Margaret Alva is an Indian Politician, advocate, social worker, and trade unionist, who was nominated as the Opposition’s candidate for the vice-presidential election in 2022. A prominent parliamentarian, she served four consecutive terms in the Rajya Sabha and one in the Lok Sabha. She served as the 17th Governor of Goa, 23rd Governor of Gujarat, 20th Governor of Rajasthan and 4th Governor of Uttarakhand.
Margaret Nazareth was born on born 14 April 1942 (age 80 years; as of 2022) in Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Her zodiac sign is Aries. In her autobiography, while describing the patriarchal Indian society, she revealed that her mother was disappointed at her birth because she wanted a son. In an interview, while talking about the same, she said,
My mother was upset when I was born. I was the third girl child. But it was my grandfather who told my mother not to be disappointed. As I was born on his birthday he strongly felt I will also become an advocate like him.”
After her early education in Mangalore, she attended Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts. In 1961, she earned the title of Best All Round Student at Mount Carmel College. During her college days, she skilled debater was and actively participated in students’ movements. Thereafter, she pursued a Bachelor of Laws at Government Law College, Bengaluru. An honorary doctorate in Literature was bestowed upon her by the University of Mysore in 1989. After her marriage, she moved to Dehli. Her mother-in-law, Violet Alva, was a woman of indomitable spirit who wanted to inspire the youth to do something constructive. Following Violet’s death in 1969, Margaret stepped into her shoes. In the book Reflections: Experiences of a Bureaucrat’s Wife, Margaret talked about Violet’s death and said,
I consider my mother-in-law as my idol. There was so much do. Several of her unfinised tasks.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Margaret Alva at an inauguration ceremony
Margaret Alva belongs to a Christian family.
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is P.A. Nazareth, and her mother’s name is E.L. Nazareth. She had two brothers, John Mohan Nazareth and Pascal Alan Nazareth, and two sister, Corinne Rego and Joan Peres. Her brother Pascal Alan Nazareth is a former Ambassador of India to Japan and author of book ‘Gandhi: The Soul Force Warrior.’
Margaret Alva’s brother Pascal Alan Nazareth
Margaret Alva’s sister Joan Peres
Margaret Alva’s sister Corinne Rego
Husband & Children
On 24 May 1964, she got married to the Supreme Court lawyer Niranjan Thomas Alva, who later had a successful export business. The couple made acquaintance while studying at University Law College, Bengaluru. Niranjan Alva died in 2018 at Ramaiah Hospital in Bengaluru due to a chest infection.
An old picture of Margaret Alva with her husband, Niranjan Thomas Alva, and children
Margaret Alva with her husband, Niranjan Thomas Alva
Together, they have three sons and a daughter. Her son Niret Alva is Founder & CEO at Miditech Private Limited. Her other two sons are Nivedith Alva and Nikhil Alva. Nivedith Alva is a politician an Convenor of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. Her daughter, Manira Alva, is the Vice President at at Vital Voices Global Partnership.
From left to right, Nivedith Alva, Nikhil Alva, Manira Alva, and Niret Alva
Margaret Alva’s parents-in-law, Joachim Alva and Violet Alva, were freedom fighters and the first couple in the Indian Parliament. Her mother-in-law, Violet Alva, was the Second Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha in the 1960s.
Joachim Alva and Violet Alva
Near Custom`s Quarters, Uttara Kannada, Distt. Karwar, Karnataka, India
12, Safdarjung Lane, New Delhi – 110003, India
Margaret Alva began her career as a lawyer and later ventured into politics via Indian National Congress (INC). At the same time, she became a member of the Karnataka Pradesh Mahila Congress. Thereafter, then-Chief minister of Karnataka D. Devaraj Urs offered Margaret presidentship of Karnataka PCC.
A picture of Margaret Alva, Devraj Urs, and other party leaders in 1972
However, her first step on the political ladder was when she was appointed as the Convenor of Karnataka Pradesh Mahila Congress in 1972. Alva spearheaded some crucial legislative amendments passed by the Indian Parliament involving women’s rights including the reservation of quotas for women in local bodies. Besides that, she played an important role in steering legislation on Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) and amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956.
Margaret Alva with Indira Gandhi at Mahila Congress Convention in Bangalore 1984
After serving as a 25 Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from July 1974 to 25 July 1998, she was elected as the MP from the Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha constituency in 1999. However, she lost a subsequent re-election attempt in 2004. On 6 August 2009, Alva became the first female Governor of Uttarakhand. In 2012, she was appointed the Governor of Rajasthan. Her appointment relieved Shivraj Patil, the Governor of Punjab, of his additional charge for Rajasthan after the death of the incumbent governor, Prabha Rau, in April 2010.
Political Positions held
- Convenor of Karnataka Pradesh Mahila Congress (1972-1973)
- Member of Rajya Sabha (1974-1980)
- Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of External Affairs (1974-1980)
- Convenor of Congress Parliamentary Party (1975-1976)
- Member of Committee on Information and Broadcasting (1975-1976)
- Executive of Congress Parliamentary Party (1975-1976)
- Joint Secretary of All India Congress Committee (1975-1977)
- General Secretary of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (Karnataka PCC) (1978-1980)
- Member, Rajya Sabha (1980-1986)
- Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of External Affairs (1980-1986)
- Member of Panel of Vice-Chairmen, Rajya Sabha (1983-1985)
- National Convenor of Mahila Congress (1983-1988)
- Union Minister of State, Parliamentary Affairs (1984-1985)
- Member of Committee on Public Undertakings (1984-1985)
- Union Minister of State Youth Affairs & Sports (1985-1989)
- Union Minister of Women and Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (1985-1989)
- Member of Rajya Sabha (1986-1992)
- Chairman of Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, Rajya Sabha (1990-1991)
- Executive of Congress Parliamentary Party (1990-1991)
- Union Minister of State, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (1991)
- Member of Rajya Sabha (1992-1998)
- Deputy Chief Whip of Congress Party, Rajya Sabha (1993-1995)
- Union Minister of State, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions with an additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs (1993-1996)
- Member, Committee on External Affairs (1996-1997)
- Member, Committee on Public Accounts (1996-1998)
- Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (1996-1998)
- MP from Kanara (1999- 2004)
- Member of Committee on Transport and Tourism (1999-2000)
- Member of House Committee (1999-2000)
- Member of General Purposes Committee (1999-2000)
- Chairman of Committee on the Empowerment of Women (2000-2001)
- Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of Tourism (2000-2004)
- General Secretary of the AICC (2004-2009)
- Governor of Uttarakhand (2009 2012)
- Governor of Rajasthan (2012)
- Governor of Gujarat (additional charge) (7 July 2014 – 15 July 2014)
- Governor of Goa (12 July 2014 – 7 August 2014)
Other Key Positions Held
- President of Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) (1975-1978)
- President of Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women (1975-1982)
- President of World Women Parliamentarians for Peace (1986-1988)
- Chairperson of Foreign Students’ Welfare Committee of Indian Council of Cultural Relations (1982-1984)
- Chairperson of SAARC Technical Committee on Women (1985-1986)
- Chairperson of UN Expert Group meeting on Women in Decision making, Vienna (1987)
- General Secretary of All India Catholic University Federation (1961)
- Joint Secretary of Government Law College Students Union (1963-1964)
- Member of Indian Committee for International Women’s Year (1975)
- Indian Delegation to U.N. Conference for International Women’s Year at Mexico (1975)
- Indian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly (1976 and 1998)
- Member of Central Youth Advisory Board (1976-1977)
- Member of National Children’s Board (1977-1978)
- Member of National Adult Education Board (1978-1979)
- Member of National Committee on Child Labour (1979)
- Member of National Adult Education Board (1978-1979)
- Member of National Committee on Child Labour (1979)
- Member of Governing Council of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (1982-1984)
- Chairperson Women’s Participation in Politics, Seoul (ESCAP) (1992)
- Member of Panel of Eminent Persons for Asia and the Pacific for HRD (ESCAP)
- Member of the Governing Council of the Society for International Development (SID), Rome, and served on its
Executive for three years
- Member of Commonwealth Observer Group for Elections in Cameroon
- Member of IPU Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians (2000)
Sale of Party Tickets by Congress in Karnataka
In November 2008, Alva attracted controversy when she claimed that Congress seats for the elections in Karnataka were open to bidders rather than subject to meritocratic appointment after her son, Nivedith, was denied a seat to contest the Assembly elections. However, Congress denied her claims, ands she was dropped as AICC general secretary and also from the party’s election committee.
Exposing How Sonia Gandhi Insulted Dead Body Of PV Narasimha Rao
On 18 July 2022, a video clip of her interview with India Today went viral on social media in which she accused Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi of insulting former Indian Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. Interviewer Karan Thapar read an excerpt from Margaret’s book, Courage & Commitment: An Autobiography, in which she quoted,
The gun carriage bearing Narasimha’s body was not allowed to enter the AICC headquarters. Instead, it was parked on the pavement outside the gates, with chairs for party leaders outside the gate.”
Karan Thapar marked the behaviour as ‘Sonia Gandhi’s revenge’ for the way the investigation of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination had proceeded. During the interview, Alva said,
When a man is dead, you don’t treat him that way. And I was hurt. I have always regretted not walking away on that occasion but I did not want to insult his body by walking away…This is not the way to treat a dead leader”
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Mahila Siromani Award (1991)
- Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award (1991)
- Dr. T.M.A. Pai Foundation Outstanding Konkani Award (1991)
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of Mysore in recognition of contribution to National Development
- First Nelson Mandela Award for Minority Empowerment, awarded by the International Foundation for Minority
Empowerment (with consultative status with the UN) at a ceremony at the UN Church Centre in New York
- Global Leadership Award by Vital Voices Global Partnership, presented at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.
- Honoured by the President of South Africa H.E. Thabo Mbeki during his visit to India, for support to the African National
Congress during their struggle for freedom.
- Woman of Substance Award (2012) by the Mercy Ravi Foundation
Assets & Properties
- Deposits in Banks, Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies: Rs 41,95,753
- Bonds, Debentures and Shares in companies: Rs 34,57,833
- Motor Vehicles (Hyundai accent Model -2002): Rs 1,00,000
- Agricultural Land: Rs 39,50,000
- Houses: Rs 2,90,00,000 (as of 2009)
Her net worth as of 2009 is Rs 4,18,03,586.
- Reportedly, the Opposition had initially considered former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi for the position. However, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury turned to Alva after Quraishi declined their offer.
- She has pursued courses in oil painting, interior decoration, and Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement).
- In her early years as a lawyer, she founded the NGO Karuna, which works toward the welfare of women and children.
- She has a keen interest in Foreign affairs and women’s development issues.
- She is a member of various clubs like India International Centre, Delhi Gymkhana Club, and Bangalore Club.
- On 17 July 2022, the United Progressive Alliance along with some other non-UPA opposition parties nominated her for the post of Vice President of India in the 2022 election, scheduled to be held on 6 August 2022. Other nominees for the position are Yashwant Sinha (nominated by the Combined Opposition Parties) and Draupadi Murmu (nominated by the BJP-led NDA).
- She has lectured at Harvard University and Columbia University.
- During her tenure as Governor of Uttarakhand, she penned ‘Courage & Commitment: An Autobiography.’