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Indira Gandhi Biography

Biography | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

History of Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was a famous Indian politician and the third Prime Minister of India. She was the daughter of the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru. Her charismatic personality and intelligence made her a powerful statesperson and extremely popular amongst the common people.

Birth and Early Life

Indira Gandhi was born on 19 November 1917 in Allahabad to Kamala and Jawaharlal Nehru. Since Indira was born in a family that had roots in politics, she was exposed to politics right from a tender age. Many important leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, used to visit her house in Allahabad. Indira often used to interact with Mahatma Gandhi and was deeply influenced by his ideologies.

College and Marriage

She garnered her initial education from Pune University and was then sent to Rabindranath Tagore’s educational institute, Shantiniketan, in West Bengal. Later, she went abroad to pursue her higher studies. In 1936, Indira came back to India and joined the Indian National Congress. Here, she met Feroze Gandhi, a young Parsi boy, who was also an important member of the Youth Wing of Congress. In 1941, despite Pandit Nehru’s objections, she married Feroze Gandhi. In 1944, Indira gave birth to Rajiv Gandhi and two years later, Sanjay Gandhi, her second son, was born.

Involvement in Politics

After independence, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India. During this time, Indira remained busy in taking care of her family and became a little less active in politics. Thereafter, one tragedy after another hit her: on 8 September 1960, Feroze Gandhi passed away after suffering a major heart attack and in 1964, Pandit Nehru passed away. After the sudden demise of her husband and father, Indira decided to join the active politics. She contested the next elections and won with a comfortable margin over her opponents. She was appointed as the Information and Broadcasting Minister under the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

After the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri on 11 January 1966, the Congress high-command unanimously selected Indira as their leader and she thus became the Prime Minister of India. In 1971, in order to stop the infiltration of Bangladeshi refugees, Indira Gandhi extended military support to East Pakistan and helped it achieve freedom from West Pakistan. India’s victory in the 1971 Indo- Pakistan war augmented the popularity of Indira Gandhi as a far-sighted and wise political leader.

In 1975, Indira faced severe resistance and criticism from the opposition over the issues of unchecked corruption, growing inflation and other irregularities in the government set-up. A ruling of Allahabad High Court was released ordering her to vacate her seat with immediate effect. In view of the growing political chaos, on 26 June, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared ‘political emergency’. During this period, her political rivals were arrested, constitutional rights of the citizens were taken away and the press was kept under strict scrutiny. In 1977, fearing military coup, Indira Gandhi called for general elections and, as anticipated, she lost them by a big margin.

Later Life and Death

Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980 and started working for the welfare of the country.  In September 1981, a Sikh terrorist group demanding a separate state of ‘Khalistan’ entered into the sacred premises of the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Indira Gandhi ordered the army to launch ‘Operation Blue Star’ and barge into the holy shrine in a bid to take out the militants. This action deeply hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community.

On 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards and we lost a great leader. Indira Gandhi will always be remembered for her praiseworthy efforts towards the development and progress of science, space exploration, agriculture and implementing several important policies related to the country’s economy.

3 Facts about Indira Gandhi

  1. Indira Gandhi’s middle name was Priyadarshini.
  2. Indira Gandhi was the only woman Prime Minister of India.
  3. In her last public address, Indira had said, “I don’t mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation”.