Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first woman to be elected president of the United Nations General Assembly, in 1953. A prominent politician and active Indian nationalist, she was also the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet position in pre-independent India. As newly-independent India's top diplomat, Pandit served as ambassador to the Soviet Union (1947-49), the United States and Mexico (1949-51), Ireland (1955-61), and Spain (1958-61), and high commissioner to the United Kingdom (1955-61). In 1979, she was appointed India's representative to the UN Human Rights Commission. Pandit was an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College.
Manu Bhagavan is a Professor of History and Human Rights at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He specialises in the study of late-colonial and post-colonial India, particularly in human rights, (inter)nationalism, and questions of sovereignty. His critically-acclaimed 2012 book The Peacemakers: India and the Quest for One World is an international history that deals with India's efforts to create consensus around the framework of human rights.
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