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Maneka Gandhi - Environmentalist, Animal Right Activist and a Parliamentarian

Maneka with her son Varun Gandhi

Maneka with Mrs Indira Gandhi and son Varun Gandhi

Maneka Gandhi (born on 26th august 1956) in a Sikh family to Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand and Amardeep Kaur Anand. She was born in Delhi and educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar and later at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi she earned an ISC. She did modelling for Bombay Dyeing and that was where she was spotted by Sanjay Gandhi. She met him when she was 17 and got married within a year.
Maneka Gandhi - Environmentalist, Animal Right Activist and a parliamentarian
Maneka Gandhi - Environmentalist, Animal Right Activist and a parliamentarian

Sanjay and Maneka lived with Indira Gandhi and Sanjay grew increasingly involved in Indian politics as part of the Youth Congress. Maneka often accompanied him on his travels. She was also the Founder Editor of Surya, a piece of political news monthly. When the Congress party was defeated in 1977, Maneka turned the magazine into a platform to promote and defend the Congress party, her husband and mother-in-law. Surya magazine carried regular interviews with Indira Gandhi and was instrumental in refurbishing her image. Maneka accompanied Indira Gandhi to Chikmagalur from where Indira was re-elected. Dom Moraes who covered that visit remarked on the junior Mrs Gandhi’s lively intelligence and charisma. Khushwant Singh once likened Maneka to ‘Durga’.

Environmentalist and Animal right activist:
Maneka Gandhi is a self-described environmentalist and animal rights leader in India. She was appointed chairwoman of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) in 1995. Under her direction, CPCSEA members carried unannounced inspections of laboratories where animals are used for scientific research were conducted.

She started the organisation People for Animals in 1992 and it is the largest organisation for animal rights/welfare in India. Maneka Gandhi is also a patron of International Animal Rescue. She is a vegan and has advocated this lifestyle on ethical and health grounds. She also anchored a weekly Television program named "Heads and Tails" highlighting sufferings meted out to animals due to their commercial exploitation. She has also authored a book under the same title. Her other books were about Indian people names. She is a cast member for the documentary A Delicate Balance.

Career: 
As a journalist, Maneka Gandhi made headlines for her shocking publication in Surya Magazine of photos showing sexual intercourse between Suresh Ram (son of the then Defence Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram) and Sushma Chaudhury, a University of Delhi student. Her daring publication of the photos ran the risk of violation of obscenity laws. The revealing pictures were published apparently to discredit Jagjivan Ram, who defected from the Indira Gandhi government and helped bring Janata Party to power in 1977. He was one of the contenders for the post of Prime Minister of India.

Controversies:
Animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has come in the way of our soldiers getting trendy and comfortable leather sports shoes. She says thousands of cows will have to be slaughtered to make sneakers for 1.1 million jawans. But the Army believes that Maneka's objection is a ploy to "derail the process of procurement".

Some weeks ago, the central government announced the decision to award contracts for eight lakh pairs of high-quality sneakers replacing the no-frills brown canvas PT shoes that jawans use. But with Maneka throwing the spanner in the works, the project is stillborn. The shoe project is worth Rs 100 crore only in the first phase when sneakers will be provided to eight lakh soldiers. More orders would follow. 

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