Indira Gandhi was the only daughter of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. She was born at Allahabad on November 19, 1917. Her maiden name was Indira Priyadarshini. After marriage her name became Indira Gandhi. Her grandfather Pt. Moti Lai Nehru was a famous lawyer and had participated actively in the Freedom Movement of India.
She had her earlier education at Delhi and school education at Bombay. After matriculation she studied for some time at Shantinikaten and later she went to England for higher education. There she came in touch with Feroz Gandhi, a Parsi gentleman and later got married to him much against the wishes of her father. She became the mother of two sons, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.
Her mother had died in 1936, in Switzerland due to tuberculosis, and her father was an active politician. All these factors made her spend most of her time in the company of her father. She came in close association with Gandhiji and some other politicians too. She also became an active member of the Indian National Congress. In 1942 she participated in Quit India Movement. She was jailed for the same for 13 months. Later her father became the Prime Minister of India in 1947; she also started living with him at the Teen Murti House. In 1952 she helped her father in general elections. As she was living with her father-the Prime Minister, she acquired a deep knowledge of politics. She also came in touch with world renowned leaders as she always accompanied her father on foreign visits. Her husband Feroz Gandhi too was a good parliamentarian. Consequently she also became a thorough politician. She organized the women’s wing of the Indian National Congress. In 1960 when she was on a tour to South India, her husband Feroz Gandhi expired, this in a way made Indira Gandhi to spend most of her time in politics.
She became President of the Indian National Congress in 1964. In 1962 Indo-China war took place and this gave a big blow to Nehru, and affected his health. Consequently he expired on May 27, 1964.
Now Mr. Lai Bahadur Shastri became the Prime Minister of India. He made Indira Gandhi the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in his cabinet. In 1966, Shastriji expired and Indira Gandhi was elected as the third Prime Minister. She was the first woman to become the Prime Minister of our country
She held the post of the Prime Minister from 1966 to 1975 in the first spell. She took many bold decisions with great courage and firmness. She waged a decisive war against Pakistan in 1971 and gave her a crushing defeat. She abolished Privy Purses paid till then to the former rulers of Princely States. In 1971 she was elected as an M.P. from Rai Barely but she was entangled as a corrupt politician. In 1975 the Allahabad High Court delivered a judgment declaring her election to Parliament as invalid. This was a great blow to Indira Gandhi. She took a decision to declare emergency in the country and save herself. This was an ill-advised decision. Most of the opposition parties came under one banner and protested again the ill deeds carried on by the Government in the name of emergency. Indira Gandhi was forced to face the parliamentary elections. She lost the election and her party also fared very badly. The Janata Government came to power under the leadership of Mr. Morarji Desai. But unfortunately the internal conflicts did not let this Government last for the full term. This resulted in another election in 1980 and her Congress Party returned to power. Indira Gandhi once again became the Prime Minister for the second spell.
During this term Indira Gandhi avoided the mistakes she committed during emergency. She introduced the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ and introduced her 20-point programme to benefit the common man and the poor. She was able to win the hearts of the poor, Harijans and other lower classes once again. But a terrorist movement started in Punjab. She launched an operation caused “Operation Blue Star” to curb the terrorists. This made Indira Gandhi an enemy of the Sikhs and her life was threatened. But Indira Gandhi was an iron lady and did not budge an inch from her decision. She was shot dead by her personal security staff consisting of two Sikhs on 31st October, 1984. The whole nation was stunned. There were wide spread cases of killing, arson and looting. There was communal disharmony. Now, this day is being observed as National Unity Day. Indira Gandhi had leaded the country to progress in many fields. She contributed a great deal in making India a strong and vibrant nation. She was awarded “Bharat Ratna” for her illustrious service to the country. After her death her elder son Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of the country.