November 27, 2022
indira gandhi

Indira Gandhi: The Iron Lady of India

Indira Gandhi was a woman who was a prominent political figure in India between 1966 and 1977, serving as its Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then as its first elected female Prime Minister from 1980 until her assassination in 1984.

Indira Gandhi served in various roles throughout her career, including that of an activist with the Indian National Congress, an administrative reformer of India’s “family planning” program. She is often considered the leader of India’s Independence Movement.

She pioneered several social welfare programs for poor children and women in particular during this period; these included the rural employment guarantee act (1947), child development services (1950), and mother-child health care centers (1976).

About Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was a woman who was the major political figure of India between 1966 and 1977, serving as its Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then as its first elected female Prime Minister from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Indira Gandhi served in various roles throughout her career, including that of an activist with the Indian National Congress, an administrative reformer of India’s “family planning” program. She is often considered the leader of India’s Independence Movement.

Life of Indira Gandhi

Her birth

Indira was born on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad in the United Provinces of British India. She was named Indira Priyadarshini Nehru by her mother.

She was named after her paternal great-grandfather, India Rajendra Pandit, who had served twice as the Chief Minister of Bengal, and her paternal great-grandfather and maternal grandfather, Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru, respectively.

Her Education

Indira obtained her early education from a local convent school, St. Mary’s High School, and then trained as a Lucknow University’s Women’s Field Force member. Indira gandhi completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936. She was admitted to the Elphinstone College Law College at the University of Bombay in 1937, where she completed her Postgraduate Diploma in law in 1938.

Indira gandhi married Feroze Gandhi on November 27, 1939, when she was 21 years old.

She moved with her husband to Paris, where she became active in politics under the tutelage of Percival Spear and Edouard Herriot as an activist for India’s independence movement, writing articles for Harijan.

Indira Gandhi Career

She served as the first Chairperson of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) from 1977 until her assassination in 1984. She was also the first Chairperson of the National Mission for the Safai Karamcharis from 1985 until her death.

Indira was elected to four terms as a Prime Minister: from 1966 to 1977 and then from 1980 until her assassination in 1984.

Prime Minister

She served as the Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 to 1984. She was the first woman to hold the office.

It was Indira who declared during an emergency that “India is Indira, and Indira is India” (“Indira hatao, desh bachao”). It became her most famous slogan. Her political campaigns were often built around personalities rather than issues, and she was Italian-born Indian movie star Dilip Kumar in 1965 for his alleged pro-Pakistani leanings.

In 1975, following the Allahabad High Court ruling against her election from Rae Bareilly, she represented herself in court during hearings in Delhi despite objections from senior counsel appearing on behalf of her party.

In the 1977 general election, she led her party to victory yet again. However, the opposition Janata Party alliance won a more significant number of seats and formed the government with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister.

Indira was assassinated in 1984 by Sikh extremists in retaliation for her decision to storm the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star. Because of this, Indira’s son Rajiv Gandhi was asked by President Zail Singh to take over as Prime Minister.

In 2004, Life Magazine listed Indira Gandhi as number 7 among the Top 10 Political Icons of all time.

Personal Life

Indira married Feroze Gandhi on November 27, 1939, when she was 21 years old. She moved with him to a flat in London, where she launched her political career.

In 1940, they shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai), where her husband entered the film industry. She had two sons and a daughter, but they separated in 1946, after which she moved out of their house. In 1950, her father-in-law died, and her mother-in-law became abusive toward the young Gandhi children. They left India for Europe in 1950 and lived together for some time before getting divorced in 1958.

Gandhi never remarried and stayed single for the rest of her life.

State of Emergency

Indira announced a state of emergency in 1975, and then a year later, when she was re-elected, she imposed a period of “internal emergency” lasting 21 months. Under this executive order, many democratic rights were suspended, and thousands of people were imprisoned without trial. As the political turmoil in India increased, millions of ordinary citizens were arrested by her government.

In the 1977 elections, she lost to Morarji Desai, and his Indian National Congress (Congress) came into power. There were allegations that her election was rigged because she had made massive misuse of official machinery during elections. After the defeat, Indira was expelled from Congress Party and founded a new party called Congress (I) to prevent a split in Congress votes.

Operation Blue Star

In June 1984, the Indian Army raided the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s most sacred place, and removed the sacrosanct “Amrit,” a ceremonial cup containing liquid sacred to Sikhs. Her government denied her army permission to enter the temple. The Army said it was ordered to invade the Golden Temple by Indira Gandhi’s administration.

The Sikh religion forbids the entry of non-Sikhs into the sacred precincts of any temple; this is considered trespassing and sacrilege by Sikhs.

Indira Gandhi Death

Her assassination triggered a massive nationwide protest and led to the 1984 elections. The Congress Party slipped in the elections, which led to its defeat.

Awards and Honors

Indira Gandhi was commonly called the Iron Lady of India.

In 1977, The Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development was instituted.

During 1982, Indira Gandhi was proclaimed “Woman of the Millennium” by The Steel Magnolia International.

In 1983, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust was established for providing drinking water to drought-hit areas. It is known as Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust now.

She was awarded Bharat Ratna.

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