Free Press Journal

4 decisions by Indira Gandhi that changed India forever

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There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” – Indira Gandhi

Fondly called the ‘Iron Lady of India’, Indira Gandhi was the first and only woman Prime Minister of India. Her reign for 16 years as the Prime Minister marked a watershed in the nation’s history. She was a complex woman, tough politician and one of the greatest leaders in the Indian history. Some of her decisions were often described as unwise. Whether the decisions were wise or unwise, they changed India forever. Here’s a look at four decisions by Indira Gandhi that had an impact on the country.

Nationalization of banks (1969)
On July 19, 1969, the Indira Gandhi-led government came up with an ordinance to nationalise 14 privately owned banks of the country. The ownership of these banks, which was about 70 percent of the deposits of the country, was transferred to the government. This was done to promote economic equality. The ordinance was called Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance, which was soon followed by an act of the same name.


Bangladesh War (1971)
The restrictive measures unleashed on the citizens of East Pakistan by Pakistan’s military rules saw around 10 million refugee flow into India in 1971, leading to a war with Pakistan resulting in the formation of Bangladesh. The Indian Army became the first army to win a battle after World War II.

The Emergency (1975-77)
In response to a PIL filed by Raj Narain, the Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of employing a government servant in her election campaign. This act was considered as an election fraud and the court banned her from running an election for six years and ordered to remove her to be removed from her seat in the Parliament. Mrs. Gandhi refused to step down and thus people started to protests across the country demanding her to resign. In response, she ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and declared Emergency on June 25, 1975. The day is referred as ‘Black Day’ in Indian democracy. The period lasted for nineteen months.

Operation Bluestar (1984)
Date: June 5, 1984
Venue: The Golden Temple, Amritsar
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his troops demanded India’s partition and make a separate country for Punjabis ‘Khalistan’. The troop chose Golden Temple to hide. This led to the birth of ‘Operation Bluestar’ by the Indian Army. Commandos donning jet-black dungarees entered the temple via road between the stairs and the Guru Ramdas Lunger building and killed Bhindranwale and his troops, along with few civilians. Indira Gandhi denied giving any such orders but the operation unleashed a cycle of revenge. As a result, on October 31, 1984, two of her personal security guards shot her dead. The assassination was followed by attacks on Sikhs in several parts of the country.