Former President's wife Usha Narayanan passes away

Former President's wife Usha Narayanan passes away
New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Former President K R Narayanan's wife Usha, the only person of foreign origin to have become India's First Lady, who had carved a niche for herself as a champion of social and women's issues and a prolific writer today passes away.

Former first lady Usha Narayanan, who was under treatment in a critical condition at a hospital here, died today. Narayanan, 86, breathed her last at 5.30 PM, hospital sources said.

She had been admitted to the Gangaram hospital here on December 31 for a blood transfusion due to a severe drop in her haemoglobin level and was being treated by Dr Anshu Rohtagi.

She was the wife of former President the late K R Narayananan, who served in the post from July 25, 1997 to July 25, 2002.

She always believed that women can be the determining force in taking sustainable development to a new high.

"Reserving 33 per cent seats at the grassroots democratic bodies and election of almost one million women to such bodies is a good example of empowering women," she had once told a global conference.

Born as Ma Tint Tint in 1923 in Burma, now Myanmar, she adopted the name Usha and became an Indian citizen after marrying Narayanan on June 8, 1951.

Their marriage needed a special clearance from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru because Narayanan was in the Indian Foreign Service and Usha was a foreigner.

Usha's husband died on November 9, 2005.

Usha took her BA Hons. Degree from Rangoon University and worked as a Lecturing Tutor in the Department of Burmese Language and Literature of the University.

She came to India on scholarship and took her M A Degree from the Delhi School of Social Work, specialising in juvenile delinquency.

Usha worked with the All India Radio for many years, translating and broadcasting news and also moderating discussions in its external services.

She also translated many Burmese short stories into English, most of which have been published in a national fortnightly journal.

Usha's translation of short stories by influential Burmese politician-writer Thein Pe Myint was published as a book titled "Sweet and Sour" in 1998.

These stories were later translated into Malayalam, Tamil, Oriya, Hindi and Chinese.

Usha also had keen interest in landscaping, gardening, orchid cultivation, Ikebana and Bonsai.

She was a member of International Women's Clubs, University Women's Associations and associated with a number of women's and cultural organisations.

She attended the Conference of First Ladies of Asia and Pacific in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 that discussed the relevance of micro credit for economic empowerment of poor women in villages.


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