Sunday, December 24, 2017

Masuma Begum

Date of Birth: 1902 and Date of Death: 1990
            Masuma Begum, who was the first women Minister in the Council of Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, and the first Muslim woman minister in the country, was born in 1902 in Hyderabad, the present capital of Andhra Pradesh.  Her father Khadif Jung was a bureaucrat and her mother Tyaba Begum Bilgrami was a well educated lady.  Masuma Begum had her education in the Mehabubia Girls’ High School in the city of Hyderabad.  She got married to Hussain Ali Khan in 1922, who was a very close relative of her family.  Masuma Begum’s husband was a well educated scholar with liberal ideas; As such, she could participate actively in social service programmes.  Masuma got elected as the President of ‘Anjuman’, which was started with an ambition to spread education among the people in general and among the women in particular.  She did not confine herself to the field of education alone, but also took part very actively in social reforms movements and social service programmes, influenced by the Indian National Movement.  She worked for the establishment of several educational, social services and women’s welfare organisations.  Masuma held several key posts in different national and international women’s and social organisations.  Her social service activities brought her good reputation, which proved helpful in her political career.  She got elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1952 and 1957.  Masuma became the Deputy Leader of the Congress Legislative Party in 1957 and was appointed as the Member-in-Charge for the International Affairs.  Later, she became the Minister for Social Welfare and Muslim Endowments in the Cabinet led by Damodaram Sanjeevaiah.  She continued in that post from 1960 to 1962.  She created history as the first Muslim woman in India to become a minister.  But, she distanced herself from active politics after her defeat in elections held in 1962.  Since then she, totally dedicated herself to the social welfare programmes.  She was honoured by the Government of India with ‘Padmasree’ in 1974.  Masuma Begum, who dedicated her life mainly for the welfare of women and people, breathed her last in 1990.

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