Inspirational Women – Begum Aizaz Rasul

The sixth Inspirational Woman that we have today is Begum Aizaz Rasul, who was the only Muslim woman to be a part of the Constitution Assembly of India, which drafted the Constitution of India. She is also the author of the Book From Purdah to Parliament – A Muslim Woman in Indian Politics.

Begum Rasool was born on 2 April 1909 as Qudsia Begum. Her father, Sir Zulfiqar, belonged to a collateral branch of the ruling family of Malerkotla princely state in Punjab. Her mother, Mahmuda Sultan, was the daughter of Nawab Allauddin Ahmed Khan, Nawab of Loharu.

Qudsia was married in 1929, to Nawab Aizaz Rasul, the taluqdar (landowner) of Sandila in Hardoi district of what was then Oudh (now a part of Uttar Pradesh.

In 1935, the Couple joined the Muslim League and entered electoral politics. In the 1937 elections, she was one of the few women who successfully contested from a non-reserved seat and was elected to the U.P legislative assembly. Begum Aizaz Rasul remained a member till 1952. She held the office of the Deputy President of the Council from 1937 to 1940 and acted as the Leader of Opposition in the Council from 1950 to 1952. She was the first woman in India and the first Muslim woman in the world to reach this position. Despite her family background, she was known for her strong support for zamindari abolition. She also strongly opposed the demand for separate electorates based on religion.

There was much propaganda against me, specially a ‘Fatwa’ by the Ulemas that it was un-Islamic to vote for a non-purdah Muslim woman.

Begum Aizaz Rasul in her autobiography “”From Purdah to Parliament”

“To my mind, reservation is a self-destructive weapon which separates the minorities from the majority for all time. It gives no chance to the minorities to win the goodwill of the majority. It keeps up the spirit of separatism and communalism alive which should be done away once and for all,” she said in the advisory committee meeting chaired by Vallabhbhai Patel in December, 1948.

In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India. She was the only Muslim woman in the Assembly. In 1950, the Muslim League in India dissolved and Begum Aizaz Rasul joined the Congress. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1952 and was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1969 to 1989.

Between, 1969 and 1971, she was the Minister for Social Welfare and Minorities. In 2000, she was awarded a Padma Bhushan for her contribution to social work.

Begum Aizaz Rasul was instrumental in creating consensus amongst the Muslim leadership to voluntarily give up the demand for reserved seats for religious minorities. During the discussions pertaining to the right of minorities in an assembly of the Drafting Committee, she opposed the idea of having ‘separate electorates’ for Muslims. She quoted the idea as ‘a self-destructive weapon which separates the minorities from the majority for all time’. By 1949, the Muslim members who wished for the retention of separate electorates came around to accept Begum’s appeal.

She authored the book Three Weeks in Japan and contributed to various newspapers and magazines. Her autobiography is titled From Purdah to Parliament: A Muslim Woman in Indian Politics. Begum Aizaz Rasul was also the President of Indian Women’s  Hockey Federation for nearly 20 years. The establishment of the All India Women’s Hockey Association (AIWHA) and its affiliation from the international women’s hockey federation was a moment of pride for her.

Reference:

https://indianexpress.com/article/gender/begum-aizaz-rasul-the-only-muslim-woman-to-oppose-minority-reservations-in-the-constituent-assembly-5057096/

Image Source:

DNA India

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