The mischievous grin and sparkling eyes have remained unchanged through the years. As the matriarch of the post-Independence women’s movement in India, Vina Mazumdar was among the first of the women academics to combine activism with detailed scholarly research. As such, she has brought historical and legal insights to the contemporary problems of women, in a manner that had not been done in India before.

It was Mazumdar’s seminal ideas that convinced administrative authorities as well as fellow academics that ‘women’s studies’ deserved to be worked on as an autonomous discipline. And to her goes the credit for the number of institutes—such as the Centre for Women’s Development Studies she founded—engaged in research on the subject.

As member-secretary of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, she practically single-handedly wrote its report—Towards Equality—which became a touchstone for future generations of women activists and scholars.A professor of Political Science for 16 years, ‘Bina-di’ is an institution not only among her students who still remember her "tremendous charisma"—Janata Dal leader Jaipal Reddy and former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey are two—but also in the academic world at large.