Free Press Journal

Tale of two ‘Iron Ladies’ of India: Rani Laxmi Bai and Indira Gandhi


Rani Laxmi Bai was the queen of the princely state of Jhansi, located in the northern side of India. She was one of the leading personalities of the first war of India’s Independence, which started in 1857. Commonly known as ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ her original name was ‘Manikarnika’ who was born in a Maratha family in Varanasi. Her name ‘Laxmibai’ was changed after her marriage to King of Jhansi Gangadhar Rao Newalkar.

Interestingly Rani Laxmi Bai shares her birthday, with the ‘Iron Lady’ of India and the first and only woman Prime Minster Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

Laxmi Bai and Indira Gandhi – are till date idolised by many people in India for their bravery and valiant contribution to the society. Both remain the source of inspiration for many. Today, on their birth anniversary, we remember both the iron ladies of India – one who died for her states, during the pre-independence fight, while the other was assassinated in the post-independence era.

Mighty Warriors:

Commonly known as ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ – Laxmi Bai brought glory to the whole nation as well as the whole creed of women not only in India but around the world. Breaking the ideas of society, Laxmi Bai took over the battlefield and outstood thousands of men with her warrior spirit. She cut across the social constraints of that time and also refused to accept her fate as a ‘woman’. There are very few who successfully marked them name in the history of India, Rani Laxmi Bai was one of them. With her foresight and firm decision, Rani Laxmi Bai brought glory to all the women in country.

Indira Gandhi was born in one of the most powerful family in India, she was the daughter of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Known as the ‘Iron Lady’ marked her first step towards creating history by becoming the first women Prime Minister of India in 1966. She also holds the distinction of been the second longest serving Prime Minister of India. During her tenure as Prime Minister she faced the toughest situation of her time.

From thrones to swords

Rani Laxmi Bai, born in Brahmin Maratha family and later married to King of Jhansi, sacrificed her life to save Jhansi from the Britishers. Throughout her life she tried to convince the Jhansi women that the British need to be send back and one doesn’t need to be afraid of them. Her spirit was mighty as Lion; even Britishers were also amazed at her courage.

Indira Gandhi on the same note, faced hardships even though she was born in the royal Nehru family. She brought her extraordinary skills in politics and build her own reputation, kicking off the criticism she was prone to. In her overall political career Indira Gandhi was holding her intelligence as a sword.

Life of struggler

Laxmi Bai, after death of her husband-Ganagdhar Rao, the British East India Company rejected her adopted son as the next King of Jhansi and asked her to leave the fort. British cheated her twice and the struggle to get back her ‘Jhansi’ brought her to the battlefield. As a result she was transformed from being a ‘housewife’ to a leader of an army and eventually the most important leader of the Indian Rebellion in less than a year.

Indira Gandhi shared a bleak relationship with her father, mainly through letters. As she was the only child, Indira Gandhi grew up with her mother, who was mostly bed-ridden due to illness and later died early. Indira Gandhi lived an unhappy and lonely childhood. When she came to power she was called as ‘Gundi Gudiya’ by the conservatives. Criticism followed her for few years but she struggled and engraved her name in the history of Indian politics.

A tale of courage and victory

Rani Laxmi Bai was one of the leading figures in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. For Indians it was a symbol of resistance to the rule of the British East India Company in the subcontinent. She was more than a Martial leader and in her time she cast aside many conventions and united people of all caste and religion in her cause, mostly women. She separated the prevailing ails in the society and also encouraged other women to do the same. Young Rani’s head rested on the blood of the slain. Thus, Rani Laxmi Bai is known even today as a brave queen as ‘खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।

When Indira Gandhi came into power in 1966, the same year her elder son Sanjay Gandhi was died in a mysterious plane crash. Indira Gandhi faced harsh criticism in her prior years but she built herself and acquired a reputation of a ‘Statesman’. She did commit few blunders which caused irremediable harm to the Indian democracy. Indira Gandhi, most controversial, powerful, India’s original power politician who defended India like tigress defends her cubs.

Rani Laxmi Bai and Indira Gandhi were and will be remembered as ‘Iron Lady’ of all time in the history of India.