India's first woman diplomat passes away

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India's first woman diplomat, CB Muthamma
Bangalore, Oct 15: India's first woman diplomat and a crusader for women's rights in Indian civil services, C B Muthamma passed away at the age of 85 after a brief period of illness on Wednesday, Oct 14.

Chonira Belliappa Muthamma became the first woman to write the Indian Civil Services examinations in 1948 and to join the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1949 thus earning the title of the first Indian woman diplomat.

Posted as Third Secretary in the Indian Embassy, Paris, she went on to become the first Indian woman Ambassador/High Commissioner.

Apart from serving as the ambassador to Hungary, Ghana and Netherlands, she was part of Indian diplomatic missions in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Born in 1924, in Karnataka's Coorg or Kodagu, Muthamma served from 1949 till her retirement in 1982.

This record setting woman will forever be remembered for her tireless fight to establish gender equality in the male dominated Indian civil services.

In her fight, Muthamma even took the Indian government to court in 1979 for bypassing her for the coveted foreign secretary"s post. Even though the petition was dismissed by the apex court, she managed to get the Supreme Court agree that gender discrimination did exist in the foreign office.

In her last year, she published books ranging from Kodava cuisine to gender bias.

In her 2003 masterpiece titled 'Slain by the System -India"s Real Crisis", she writes, "Looking back, I cannot help but conclude that my tenure with the external affairs ministry was one long tussle with the anti-women bias."

OneIndia News

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