Image Credits: The Indian Express/Subhashini Ali
Ammu Swaminathan

Early Life

Ammu Swaminathan was born in 1894 in Palakkad, Kerala. Ammu got married to Subbarama Swaminathan when she was 13 years old. After her marriage, she learned English and moved to Madras. From 1914 onwards, she was drawn to the political and women’s rights movement.

 

In 1917, she worked with Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Annie Besant, Muthulakshmi Reddy, and others to set the Women’s India Association (WIA) at Adyar, Madras. WIA  transformed into one of the largest women’s rights organization in India and worked to tackle social issues including child marriage and devadasi practice. It made representations before the Montague Chelmsford Commission, 1917 and  Southborough Commission in 1918 and advocated for equality of voting rights for women.

 

Role in India’s Independence Movement

Ammu was involved in the Quit India Movement in 1942 that led to her imprisonment a year later.

 

Contribution to Constitution Making

She was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the Madras Constituency in 1946. She spoke on fundamental rights and directive principles.

 

Later Contributions

Post-independence she was elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1952 and subsequently to the Rajya Sabha 1954. Apart from her time at the Parliament, her interests in movies led her to become the Vice President of the Federation of Film Societies and the Censor Board. For five years, she also served as the President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides between 1960 and 1965.

 

Swaminathan passed away in 1978.

 

Member, House Committee. 

On 24 November 1949, two days before the adoption of the Constitution, in her general comments on the Constitution, Ammu stated that fundamental rights and directive principles constituted the core of the Constitution. However, she was not pleased with the ‘bulkiness’ of the constitution and would have rather preferred one that could be carried in a pocket.