Indira Gandhi: Biography of the Asian Iron Lady

Known as the Indian Iron Lady, Indira Gandhi promoted not only the independence of her country, but also helped to make it a sustainable country. A character plagued with chiaroscuro in its history, who had to deal with serious independence revolts and serious accusations of corruption and political malpractice. Her life is a novel and today we want to tell you something more about her.

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Today we deal with a controversial character like few others. Loved and hated almost equally, this iron lady led her country in times of great conflict. Indira Gandhi is a stranger to younger generations and we wanted to review her life as the political figure of the first order that she was.

Indira Gandhi was the first woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in India. His mother was a defender of the rights of the most disadvantaged. His father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the leader of the independence of the British Empire and Prime Minister of India.

The passage of Indira Gandhi by politics confronted her with the great world powers and it was she who turned India into the fifth nuclear power. His work as the first political figure of India is defined with a lot of chiaroscuro and was never a path of roses.

Her early years

She was born in Allahabad on November 19, 1917; it is said that, as a child, she admired Joan of Arc. Her mother died when Indira was still very young and her father lived away from her because of her complete dedication to the politics of her country. He inherited the political vocation of his father and an early desire to serve his country.

She was educated by select tutors in her house for some time, until she attended a Christian school in Delhi and in Geneva. He tried to finish his studies in Oxford after his mother died, but the outbreak of World War II thwarted the academic aspirations of Indira Gandhi.

During her stay in Oxford, Indira resumed the friendship of the one who would become her husband, Feroze Gandhi. They married in March 1942 and had two children. After a brief romance, her marriage would end up failing because of her husband’s infidelities.

Political rise

Back in India, Indira Gandhi became interested in politics and began to collaborate with his father, Prime Minister of India at that time, becoming his right hand.

He joined the Congress Party and actively supported his father in the struggle for Indian independence. A movement that was headed by Mahatma Gandhi, with whom he had no kinship despite sharing last name. India achieved its independence from British rule on August 15, 1947.

During the first years of Indian independence, the career of Indira ran parallel to that of his father until he died in 1964. Indira Gandhi begins to assume different ministerial portfolios standing in the front ranks of the politics of his country.

In 1966, Indira was proposed as General Secretary of the Congress Party and immediately afterwards, the new Prime Minister of India would be elected. She thus became the first woman in India to achieve a political position of that caliber.

Some of his biographers emphasize that Indira Gandhi’s position as prime minister was suggested in an attempt by the party to elect someone manipulable, someone whose main function would be to be the image of the party, but without participating in important decision-making. The certain thing is that Mrs. Gandhi does not seem to have lent herself to it, reason why, already from the beginning, it gained numerous enemies among its own rows.

The policy of Indira Gandhi

She was elected Prime Minister on two occasions: from 1966 to 1977 and, later, in 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Indira Gandhi’s first term as Prime Minister of India was characterized by her progressive politics and by an effort of mediation to strengthen the links between non-aligned countries.

This position, clearly progressive, was threatened on many occasions from his own party. Despite this, he conducted agricultural modernization programs; Among those that stand out are the proposals known as Green Revolution and White Revolution, based on the protection of seeds, crops and dairy production that sought to end the malnutrition of India.

She also developed a nuclear and space program, in addition to obtaining numerous victories in the war against Pakistan and the subsequent creation of Bangladesh. Your political strategies

The outside world confronted her seriously with American interests in the area and, especially, with President Nixon, who referred to her as “the old witch.”

Even so, in 1971, after the last elections, Indira Gandhi was unable to fulfill many of her electoral promises. The Gandhi government was beginning to take tremendously unpopular measures and was accused of corruption and electoral fraud.

These events provoke numerous tensions in India and Indira Gandhi is condemned to resign from her position as Prime Minister, in addition to her disqualification from the position for six years.

The Prime Minister of India considers that she is being victim of a conspiracy against her, refuses to be forced to resign from her position and decrees the state of emergency in India in 1975. Supported by her son, she also censures the press and imprison his opponents.

To all this is added his ambitious son Sanjay, who launches a terrifying program of mass sterilization in India claiming that it was too crowded to be effectively governed. With all these unpopular measures, new elections are reached that leave Indira Gandhi and her son out of the presidency of India.

Re-election and murder

In spite of its fall, Indira will be chosen again in the year 1980, moment that coincides with the death of its son Sanjay in an aerial accident. During this new period in the presidency, the government of Indira Gandhi must face the separatist demands of some states of India like Punjab. This was a Sikh majority territory, whose spiritual leader begins to violently harass the central power of India.

Some theories affirm that the separatist factions were fed from the secret services of countries to which Indira Gandhi did not favor with its policy. Anyway, the independence attempts end up filling the patience of Indira Gandhi, who orders, with a strong hand, the capture of the nerve center of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple.

This attack caused hundreds of deaths among the separatist Sikhs. In this way, a visceral hatred of the Prime Minister and her government by the members of that community is finally infused.

In 1984, two of the closest bodyguards to Indira Gandhi shot her at point-blank range in her own home, where she was murdered. It seems that both were infiltrated Sikh militants.

After the murder of Indira Gandhi, in the north of India, the violence and the persecution to death of the Sikhs explode. Thus, a series of riots took place that claimed a thousand lives in India.

A legacy of chiaroscuro

The presence of Indira Gandhi in the government of her country has two very different aspects. On the one hand, it contributed very favorably to India being constituted not only as an independent, but also as a self-sustaining country and prompted it to become a world power.

On the other hand, to achieve its objectives, it does not seem to have hesitated to use corruption and to take measures that, in some cases, were totally wrong and unfortunate.

Through its political and vital trajectory, the historical character of Indira Gandhi seems to take on different types of personality and types of leadership that have tried to be explained from social psychology. A character in the midst of ambiguity, but which, without a doubt, is worth knowing and studying.

“There are hopes that can not be met even in a lifetime (…). Now the flames are extinguished, the ashes are cold and soon they will be collected in a bronze urn. It will be Rajiv’s turn to take them on a plane to spread over the snow-capped mountains of Kashmir, according to his wish, the mortal remains of Mother Indira, the most beloved and hated woman in India.”

-Paola Capriolo-