Amrit Kaur was born on 1889 as the daughter of Raja Harnam Singh and Rani Harman Singh. Her father was introduced to Christianity through his tutor Rev.J.S.Woodside, who belonged to the American Presbyterian Mission. His mind was filled with the teachings of Christ and he decided to accept Christianity. He was baptized by Rev.Gokalnath and afterwards married Rev.Gokalnath's youngest daughter and cut himself off entirely from his native state. Her mother was Bengali and a Presbyterian, which accounted for her strict upbringing Amrit Kaur was sent to England for her education when she was 12 years old. She returned to India when she was 20, without completing her education at Oxford.
Amrit Kaur was a woman who always stood by her principles. She never married and devoted herself to the service of India and humanity in general. In thirties she took up the cause of women's emancipation in India and joined the All-India Women's Conference. She was influenced by Gandhiji's teachings when she heard him address the Indian National Congress at Bombay. She stayed with him for a month at Sevagram. Bapu gave her a small room to stay at Sevagram and she helped him with secretarial work.
Amrit Kaur was interested in politics and in India's independence. Her first Guru was Gopal Krislna Gokhale and later Bapu took that place. After Bapu's arrest, she was put under house arrest at Simla. One of the British I.C.S. officers, Penderel Moon, was so upset by this act that he resigned from the I.C.S. He criticized the policies of the British admnistration for convicting innocent persons.
After the war, when Jawaharlal formed the Interim Government, Amrit Kaur became the first Union Minister of Health. She was also the Minister of Sports and the Chairman of Indian Indian Red Cross. She established the Tuberculosis Association of India and became its first President. She also initiated the construction of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Amrit Kaur continued as Health Minister after the first general election. After the elections, she was dropped as she was away at WHO Assembly in Geneva and thus the Health portfolio passed into the hands of a lawyer from Karnataka. However, she continued to hold the President ship of the All India Institute of Medical Science and the Tuberculosis Association. She continued to work hard till her last breath. She died of a heart attack on 1964.
(Last Updated on : 22-06-2012)
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