Contents: Introduction. I. Bharat Ratna: 1. Aruna Asaf Ali. 2. Indira Gandhi. 3. Lata Mangeshkar. 4. M.S. Subbulakshmi. 5. Mother Teresa. II. Freedom struggle: 6. Annie Besant. 7. Bhikaji Cama. 8. Kasturba Gandhi. 9. Lakshmi Sahgal. 10. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. 11. Sarojini Naidu. 12. Usha Mehta. 13. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. III. Social reform: 14. Aruna Roy. 15. Banoo Jehangir Coyaji. 16. Ela Bhatt. 17. Fatima Bi. 18. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. 19. Kiran Bedi. 20. Medha Patkar. 21. Muthulakshmi Reddi. 22. Pandita Ramabai. 23. Sister Nivedita. IV. Literature: 24. Amrita Pritam. 25. Anita Desai. 26. Arundhati Roy. 27. Mahadevi Verma. 28. Mahasweta Devi. V. Art: 29. Amrita Sher-Gil. 30. Anjolie Ela Menon. VI. Music: 31. Begum Akhtar. 32. D.K. Pattammal. 33. Gangubai Hangal. 34. Girija Devi. 35. Kishori Amonkar. 36. Prabha Atre. VII. Dance: 37. Balasaraswati. 38. Mallika Sarabhai. 39. Padma Subrahmanyam. 40. Rukmini Devi Arundale. 41. Sanjukta Panigrahi. 42. Sitara Devi. 43. Sonal Mansingh. 44. Yamini Krishnamurthy. VIII. Cinema: 45. Mira Nair. 46. Shabana Azmi. IX. Sports and Adventure: 47. Bachendri Pal. 48. Kalpana Chawla. 49. Karnam Malleswari. 50. P.T. Usha.
"One hundred years ago in India, many people believed a woman’s place was in the home. Women were excluded from voting booths, most colleges and universities, and all but a few professions. Now women can be found in the halls of Congress, science labs, athletic fields—even outer space. But they didn’t arrive there overnight.
"India’s 50 Most Illustrious Women is a sincere endeavour to recognise contributions made by women in India in the 20 century. The anthology features woman who, in their diverse ways, have not only left an indelible imprint on the nation’s history but also in some significant way represent the struggles, sacrifices, achievements and aspirations of the entire womenfolk of India. These are the crusaders to whom the present generation owe their relatively secure existence and status of equality and prospects of opportunity. This book is the account of such women achievers.
"Through their brief, cameo profiles, we hope the readers will be able to perceive the rise of women on the national scene as it is reflected in the lives of the women. As it is said, history is nothing but the essence of innumerable biographies.
"Experience the incredible changes of the century, as we look back at the personalities, achievements, and voices that defined each decade. You’ll meet some of the extraordinary women who redefined a woman’s place in India."