The only daughter of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi was destined for politics. Indira Gandhi has been the known face of Indian politics. A woman of stance and so-called Iron pillar during her times as she was widely known as “Iron Lady of India”.. She was the first woman Prime Minister of free India and also the second-longest serving Prime Minister of India. One of the most admired leaders’ of our country, Indira single-handedly solved many domestic and international crises during her tenure. Her contribution to the social and political spectrum of the nation continues to influence contemporary leaders. However, her end was tragic as shed was assassinated on 31st October, 1984.
Indira Gandhi was born to the most powerful family in the country. She played an even bigger role at the age of 12 in India’s struggle for Independence and formed Vanar Sena (Monkey brigade) to spy on police, distributed Indian flags and put up notices about the demonstrations.
Indira as Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi served twice as the Prime Minister, first after the death of L B Shastri and second after the victory in 1971 elections. During the 1971 elections she gave India a popular slogan “Garibi Hatao”. Gandhi is the first and only women Prime Minister of India till date. She is widely known till date for her declaration of state of emergency in India for the first time.
Friendship with Margaret Thatcher
Indira Gandhi was the close friend of another Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher. They both first met in 1976. The two female leaders had a good rapport and could understand one another. After Indira’s assassination, Thatcher sent a condolence note to her son Rajiv Gandhi stating: “I cannot describe to you my feelings at the news of the loss of your mother, except to say that it was like losing a member of my own family. Our many talks together had closeness and mutual understanding which will always remain with me. She was not just a great statesman but a warm and caring person.”
Push for Sterilization
Indira Gandhi was widely remembered for her steps in reducing the birth rate in India. At that time it was important to reduce the population growth. Indira’s eldest son Sanjay Gandhi worked particularly on reducing the birth rate. The government of India directed it power towards sterilization. Indira Gandhi was a controversial figure due to several of her steps and statements.
The Green Revolution in India subsequently culminated under her government in the 1970s and transformed the country from a nation heavily reliant on imported grains, and become successful in achieving its goal of food security. Indira Gandhi gained enormous popularity for introducing successful programs that transformed India into a country self-sufficient in food grains an achievement known as the Green Revolution.
Marriage with Feroze Khan
Indira’s father was close to Mahatma Gandhi. However, Indira ended up with the same last name as the iconic leader. Indira became Indira Gandhi following her marriage with Feroze Gandhi (was a Parsi and not related to Mahatma Gandhi). It was a love marriage and the only few people in India supported the wedding. It was a out-of-the-norm not to have an arranged marriage. The pair had two sons (Sanjay and Rajiv) together but the marriage was not a great success.
Golden Temple attack
Indira Gandhi was widely criticised for her interference in the issue of Golden Temple. In 1984, Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab was taken over by the Sikh extremists seeking autonomous state. In response, Indira ordered Army to enter into the temple and do the necessary attacks. It’s also called as “Operation Blue Star”, in a result of attack, the shrine was damaged and many civilians were brutally massacred.
After the operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 Oct, 1984 by her most trusted body-guards with their service weapons in the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi, seeking retribution for the events at the temple. Just a day before her assassination she gave a popular speech in Orissa
Tragic death for Gandhi family
A sort of twisted destiny, the prominent leaders from the Gandhi political family were victims to tragic deaths. Indira Gandhi’s eldest son Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash. Sanjay Gandhi was 34 and left behind a young widow and a three-and-a-month-old son – Varun Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. And Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a suicide bombing, to which later LTTE claimed responsibility.