Lakshmi Sahgal

Lakshmi Sahgal
Lakshmi Sahgal (bottom left) in 2005 with a member of the Politburo of the CPI (Marxist) Sitaramom Echuri at a news conference.

Lakshmi Sahgal (or Sehgal) née Swaminathan, also known as Captain Laxmi. (Malayalam: ലക്ഷമി സൈഗാള്‍; Tamil: லக்ஷ்மி சேகள்) (born October 24, 1914 in Madras, Madras Presidency, British India) is an activist of the Indian independence movement, an ex-officer of the Indian National Army, and the Minister of Women's affairs in the Azad Hind Government.

A doctor by profession, Captain Lakshmi came into the limelight in India towards the end of World War II for her role as the commander of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the INA and her role as a minister in Subhas Bose's Azad Hind government. She later became involved in politics in independent India, serving as a member of parliament in the Upper House and later running for President as a left wing candidate. Lt Col Swaminathan is commonly referred to as Captain Lakshmi in India, referring to her rank at the time of being taken prisoner in Burma, as widely reported in Indian newspapers at the end of the war and which captured the public imagination, as opposed to her not widely known promotion in the last days of Azad Hind.


Early life

Sahgal was born as Lakshmi Swaminathan, daughter of Dr S. Swaminathan, a leading lawyer practising Criminal Law at Madras High Court. Her mother was A.V. Ammukutty, better known as Ammu Swaminathan, a social worker and independence activist and hailed from the famous Vadakkath family of Anakkara in Palghat, Kerala. A.V. Kutty Malu Amma was another well known freedom fighter from the same family.

Lakshmi decided to study medicine because she wanted to be of service to the poor, especially to poor women.[citation needed] As a result, she received an MBBS degree from Madras Medical College in 1938. A year later, she received her diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics.

In 1940,she left for Singapore where she established a clinic for the poor, mostly migrant labour, from India. She was not only a doctor but also played an active role in the India Independence League.

Azad Hind

In 1942, during the surrender of Singapore by the British to the Japanese, she worked in serving the prisoners of war who were wounded during the fighting. In the process, she came in contact with Indian Prisoners of War (POWs) who were thinking of forming an Indian liberation army.

Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Singapore on July 2, 1943. In the next few days, at all his public meetings, Netaji spoke of his determination to raise a women's regiment, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, which would also "fight for Indian Independence and make it complete".[citation needed]

Lakshmi joined the new regiment, called the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. She was given the rank of a Colonel[citation needed]. The unit had the strength of a Brigade. In a regular army, this women's army unit was the first of its kind in Asia. The army fought on the side of the Axis powers against the British.

Lakshmi was active both militarily and on the medical front. Later, she became the Minister in charge of Women's Organization in Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind (Provisional Government of Free India), led by Subhash Chandra Bose. She held this portfolio over and above her command of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.

Later years

After marrying Colonel Prem Kumar Sahgal, the couple settled down in Kanpur. She carried on with her medical profession and served the refugees who were arriving in large numbers following the Partition of India.

In 1971 she joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and represented the party in the Rajya Sabha. During the Bangladesh crisis she organised relief camps and medical help in Calcutta for Bangladesh refugees who streamed into India at the time. She was nominated the Left Front's candidate for post of President of India in 2002.Later she became a leader of the All India Democratic Women's Association.

In 2002 four leftist parties (Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and All India Forward Bloc) nominated her as a candidate in the presidential elections. She was the sole counter-candidate to the winning A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.


Colonel Prem Kumar Sahgal was among those who were released from the Red Fort by the British. In March 1947, Colonel Sahgal and Captain Lakshmi were married in Lahore, British India. Colonel Sahgal was the son of Justice Achhru Ram Sahgal. After their marriage, they settled in Kanpur.

Her daughter Subhashini Ali is a prominent communist politician and a labour activist. According to her daughter, Sahgal is an atheist.[1]

Awards and recognition

In 1998, she was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the President of India.

See also


  1. ^ "There are religions that have very rigid rules and there are others that don't. Religion is something that I, as a person, am not interested in. I have always been an atheist. My parents were atheists. It doesn't bother me if somebody is religious. My problem is when religion is used to institutionalise other things." The Rediff Interview/ Subhasini Ali, 8 August 2001 (accessed 21 April 2008).

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lakshmi Sahgal — (auch Sehgal; Hindi: लक्ष्मी सहगल[1], Lakṣmī Sahagal; * 24. Oktober 1914 in Madras) war eine indische Freiheitskämpferin während des Zweiten Weltkrieges und indische Politikerin. Sie ist auch bekannt als Captain Lakshmi. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lakshmi Sahgal — Capitaine Lakshmi Sahgal Mandats Ministre des Affaires féminines 1943 – 1945 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lakshmi Sehgal — Lakshmi Sahgal (auch Sehgal; Hindi: लक्ष्मी सहगल[1], Lakṣmī Sahagal; * 24. Oktober 1914 in Madras) war eine indische Freiheitskämpferin während des Zweiten Weltkrieges und indische Politikerin. Sie ist auch bekannt als Captain Lakshmi.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lakshmi (disambiguation) — Lakshmi is a goddess in the Hindu religion.Lakshmi may also refer to:*Addi Lakshmi, a film released in 2006 starring Srikanth and Vadde Navin *Lakshmi (film), released in 2003 starring Venkatesh *Lakshmi Kalyanam, a film released in 2007 starring …   Wikipedia

  • Sahgal — ist der Name folgender Personen: Lakshmi Sahgal (* 1914), indische Freiheitskämpferin während des Zweiten Weltkrieges und indische Politikerin Nayantara Sahgal (* 1927), indische Schriftstellerin und Botschafterin Siehe auch: Sagal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Prem Sahgal — Colonel Prem Kumar Sahgal (25 March 1917 – 17 October 1992) was an officer of the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose which fought against the British imperial rule in undivided India. Sahgal was a Captain in the 2/10th Baluch Regiment of …   Wikipedia

  • Nayantara Sahgal — at a reading in New Delhi Nayantara Sahgal (Hindi: नयनतारा सहगल; born 10 May 1927) is an Indian writer in English. Her fiction deals with India s elite responding to the crises engendered by political change; she was one of the first female Indo… …   Wikipedia

  • Nayantara Sahgal — Nayantara Sahgal, 2007 Nayantara Sahgal (* 10. Mai 1927) ist eine indische Schriftstellerin und Journalistin, die als Mitglied der Nehru Gandhi Familie geboren wurde. Ihre Mutter war Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Damit ist Sahgal eine Cousine Indira… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit — Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit (विजयलक्ष्मी नेहरू पंडित) (1900 1990) est une femme politique et diplomate indienne, première femme Président de l Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies. C est la sœur du premier ministre indien Jawaharlal Nehru. En… …   Wikipédia en Français

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