Rediff India Abroad
 Rediff India Abroad Home  |  All the sections


The Web

India Abroad

Sign up today!

Get news updates:
Mobile Downloads
Text 67333
Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Contact the editors
Discuss this Article

Home > News > PTI

'First couples' portrait to be unveiled in Parliament

December 02, 2007 14:57 IST

They were the first couple to be elected to Indian Parliament. And on December 5, in recognition of their contribution to Indian polity, a portrait of Joachim and Violet Alva would be unveiled in Parliament.

It was in 1952 that Violet was elected to the Rajya Sabha and Joachim to the Lok Sabha, both from the then Bombay state, making them the first couple to be elected to Parliament. The unveiling of the portrait coincides with the centenary year of Joachim Alva. Next year would be the centenary of Violet.

It was during his stormy university career that he met Violet, a shy, demure Gujarati girl. While he was a Konkani from Mangalore and was of the Catholic faith, she was a Protestant from Gujarat.

Given the orthodoxy of that era, these were hardly the ingredients of a socially acceptable and successful marriage. However, they defied tradition and triumphed, forming a successful partnership in personal as well as public life.

By the time Violet Hari became Violet Alva on November 20, 1937, she was a transformed person, venturing on to public platforms and developing into a confident speaker in several languages. Violet and Joachim Alva set up legal practice together in Mumbai, later deciding that they could make a more meaningful contribution to society in journalism.

On August 9, 1943, the first anniversary of Quit India Day, the couple founded 'Forum', a weekly political news-magazine. Violet later founded a women's monthly 'Begum' renamed 'Indian Woman'.

The period after 1950 witnessed the decline of 'FORUM' as Parliament and his constituency claimed most of Joachim's time.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in the General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 from North Kannara, making him and Violet the first couple to be elected to Parliament.

Joachim, born in the temple town of Udipi in the then South Canara district of the erstwhile Madras Presidency on January 21, 1907, played an important role in the freedom struggle.

He co-founded the Nationalist Christian Party with the goal of drawing the Christian community into the freedom movement. Imprisoned twice for a total period of three years, he was a jail companion of many of India's outstanding patriots and national leaders such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jaiprakash Narain, B G Kher and Morarji Desai.

Violet was born in Ahmedabad, the eighth of nine children of lower middle-class parents on April 24, 1908.

Having lost both parents when she was 16, her older brothers and only sister provided for her education till her matriculation.  It was Joachim who encouraged her to enter politics, and she worked for him when he was put up as a Congress candidate in the Bombay Provincial Legislative Assembly elections in 1936.

On the 32nd anniversary of her wedding, Violet died, Joachim at her bedside. Joachim died on June 28, 1979.

© Copyright 2007 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.