Indira Gandhi : Iron Lady of India
Indira Gandhi or Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was a Prime Minister with the power. After became independent, India had many Prime Ministers but no one was like Mrs Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi served as the third prime minister of India after independence. She was the daughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. Indira Gandhi participated in India’s struggle for freedom with Mahatma Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was one of the very well known leaders in the Congress and served as India’s first woman Prime Minister. Till now, there is no woman Prime Minister of India after the independence.
Indira Gandhi was the most loved prime minister of India. She served as the Prime Minister of India for a very long time from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1984, till her assassination. Indira Gandhi was always being as the associate for her father in administrative work. Indira Gandhi was appointed as the president of the Indian National Congress in the year 1959. In the year 1966, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister succeeding Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Indira Gandhi emerged as the most powerful leader with her remarkable decision making. Indira Gandhi imposed the proclamation of emergency in the country from 1975 to 1977. In South Asia, India showed its supremacy during the years of leadership of Indira Gandhi. India in the Prime Ministry of Indira Gandhi emerged as strong economic, political and military country. In the year 2001, in a poll conducted by the India Today Magazine, Indira Gandhi was Voted as the Greatest Prime Minister of India. BBC world honoured Indira Gandhi with the name of ‘Woman of the Millennium.’
The early life of Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi was born on 19th November 1917 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru. Indira Gandhi was the only child of her parents as his younger brother died at a very young age. Indira Gandhi named by Rabindranath Tagore as Indira Priyadarshini Nehru.Indira Gandhi did schooling from St. Cecilia’s and St. Mary’s Christian convent School at Allahabad, Modern School in Delhi, the International School of Geneva and the Pupils Own School in Mumbai. However, till matriculation, Indira Gandhi was mostly taught by home tutors until 1934.
Indira Gandhi in her childhood lived a lonely life as her mother was bedridden due to illness and her father, being a national leader was always away from home. Indira Gandhi’s mother died due to tuberculosis. Indira Gandhi enrolled in the Somerville College for graduation in history in 1937 but due to her illness, Indira had to visit doctors frequently. For recovery from illness, Indira Gandhi had to make repeated trips to Switzerland. Unfortunately, Indira Gandhi returned to India because of her health and was not able to complete her degree. But later Oxford university conferred Indira Gandhi with a honours degree. Oxford University in the year 2001 honoured Indira Gandhi as one of the 10 illustrious graduates of Asia.
Indira Gandhi married Feroze Gandhi who was a Parsi. Feroze and Indira Gandhi knew each other from Allahabad. In UK, Feroze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi met each other when Feroze was studying at London School of Economics. The couple had two sons Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi entered the politics but the elder son Rajiv Gandhi was a pilot. It was believed that Sanjay Gandhi will emerge as the successor of Indira Gandhi but Sanjay Gandhi died in a flying accident in June 1989. Later, Rajiv Gandhi entered the Politics by quitting his job as a pilot in February 1981.
Indira Gandhi’s Achievements
- Indira Gandhi was Chief of the highly centralised staff of Jawaharlal Nehru’s administration from 1947 to 1964.
- Indira Gandhi was elected as the member of Rajya Sabha in 1964. Under the Government of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi was appointed as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
- In the year 1966, Indira Gandhi was appointed as the Prime Minister of India after the unfortunate death of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
- From 1966 till 1977, Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India. In her tenure as a Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi emerged as one of the most powerful leaders not just in India but in the world also. Indira Gandhi had commendable leadership skills. But in the year 1969, Indira Gandhi’s party saw a split due to internal disputes.
- In the Prime Minister tenure of Indira Gandhi, India developed as a great political and economic country in Asia. India’s foreign policies resulted in radical economic growth.
- Under the Prime Ministry of Indira Gandhi, 14 major commercial banks were nationalised which was a very crucial decision. Before this decision, there were only 8200 banks but after this decision, it raised to massive 62000. This resulted in investment in SMEs and agricultural sectors and increased the savings from household sectors.
- In 1971 during the oil crisis, oil companies were nationalised such as Bharat petroleum corporation (BPCL), Hindustan petroleum corporation and many more.
- In 1971, Indira Gandhi supported East Pakistan Which bled the formation of Bangladesh during the Pakistan civil war. India won the India-Pakistan war of 1971.
- Many states were declared under the administrative policy in Indira Gandhi’s leadership such as Punjab, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
- In Indira Gandhi’s Prime Ministry, India saw a huge growth rate in agriculture sector making itself sustain country by ‘The Green Revolution.’
- Indira Gandhi was famous for her tough decisions like the proclamation of emergency from 1975 to 1977.
- Indira Gandhi held many civil operations like the Operation ‘Blue Star’ to control the terrorism in Punjab. In 1983, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and many other supporters for Khalistan were killed under this operation which also resulted in killing many civilians at the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab.
The assassination of Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh on 31st October 1984 at her residence,1 Safdarjung Road, Delhi. The reason behind her assassination was the ‘Operation Blue Star’ which gutted the sentiments of the Sikh community.
Awards, Programmes and Institutions named after Indira Gandhi
- Indira Awas Yojana was named after Indira Gandhi which is the low-cost housing project for the poor people.
- Indira Gandhi International Airport was named after Indira Gandhi which is the Delhi International Airport.
- Indira Gandhi National Open (IGNOU) is named after her which is the largest University.
- The Congress party established the Indira Gandhi Award For National Integration in 1985 on her death anniversary.
- The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust established the Indira Gandhi Prize which is given annually.
Indira Gandhi was the iron lady with her strong and fearless decisions and excellent leadership skills. She is and will always be remembered as one of the best Prime Ministers of India.