Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Indira Gandhi

“People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.” (Indira Gandhi)

Known as the women of Millennium, Indira Gandhi was the first woman Prime Minister and one of the most powerful prime ministers this country has seen. As a prime Minister, she was known for her political hardheartedness and exceptional centralization of power.

She was born in November 19, 1917 in Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. She was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and Kamala Nehru. Born into such a distinguished political family, Indira moved towards politics. She was a great crusader of world peace. Indira started his political career when she turned twelve years of age. When she was just 13 years old, Indira organized a 'Monkey Army' (Vanar Sena) comprising of young teenagers which proved her intention to fight for the independence of her country.

She completed her studies in Oxford University. In 1938, she joined Indian National Congress, something she always wanted to do. She had been married in 1942 to Feroze Gandhi, a parliamentarian and prominent politician. The same year both of them got jailed during the freedom movement. Two sons were born to her- Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.

After Independence, when her father, Jawahar Lal Nehru became the prime minister of India, Indira started serving her father unofficially as a personal assistant. After Nehru's death, Indira appointed as a member of Rajya Sabha and became Minister of Information and Broadcasting under Lal Bahadur Shastri's Ministry.

In 1966, after death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, congress officially elected Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India. But in 1969, Congress split in to two as the socialists led by Indira, and the conservatives led by Morarji Desai. Indira Gandhi's leadership and administration skill surprised even the senior leaders of congress. Indira reached the acme of her popularity after India's decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. Indira tried to keep a close relation with Soviet Union and other neighbouring countries of India such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc

In 1975, her election to Parliament was declared invalid and she declared internal emergency. During this period, Gandhi granted herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on civil liberties and political opposition. Most of her political opponents were imprisoned and the press was censored. But Emergency led to her with her son Sanjay Gandhi defeat in 1977 elections.

Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980 with an overwhelming majority. Gandhi presided over three five year plans as prime minister. To deal with India's food problems, Gandhi introduced Green Revolution in India, to pursue agricultural self-sufficiency.

Mrs Gandhi, served as prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Being a central figure of Indian National Congress, Indira Gandhi was one of the most efficient Prime Ministers of India and was credited with great achievements. Noteworthy among them are nationalization of banks, liberation of Bangladesh and 20 point program for the upliftment of the poor. She was honoured with 'Bharat Ratna' in 1971.

In 1984, June 3- 8, Indira Gandhi ordered for a military operation named Operation Blue star to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers who had sought cover in the Amritsar Harmandir Sahib Complex, Punjab. Military officials attacked Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where militants were hiding with heavy ammunition. Operation Bluestar left nearly 600 people, including army personnel, militants and civilians dead.

Mrs. Gandhi, met her tragic end on 31st October 1984, when she was brutally assassinated by her own guards who were upset over her government's actions in Punjab.