Pupul Jayakar - Career


After settling in Bombay, she launched "Toy Cart", an English-language children's magazine illustrated by noted painters Jamini Roy and M.F. Hussain. She became politically involved after becoming assistant to Indian National Congress|Congress activist Mridula Sarabhai in the Kasturba Trust in 1940. She was also appointed assistant secretary of the women’s affairs in the National Planning Committee, then headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. In the late 1940s she became friends with J Krishnamurti and also became involved in the handloom industry. She established the Weavers' Service Centre, Besant Nagar, in Madras (Chennai), under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles.

Early on, she became close friends with Indira Gandhi who, on becoming prime minister in 1966, appointed Jayakar as her cultural adviser. She became the executive director and later chair-person, of the Handicrafts and Handloom Corporation of India. From 1974 for three years she chaired the All India Handicrafts Board (HHEC).

She was behind the Festivals of India organized in London, Paris and America lasting several months in the early 1980s and the 'Apna Utsav' (Our Festivals) during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi, to whom also she was a cultural adviser, and held the rank of Cabinet minister. In 1982, she was appointed vice-president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), and remained vice-chairman of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust (1985–1989), apart from prime minister's adviser on heritage and cultural resources. At the request of her friend Indira Gandhi, she founded the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage in 1984.

Pupul Jayakar was one of the enduring supporters of the 'Hungry Generation', a literary movement in Bengal, and had helped the Hungryalites during their trial in 1961. She was active with the Krishnamurti Foundation in India until her death. She helped in the establishment of the Krishnamurti Foundation in India, U. S. A., England and some Latin American countries. She also played a great part in running the Rishi Valley School at Madanapalle, Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh.

She inspired many a young girl to be named after her unique name, prominent among those is Mrs. Nandini Pushkar Trivedi née Miss Nandini Vyas, the famous educationist who runs a school for the rural children on Bhopal-Berasia Road, by the name of Brigadier Trivedi Memorial Academy. Her popular name is Pupul, so kept by her parents from Varanasi, who were greatly influenced by Pupul Jayakar's work, and that of her sister Nandini Mehta. Nandini Trivedi also named her niece Radhika Vyas after Pupul Jayakar's daughter. Both Pupul and Nandini settled down in Mumbai.

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