Meira Kumar : Making history.
The lower house of Parliament elected Meira Kumar, a former diplomat and five-term Congress party lawmaker, as Speaker, the first time a woman has been chosen to run a male-dominated chamber known for its rowdy debates and frequent walkouts. Kumar, 64, was the only candidate and had the support of the ruling Congress-led coalition and the alliance led by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Her appointment as Speaker, or presiding officer, was announced by stand-in speak er Manik Rao Gavit in the Lok Sabha, or lower house, in New Delhi. India has had a woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, while its sitting President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, and the leaders of four of its leading political parties are women. Sonia Gandhi, Indira’s daughter-in-law, heads the Congress. The house Kumar will preside over contains 59 woman lawmakers, the most ever, comprising about 10 per cent of the total 543 elected members. Legislative efforts to reserve a third of seats in the lower house and state assemblies for women have stalled. She is the daughter of the late former deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram, and holds a law degree.