Jayakar, Pupul (1915–1999)

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Jayakar, Pupul (1915–1999)

Considered by many to be the tsarina of Indian culture. Born on September 11, 1915, at Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, India; died of cardiac arrest at her home in South Bombay, India; graduate of London School of Economics; married Manmohan M. Jayakar, a lawyer.

Selected writings:

Children of a Barren Woman: Essays, Investigations, Stories (1994); Indira Gandhi: A Biography (1995); J. Krishnamurti: A Biography (1996); Textiles and Ornaments of India (1972).

Pupul Jayakar was born into a Gujarati Brahmin family on September 11, 1915, at Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, India. Following her graduation from the London School of Economics, she began her career in public life as an assistant secretary in the National Planning Committee, which at that time was chaired by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Jayakar was soon recognized as the tsarina of Indian culture. She was particularly noted for popularizing Indian art, culture and heritage by promoting Festivals of India abroad. Jayakar was also active in elevating Indian handicrafts and served as the executive director and later chair of the Handicrafts and Handloom Corporation of India. As well, she chaired the All India Handicrafts Board for a period of three years beginning in 1974. Involved in many other cultural movements in India as well, Jayakar was appointed vice-president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in 1982. In 1984, she founded the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), and for a period of five years, beginning in 1985, she served as vice-chair of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust as well as an adviser on heritage and cultural resources to the prime minister. She was a close friend of Indira Gandhi and a disciple of philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, writing biographies of both. Pupul Jayakar died in South Bombay, India, of cardiac arrest in 1999.

Jo Anne Meginnes , freelance writer, Brookfield, Vermont