Captain Lakshmi Sehgal

Lakshmi Sehgal was an activist of the Indian independence struggle and an officer of the Indian National Army (INA). She is remembered as Captain Lakshmi in reference to the rank she held in the INA

This article will give details about Captain Lakshmi Sehgal within the context of the IAS Exam

The early life of Lakshmi Sehgal

Captain Lakshmi Sehgal was born as Lakshmi Swaminathan in the Pattambi district of Kerala on 24 October 1914. She as the daughter of S. Swaminathan, a lawyer and A.V. Ammukutty, also known as Ammu Swaminathan, a social worker and Indian Independence activist.

Lakshmi studied at Queen Mary’s College and received her MBBS degree from Madras Christian college in 1938. She left for Singapore in 1940.

Lakshmi Sehgal’s role in the Indian Army

It was during her stay in Singapore where she would come in contact with members of the Azad Hind Fauz

When Singapore fell to the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942, Dr Lakshmi was provided aid to the many prisoners of wars captured during the Japanese onslaught. These prisoners were also keen to join a Japanese aided Indian independence army. World War II provided the perfect opportunity in overthrowing British colonial rule in India. A Council of Action was formed in this regard consisting of Indian nationalists were formed but no approvals were given from the Japanese forces were forthcoming.

The Japanese venture in creating an overseas army made headway when Subash Chandra Bose arrived in Singapore on July 2 1843. He not only sought to induct fighting men into his Azad Hind Fauz but also women with the same mettle and determination. Word of his recruitment drive reached Dr Lakshmi who sought a meeting with Bose. The outcome was a decree to set up a women’s regiment which would be henceforth known as the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. Dr Lakshmi Swaminathan took up the mantle of Captain Lakshmi, an identity she would carry for the rest of her life.

On 8 July 1943, Captain Lakshmi had started recruiting other women into the INA and a regiment of 1500 women soldiers was formed. In the Provisional Government of Azad Hind formed by Subhas Chandra Bose, Sehgal was took over the portfolio of Women’s Affairs and Rani of Jhansi Regiment.

The INA attacked Burma with the Japanese army during operation U-go in December 1944. But following the disastrous battle of Imphal, they were forced to retreat from northeast India. Captain Lakshmi was captured by the British Army in Burma in May 1945 and remained there until March 1946, during which she was sent to India to stand trial. The trials in Delhi (known as the Red Fort Trials) were a crucial turning point in the Indian Independence Struggle as it brought a new wave of nationalism and popular discontent, hastening the end of British colonialism in India.

Later Years of Lakshmi Sehgal

Captain Lakshmi married Prem Kumar Sahgal in 1947. They settled in Kanpur where she used her medical practice to aid refugees coming in during the Partition of India.

In 1971 Lakshmi Sahgal became a part of the  Communist Party of India (Marxist) and represented the party in the Rajya Sabha. She ran a small clinic in Kanpur was still seeing patients regularly by 2006, aged 92.

Captain Lakshmi Sehgal: UPSC Exam Notes – Download PDF Here

In 1998, Sahgal was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by President K. R. Narayanan. 

She fought the presidential elections in 2002, being the sole opponent of A.P.J Abdul Kalam (Born on 15 October 1931) who emerged victorious.

On 19 July 2012, Sahgal died on 23 July 2012 at the age of 97 at Kanpur. 

To this day she is still revered in India as a freedom fighter and the champion of woman’s rights who made a significant contribution to Indian society.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Captain Lakshmi Sehgal


Q 1. Who was Captain Lakshmi Sehgal?

Ans. Captain Lakshmi Sehgal was an officer in the Indian Navy Army (INA). She was also an activist of the Indian independence struggle. She was also the Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government.

Q 2. Who was Lakshmi Swaminathan?

Ans. Lakshmi Swaminathan was the real name of Captain Lakshmi Sehgal. When a women’s regiment was formed in the INA by Subhash Chandra Bose, she became one of the key faces of the all-women brigade and earned the title of Captain Lakshmi.

Aspirants can find complete information regarding the Government Exams through the linked article. More exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below

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