Begum FQudsia Aizaz Rasul was born to the royal family of Malerkotla (situated in erstwhile united Punjab) on 4th 1908. Her father was Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan. Qudsia had a progressive upbringing and was encouraged from a very early age to lead a modern life, as opposed to several stringent restrictions imposed upon other contemporary Muslim women, such as that of the purdah.
She got married at quite an early age to Nawaab Aizaz Rasul from the erstwhile province of Awadh. Her husband held the position of a or a landowner. Qudsia had political exposure both before and after marriage, and her formal political participation took place after she got married.
Qudsia, along with her husband, joined the Muslim League in , soon after the passing of the Government of India Act in 1935. This was also her official entry into electoral politics, as she contested in the elections of 1937 from the U.P. legislative assembly, where she successfully held her seat till 1952. Aizaz was one of the very few female candidates to have contested and won from a non-reserved constituency during the pre-independent times.
She was the first Indian woman to achieve such feats, and this was truly commendable and noteworthy at a time when most formal political positions were almost implicitly reserved for men.
As an MLA, she also held several important posts, such as the Leader of Opposition (1950 to 1952) and the Deputy President of the Council (1937 to 1940). She was the first Indian woman to achieve such feats, and this was truly commendable and noteworthy at a time when most formal political positions were almost implicitly reserved for men. Moreover, to rise to prominence at a politically significant province such as the U.P. indeed made Qudsia Aizaz Rasul a trailblazer.
She is well known for her progressive, anti-feudal stances, such as the abolition of the zamindari system. Qudsia was a strong advocate for the abolition of communal electorates as well, as she believed it divided the society more than it united – which was counterproductive for the Indian electoral candidates at a time when there was an urgent need of a united Indian front to oppose the colonial rulers. She went on to create a strong and convincing case for the abolition of electoral reservations for religious minorities during her tenure as a member of the Constituent Assembly
Qudsia was one of the 28 Muslim League members to join the Constituent Assembly of undivided India, and she was the only Muslim woman to be a part of the assembly. Her contributions in the assembly debates remain monumental till date and have been recorded in many official sources.
Her contributions in the assembly debates remain monumental till date, and have been recorded in many official sources.
After the dissolution of the League, she joined the Indian National Congress, and served as a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1952 to 1958. Later, she became a member of the legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh from 1969 to 1989.
Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul is also well known for her autobiography, titled From Purdah to Parliament: A Muslim Woman in Indian Politics. It provides excellent insights into the intersectional aspects of organised politics as it functions in our country. Other than this, she also wrote a travelogue titled Three Weeks in Japan.
Besides her literary prowess, Qudsia had also served as the President of the Indian Women Hockey Federation for over fifteen years, and went on to become the President of the Asian Women’s Hockey Federation.
Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2000 for immense, invaluable contributions to the field of social work.
1. From Purdah to Parliament: Begum Aizaz Rasul (A Review) by Radhika Bordia
2. Begum Aizaz Rasul: The only Muslim woman to oppose minority reservations in the Constituent Assembly by Christina George