision of staying single.
She grew up with the character of sticking to her stand no matter what. So, it happened she wasn’t much interested in marriage and so decided to stay single for the rest of her life.
Her reasons for not getting married are still not revealed. However, it is believed that her passion for politics and activism could not allow her to be restrained by marriage rules.
She wanted to have enough time to concentrate on serving the nation and pushing for the struggle for freedom. Kaur more emphasized her passion for serving humanity, which she loved doing.
The only people living from her bloodline are her brothers’ descendants. Some of these descendants live in London, while others live in India.
So, we can always say that Kaur was married to politics and patriotism.
Her Participation in the struggle for independence
So, after Kaur completed her studies in England, she returned to India, her motherland. She was by then into politics and wanted to be part of the struggle for independence in India.
Her father had a few connections in the national congress and had linked her up with some prominent leaders in the congress. Some of them used to visit them at their homeplace, giving her a chance to interact with them.
During this time, she had heard Mahatma Gandhi aggressing the Indians, and his visions and thoughts were captivating. Gandhi’s message had a huge impact on Kaur, and her passion to be in the congress grew even more.
Her entrance into the congress activities began when she worked for Mahatma Gandhi as his secretary. She worked for a whole 16 years.
The Jallianwala Bagh mass killing ignited her hate for the British administration. The British soldiers killed more than 400 people during a peaceful demonstration in Amritsar. This act hurt Kaur to the core, and she swore to be a rebel of the British administration.
She Joins the Congress
To perform her critical activities well, she decided to join the national congress. She then became active in India’s struggle for independence, and at the same, she was working on establishing Social reform in the country.
In 1927, she participated in the founding and establishment of the All India Women’s Conference. She was a devoted member and was made the secretary in around 1930.
Not so long after she was appointed the conference secretary, she was promoted to assume the position of the conference’s president in 1933.
Around 1930, she was put to jail by the British government for being part of the Dandi march facilitated and promoted by Mahatma Gandhi.
Despite her aristocratic practices, Amrit Kaur got into the Austere Lifestyle. This happened when she started living at Gandhi’s Monastery in 1934.
She was fearless and daring. On a certain occasion, in 1937, she decided to go on a goodwill mission to Bannu. The British were still on her case, and they ordered her to arrest. She got charged with sedition and again sent to jail.
She becomes a member of the Advisory Board of Education
Amrit’s courage and leadership skills were visible to the Indians and the British administration. This was confirmed after they appointed her to join the advisory board of education. She was brilliant and well educated, and thus she was worth the offer.
However, she resigned shortly after the appointment due to her participation in the Quit India Movement. Her nation and Indians as a whole were her top priority every time. Again, the authorities then ordered her arrest and imprisonment.
Kaur Chaired a couple of movements and conferences. These include the All India Women’s Education Fund Association, UNESCO and, of course, a committee member of the Lady Irwin College.
Kaur boldly stood firm in her decisions and always fought for her people. She wanted to minimise poverty and do away with the early marriages among the children.
Kaur also saw the eradication of the Purdah system, which was quite famous across the various Indian States and communities.
She Joins the Constituent Assembly
So, when India finally acquired its full independence in 1947, Kaur got into the Indian Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces. The new state government had formed this body purposely for drafting the Indian Constitution.
Kaur did not slide back after assuming a position in the Constituent Assembly. She kept pushing for the better things for the people.
As a congress Constituent Assembly member, she supported the uniform civil code proposal that suggested formulating and implementing laws that could apply to everybody equally without considering their religion or background.
There was nothing like the right to vote (Universal franchise). This was very unfair to the citizens. Therefore, being a member of the national congress gave her an opportunity to push for the initiation of a proposal for the universal franchise. Many congress members, including Amrit Kaur, fully supported the proposal and advocated for the same.
Kaur played a significant role in advocating for women and children. She believed that women and children received less attention than they needed from the presiding administration. And so, Kaur decided to fight for the two groups in society.
She always opposed the things that affected the women and the children, like affirmative action, which mostly affected the women.
Kaur grew up as a religious person and as a protestant Christian to be precise. She upheld the same religion until her last days. When she got into congress, she also pushed and advocated for the recognition and respect for religious rights.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur as the health minister
Did you know that Kaur was the first woman and first person to occupy the position of health minister in India?
So, after independence, they appointed her as a member of the first cabinet under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. This made her the first woman to occupy a cabinet position, and she served the same position for a decade.
Kaur’s performance and commitment to serving the nation earned her the position of a minister in the first cabinet. Not so long, she received a higher rank and assigned the head of the World Health Assembly. By this time, a major outbreak of malaria had just hit India.
Kaur then started a big campaign that focused on alleviating this deadly disease in India. At the same, she hit the streets, preaching the gospel of preventing the spread of tuberculosis.
Then, she pushed for the launching of one of the biggest Vaccination Programmes in India and the entire world.
Kaur utilized her position as the Health Minister well. She saw this as an opportunity to give the people what they needed most. She again established AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) in Delhi.
Additionally, she assumed the position of the president of this great Institute. After this, she was always on the run to ensure the institution (AIIMS) kept growing. Kaur also contributed funds to support the missions and agendas of the AIIMS.
She influenced her brother to give out their inherited property to support the Institute at some point. Kaur donated their ancestral house as the residence for the staff working at AIIMS.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Memorials
Did you know that Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was a princess? She abandoned all that loyalty, luxury and good life to struggle for India’s independence.
She later assumed the position of a health minister in the first India’s cabinet, and she became the first person to assume that position in India. Today, she remains an icon to emulate for the new India’s generation.
Today receives a lot of credit for establishing and maintaining the AIIMS. She served as the president of this institution. Again, she also became the first Asian person to chair the World Health Assembly. That’s was pretty amazing of her.
She achieved a lot during her life and therefore deserved credits for a job well done. The legacy she left behind deserves crediting and not to be ignored or left to go extinct.
She has a few memorials in India, including the Nursing College, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing, which she established and the Indian National Sports Club.
We know of no statues yet for the fallen selfless princes. The only surviving memory is her private papers presently preserved at the Nehru Memorial Museum in Delhi.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing
This is one of the most prominent colleges in India. It is a pioneer college that was initially established for nursing training. Today, the nursing Institute serves India and the entire S.E Asian region. It presently offers a variety of programmes.
This Institute was established in 1946 after India got its independence. Its foundations were laid down under the supervision and support of Rajkumar Amrit Kaur, who was then the minister of health in India.
The purpose was to provide proper training to young women. She wanted India to have a reliable health system with professional nurses.
In 1959, the college administration launched a 2-year master’s Programme in nursing. This was a huge step in the Indian education system.
Later in 1986, they introduced M. Phil. in Nursing, which laid a foundation for doctoral nursing programmes. The university board of management launched a doctoral programme in nursing in 1992.
Interesting Facts About Amrit Kaur
- She was a princess
- Even though she didn’t present herself as one, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was from a very stable family. Her father, Raja Sir Harnam, was a prominent person in ancient India.
- She did concentrate so much on royalty because she spent most of her childhood time in England, where she did her education. Even after returning to India, she still concentrated on the struggle for independence despite her status in society.
- She Was a Christian
- Unlike many Indians, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur grew up as a protestant Christian. She upheld her Christianity till her death.
- Kaur was religious, and even after becoming a senior person in the state government, she advocated for religious rights. However, after her passing, her body was cremated according to the culture and tradition of the land.
- Kaur was the first Indian to become a health minister
- Her passion for politics helped her assume the position of a congress member during the struggle for independence in India. Later, when India regained her freedom and independence, she was appointed the health minister.
- Mark you that this was the first cabinet formed in Indian history. So, that made her the first person to serve as a minister for health in India. Later on, she occupied even a bigger position. She got an appointment to be the president of the World Health Assembly.
- She advocated for the weak in society
- When she later assumed the role of a minister, she was always fighting for the poor, women and children. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur saw these groups as the weakest in society and thus needed an advocate. At some point, she pushed for the eradication of some laws that oppressed women in the society.
- She was selfless and super patriotic
- Amrit Kaur displayed her selflessness and love for her country on many occasions. First of all, she could have stayed back to enjoy her royalty, but instead chose the hard life of a freedom fighter.
- She remained focused and passionate about serving her country and creating a better life. When she became the minister, she still wasn’t that concerned about her welfare.
- All Amrit wanted was to serve her people. When she established the AIIMS, she donated her ancestral house for the staff to be using it.
Amrit Kaur died in 1964. She passed on at the age of 75. We have no reliable information on the cause of her death. It might surprise you to know that they cremated her body despite her being a protestant Christian her entire lifetime. However, that is what the Sikh Rituals demanded of anyone who died.
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