Complete biography of Indira Gandhi – The Iron lady of India.
Except Margaret Thatcher of Britain there was no women leader taller than Indira Gandhi. During her 15 years of rule she dominated national as well as international scenario. Her creation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan after Bangladesh war was a daring act. This act established her as a strong leader all over the world.
Indira was born on 19th November, 1917 to Kamla Nehru and Jawahar Lal Nehru, first prome minister of independence India, at Anand Bhavan in Allahabad. When she was born she was named Priyadarshini. Her early education took place under the guidance of her parents and grandfather. Later on she was enrolled at Shantiniketan. But she had to leave Shantiniketan and accompany her mother to Germany for treatment of tuberculosis. When she completed her schooling, she was admitted to the Oxford University in England.
On March 26, 1942 Indira Priyadarshini Nehru and Feroze Gandhi got married at Anand Bhavan in Allahabad. Her political life started when she joined the female members of the household in nursing the victims of police brutality. She constituted her first political brigade known as ‘Vanar Sena’ and worked as an auxiliary group to congress Party. Politics was in Indira Gandhi’s blood. She actively participated in freedom struggle throughout the pre independence era. Many times she was sent to jail.
Post independence she got actively involved with her father in the resurrection of nation. Meanwhile, her relationship with Feroz Gandhi soured. She assumed the role of her father’s official hostess. After the death of her father, when Shri Lal Bhadur Shastri took the reigns of the nation she was allocated information and Broadcasting ministry. When Shastri died in 1966, Congress party elected her as the Prime Minister. Indira was popular not only with the liberals but also with the minorities such as the Muslims and the Harihans.
Indira Gandhi’s initial stint as prime minister was somewhat less than brilliant. To eradicate poverty, Mrs. Gandhi pursued a forceful policy of land reform in 1969 and placed a ceiling ion personal income, private property and corporate profits. She also nationalized the major banks, a bold step amidst a growing rift between herself and the party elders. The Congress expelled her for ‘indiscipline’ on November 12, 1969, an action that split the party in two factions: the Congress (O)—for Organization—under Moraji Desai and the Congress (R)—for Requisition—under Indira Gandhi. She continued as the Prime Minister with support from communists, Sikhs and regional parties. She again firmly established herself at the pinnacle of power when she rode to power in general; election of March 1971. Neither Gandhi’s consolidation of power, nor her authoritative style of administration, not even her public speaking of radical reforms was enough to meet the deepening economic crisis generated by the massive cost of the 1971 war with Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. Both Gandhi’s office and character came under severe tests when an all-party had put No-confidence motion in Parliament and a writ had been issued by the Allahabad High Court invalidating her 1971 election and making her ineligible to occupy her seat for six years. On June 25, 1975: the President declared an Emergency, and the government suspended civil rights.
The Reign to Terror, as some called it, continued until January 18, 1977, when Gandhi suddenly relaxed the Emergency, announced the next General Elections in March and released her opponents from prison. With elections only two months away, both J.P.Narayan and Morarji Desai reactivated the multiparty front, which campaigned as the Janata Party and rode anti-Emergency sentiment to secure a clear majority in the Lok Sabha (House of the People), the lower house of Parliament. And Moraji Desia became India’s fourth Prime Minister (1977-79). But due to factionalism Janta Party government couldn’t last long and general elections was held in January 1980. Gandhi and her party renamed Congress (R) as Congress (I)—I for Indira—cimpaigned on the slogan ‘Elect a Government That Works!’ and regained power. Secessionist forces in Punjab and in the northeast and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979 consume her energy. She began to involve the armed forces in resolving violent domestic conflicts between 1980 and 1984. In May 1984, Sikh extremists occupied the Golden Temple in Amristar, converting it into a refuge for terrorists. Gandhi responded in early June when she launched Operation Blue Star, which killed and wounded hundreds of soldiers, insurgents and civilians. A few months later, in October 31, 1984, two of Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards took revenge by assassinating Gandhi on the grounds of her home. Thus ended the life of the first woman prime minister of India.
She emerged as the global leader. A poll by BBC News on-line has voted indira Gandhi as the greatest woman in the past 1,000 years. Mrs. Gandhi acquired a formidable international reputation as a ‘Statesman’. She was referred as the Empress of India as she directed the country towards newer horizons. In fact she was a global leader during whose tenure India strove extremely well in her international relations.