Born Swarup Kumari Nehru on this day in Allahabad, diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990), like her brother Jawaharlal Nehru, was a pioneer in India's struggle for freedom.
"Freedom is not for the timid," she once said. Her adopted names "Vijaya" and "Lakshmi" mean "victory" and "prosperity," respectively.
A strong advocate of Mahatma Gandhi and leader in the quest for India's independence, she was jailed many times by the British in the 1930s and 1940s for her civil disobedience.
"Healthy discontent," said her beloved mentor Gandhi, "is the prelude to progress."
According to Pandit, political imprisonment is "a slow daily sacrifice which can be so much more deadly than some big heroic gesture made in a moment of emotional upheaval."
A leader who celebrated many firsts, she was the first Indian woman elected to a cabinet post and the first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly (1953).
"The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war," she said.
A believer in human rights and the women's rights movement, Pandit was the founder and President of the All-India Save the Children. Her intimate memoirs, The Scope of Happiness (1979) captured India's struggles and success and her remarkable political career.
"Difficulties, opposition, criticism--these things are meant to be overcome, and there is a special joy in facing them and in coming out on top. It is only when there is nothing but praise that life loses its charm and I begin to wonder what I should do about it," Pandit wrote.
A beacon of light and leadership, Pandit dedicated her life to the betterment of the people of India.
Education, as life, is a pursuit of truth and virtue.