The swearing-in ceremony of Rajasthan and Gujarat Governor Ms Margaret Alva as Governor of Goa, will be held at the Raj Bhavan in Dona Paula tommorow. Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice Mohit Shantilal Shah, will administer the oath of office to the Governor in Durbar hall of the Raj Bhavan.
A lawyer, parliamentarian and former Union Minister, Alva is credited with steering several landmark legislations through the Indian parliament to improve the position of women in society and polity.
While unflinchingly advocating an ‘inclusive India’ guided by Constitutional values, she in her gubernatorial role sees herself as a ‘Friend, Philosopher and Guide’ to the State Government. Beginning her political career as the only woman Block President in Karnataka after the split of 1969, she went on to head the Congress Party’s women’s wing in Karnataka in 1972. She soon moved on to become the General Secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. Two years later, Alva, then 32, was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Thereafter, there was no turning back.
As a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha (1974-98) and Lok Sabha (1999-2004), Alva served on several parliamentary committees. She was appointed Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in the Rajiv Gandhi Government in 1984, later moving to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in charge of Youth Affairs and Sports, Women and Child Development.
In 1991 she was appointed Union Minister of State for Personnel, Pensions, Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms (attached to the Prime Minister). She also served as Minister for Science and Technology for a brief period.
Alva spearheaded some major legislative amendments passed by the Indian Parliament involving women’s rights, the most important being reservation of quotas for women in local bodies.
She steered legislation on Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) and amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956.
She also helped draft the National Perspective Plan for Women — a blueprint for policies for empowerment of women, which has been adopted as a guide by Union and state governments.
Several far reaching reforms in the sports management and infrastructure fields took shape with her efforts. As Minister of State for Personnel, Smt. Alva initiated the process of administrative decentralization, taking governance to the grassroots. In 2004, Alva’s parliamentary experience was tapped by the Indian Parliament with her appointment as Advisor to the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, a body set up to help improve standards of legislative functioning in Parliament and State Assemblies by training newly elected MPs and MLAs in their work.
She simultaneously served as General Secretary of the AICC for five years. On completion of this assignment (2004-09), Alva was appointed the Governor of Uttarakhand in 2009. She moved to Rajasthan, as Governor, in 2012. With the Constitution of India enjoining upon Governors of States with sizeable tribal population to monitor progress in Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) areas, Alva carrying forward a proposal mooted by her predecessor Shivraj Patil set up a Tribal Cell in Raj Bhawan, Jaipur.
Having visited most of the tribal districts of Rajasthan, Alva has been communicating her suggestions on tribal development issues to the State Government for follow-up action. A MP for 30 years, Alva confesses to being a reluctant politician.
‘My husband, Niranjan Alva, whose parents Joachim and Violet Alva — both freedom fighters and the first couple in the Indian Parliament — persuaded me to accept Karnataka Congress’ appointment to lead its women’s wing in 1972,’ she has said.
Alva and her husband both lawyers — practiced in the Supreme Court. She has represented India at several international conferences. Recipient of several Awards for contribution to public life, Alva has lectured at, among others, Harvard and Columbia Universities. A painter, interior decorator and social worker by temperament, Alva enjoys being among people. She lives with her husband and values time spent with her three sons, and a daughter and their nine children.
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