Nayantara Sahgal Age, Husband, Children, Family, Biography & More

Quick Info→
Hometown: Allahabad, British India
Marital Status: Widow
Age: 95 Years

Profession(s) • Writer
• Journalist [1]The Caravan
• Political commentator [2]The Caravan
Physical Stats & More
Eye Colour Brown
Hair Colour Brown (dyed)
Awards, Honours, Achievements 1985: The Sinclair Prize (Britain) for fiction ‘Rich Like Us’ [3]The Kennedy Center
1986: The Sahitya Akademi Award for her fiction novel ‘Rich Like Us’ [4]The Kennedy Center
1987: The Commonwealth Writers Award (Eurasia) for the book ‘Plans for Departure’
1997: Awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leeds, the United Kingdom for Literature [5]The Kennedy Center
2002: The Alumna Achievement Award from Wellesley College, United States [6]The Kennedy Center
Personal Life
Date of Birth 10 May 1927 (Tuesday) [7]Library of Congress
Age (as of 2022) 95 Years
Birthplace Allahabad, British India (now Prayagraj in India)
Zodiac sign Taurus
Nationality Indian
Hometown Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh [8]The Caravan
School Attended a boarding school
College/University Wellesley College, United States [9]The Telegraph
Educational Qualification Graduated [10]The Telegraph
Religion Hinduism [11]Hindustan Times
Political Inclination Congress [12]The Indian Express
Controversy Nayantara Sahgal returned Sahitya Akademi Award in a protest [13]NDTV
Reportedly, in 2015, Nayantara Sahgal returned her Sahitya Akademi Award – a literary honour in India annually conferred by India’s National Academy of Letters to recognise and promote excellence in Indian writing and acknowledge new trends – in a protest against the murders of writers by the rebels. [14]NDTV While talking about this in an interview, Nayantara Sahgal said,
“In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award.” [15]NDTV
Relationships & More
Marital Status Widow
Affairs/Boyfriends Edward Nirmal Mangat Rai [16]The Hindu

Marriage Date • First marriage : 2 Jaunary 1949 [17]Out of Line by Rity Menon
• Second marriage : 1979 [18]The Hindu
Husband/Spouse • First Husband: Gautam Sahgal (m. 1949; div. 1967)

• Second Husband: Edward Nirmal Mangat Rai (m. 1979 – till his death in 2003)

Children Son– Ranjit Sahgal (from first marriage) [19]Out of Line by Ritu Menon
Daughter– Nonika Sahgal and Gita Sahgal (Writer and journalist) [20]Gita Sahgal – Twitter (from first marriage) [21]Out of Line by Ritu Menon

Parents Father– Ranjit Sitaram Pandit (Indian Barrister and Politician)

Mother– Vijay Lakshmi Pandit (Indian Diplomat and Politician)

Siblings Brother– None
Sister(s)– Chandralekha Mehta and Rita Dar

Other Relatives Jawaharlal Nehru (uncle)

Indira Gandhi (cousin)


Some Lesser Known Facts About Nayantara Sahgal

  • Nayantara Sahgal is an Indian writer and author, who has also worked as a journalist and political commentator. [22]The Caravan She is known for her outspoken views.
  • She belongs to an illustrious political family – the Nehru-Gandhi family; however, in an interview, Nayantara claimed that she belongs only to the Nehru family. [23]ITV India
  • Nayantara Sahgal, known for her outspoken views, was born in the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family, [24]ITV India and grew up with her first cousin, Indira Gandhi, in Anand Bhawan, the family home in Allahabad. [25]The Caravan

    Nayantara Sahgal (left) with Indira Gandhi (right) – Picture from Nayantara Pandit’s wedding to her first husband, Gautam Sahgal, in Allahabad in 1949

  • Nayantara’s mother was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post in pre-independence, and an Ambassador to United Nations. [26]The Print
  • Nayantara considered Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru her father figure after her father, Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, died during his fourth imprisonment. [27]Indian Cultural Forum
  • A picture of Nayantara went viral in which she was greeting her uncle, Jawaharlal Nehru, with a peck on his cheek when he reached the London airport. [28]Aaj Tak Reportedly, it was falsely claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru was being greeted by some British woman; however, the picture was declared to be fake by media outlets. [29]Aaj Tak
  • She was fascinated by the famous Japanese sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. [30]The Hindu
  • In an interview, Nayantara expressed her thoughts on ‘Hindutva’ and said that she believed that the term ‘Hindutva’ had twisted and divided Hinduism from other religions instead of binding all of them together, [31]Hindustan Times and that was the reason she did not adopt any kind of religious identity post-independence. [32]Hindustan Times Nayantara added,

    I refused a religious identity when we attained Independence because we’re a deeply religious country with many religions. My problem is with Hindutva because I’m a Hindu myself and it makes me sad that the Hindutva mentality has divided us into Hindus and others. Hindutva is a complete distortion of Hinduism.” [33]Hindustan Times

  • Reportedly, Nayantara immensely fell in love with E.N. Mangat Rai, an ICS Officer [34]The Hindu while Nayantara and Gautam Sahgal were still together. [35]The Hindu
  • In an interview, Nayantara revealed that she couldn’t adjust to the marriage with Gautam Sahgal as there were many differences between them due to different backgrounds. [36]ITV India
  • Nearly twelve years after her divorce from Gautam Sahgal, Nayantara and E. N. Mangat Rai got married in 1979. [37]The Hindu
  • According to the sources, she exchanged over 6000 letters with Edward Nirmal Mangat Rai for over three years before their marriage. [38]The Hindu Later, most of the letters were published in a book titled ‘Relationship,’ authored by Nayantara herself, which spoke out about their “private relationship” publically for the first time in 1994. [39]The Hindu
  • Growing up in a family with a strong political background, Nayantara developed her political evaluation and decided to write about political policies and their impact on society.
  • Nayantara’s work has been a blend of her personal and political experiences.
  • In an interview, Nayantara recollected the time when she was a child and her parents would be often locked up in prison as political prisoners, and the children were told not to cry as the family made them believe that it was a moment for them to feel proud of their parents. [40]Hindustan Times According to her, the first time when her father was arrested, her mother bought them a chocolate cake to cheer them up, and that was the reason her first book was titled ‘Prison and Chocolate Cake’ (1954). [41]Hindustan Times Sahgal said,
    Seeing our parents go so often to the prison as political prisoners, we thought that jail-going was a profession. We were taught not to shed tears in front of the policemen. I remember us teary when my father, a Marathi scholar, Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, was arrested for the first time we were very sad and our mother ordered a chocolate cake to cheer us.” [42]Hindustan Times
  • Nayantara has worked as a political columnist with Sunday Standard for nearly fourteen years. [43]The Caravan
  • Reportedly, Sahgal wrote against the declaration of Emergency in India (1975-1977) by her cousin, Indira Gandhi. The article brought a strain on their relationship. [44]Hindustan Times While recalling that time, Nayantara said,
    I was very close to my cousin Indira Gandhi. I have fond memories of putting together my mathematics homework. However, my mother and I were very strong opponents of the Emergency imposed in 1975 and Indira who liked no opposition broke all ties with me. Later, Rajiv Gandhi made things all right and I am in touch with Sonia and the children.” [45]Hindustan Times
  • Nayantara was the Fellow of the National Humanities Center (1983-1984), [46]National Humanities Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the United States. [47]The Kennedy Center
  • She has also served as the Vice President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. [48]The Times of India
  • ‘Out of Line’ – a biography of Nayantara Sahgal – has been written by one of the popular writers in India, Ritu Menon. The book gives the readers an insight into Nayantara’s personal, political, and literary life.

    ‘Out of Line’ by Ritu Menon

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↑1, ↑2, ↑8, ↑22, ↑25, ↑43 The Caravan
↑3, ↑4, ↑5, ↑6, ↑47 The Kennedy Center
↑7 Library of Congress
↑9, ↑10 The Telegraph
↑11, ↑31, ↑32, ↑33 Hindustan Times
↑12 The Indian Express
↑13, ↑14, ↑15 NDTV
↑16, ↑18, ↑30, ↑34, ↑35, ↑37, ↑38, ↑39 The Hindu
↑17 Out of Line by Rity Menon
↑19, ↑21 Out of Line by Ritu Menon
↑20 Gita Sahgal – Twitter
↑23, ↑24, ↑36 ITV India
↑26 The Print
↑27 Indian Cultural Forum
↑28, ↑29 Aaj Tak
↑40, ↑41, ↑42, ↑44, ↑45 Hindustan Times
↑46 National Humanities Center
↑48 The Times of India

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