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Indira Gandhi

Nov 19, 1917 - Oct 31, 1984

 Indira Gandhi


  • Name : Indira Gandhi
  • Date of Birth : Nov 19, 1917
  • Passed Away On : Oct 31, 1984
  • Religion : Hindu
  • Death Place : New Delhi
  • Address : New Delhi
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Life Summary

    NAME: Indira Gandhi
    DATE OF BIRTH: 19th November 1917
    PASSED AWAY ON: 31st October 1984
    PLACE OF BIRTH: Allahabad, United Provinces, British India
    DEATH PLACE: New Delhi
    OCCUPATION: Prime Minister

    Indira Gandhi was an Indian politician and vital figure of the Indian National Congress party. Till date, she is the only female Prime Minister of India. She was the only child of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. 


    Indira Gandhi was born on 19 November 1917 in a Kashmiri Pandit family at Allahabad. Her father was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was the first Prime Minister of the independent India. Her mother was Kamala Nehru. Indira was his only child as her younger brother was born but died very soon. 

    Her Education
    Indira attended school till matriculation till the year 1934. She was mostly taught at home by the tutors. Following are her alma mater:

    •Modern School Delhi

    •St. Cecillia’s and St. Mary’s Christian convent schools at Allahabad

    •The International School of Geneva 

    •The Ecole Nouvelle in Bex

    •Pupil’s own school in Pune and Mumbai affiliated to University of Mumbai 

    She along with her mother Kamala Nehru moved to Belur Math that is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission where Swami Ranganathananda was her guardian. Later she went on to study at the Viswa Bharati University in Shantiniketan. 

    It was here that Rabindranath Tagore named her Priyadarshini, during her interview and she came to be known as Indira Priyadarshini Nehru. But, she left to attend her ailing mother in Europe and thus discontinued her education at the university. 

    It was decided here that Indira would continue her education at the University of Oxford. Consequently, she briefly attended the Badminton School after her mother’s death and later on got enrolled at Somerville College in the year 1937 to study history. 

    At Oxford, she fared well in the subjects viz. history, political science and economics. She was an active student at the university and joined Oxford Majlis Asian Society. 

    Her first tenure as a Prime Minister from the year 1966-71
    Indira performed poorly in the 1967 general elections. As a result, she started moving towards the left in the political sphere. In the year 1969, after having a conflict of opinion with senior party leaders on a number of issues, the then party president S. Nijalingappa expelled her from the party. However, Gandhi wasn’t disheartened and in turn she stood independently and commenced her own faction of the Congress party. Also, she managed to retain most of the Congress MPs on her side whereas only 65 were on the side of Congress (O) faction. 

    Indira Gandhi, prior to the year 1971 elections came up with several policies that included proposals for the abolition of Privy Purse to former rulers of the Princely states. Her revolutionizing move was the nationalization of the fourteen largest banks in India in the year 1969.

    She came up with another mission of Garibi Hatao (Eradicate Poverty) in the year 1971. On the other hand, the combined opposition alliance had come up with their agenda of "Indira Hatao" (Remove Indira). 

    The Garibi Hatao slogan and the proposed anti-poverty programs that came with it were intentionally designed so as to give Indira national support from rural and urban poor. The theme aimed at bypassing the dominant rural castes both in and out of state and local governments. This was also targeted against the urban commercial class. 

    Also, this move was aimed at providing voicele to the poor and helped them gain both political worth and political weight. These programs created through Garibi Hatao were carried out just locally and were funded and developed by the Central Government in New Delhi. 

    The biggest achievement of Indira Gandhi after the year 1971 election was India's victory in the Indo-Pakistani War of the year 1971 that led to the formation of independent Bangladesh. Consequently, in the elections held for State assemblies across India in March 1972, the Congress(R) came to power in most of the states. 

    State of Emergency in the year 1975-1977
    Gandhi tried to restore law and order by ordering the arrest of most of the opposition participating in the unrest. Her Cabinet and government then recommended that President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declare a state of emergency. This was because of the disorder and lawlessness following the Allahabad High Court decision. As a result, Ahmed declared a State of Emergency caused by internal disorder, based on the provisions of Article 352(1) of the Constitution, on 25 June 1975.

    Operation Blue Star
    In the year1977 elections, a coalition led by the Sikh -majority Akali Dal came to power in the Northern Indian state of Punjab. Indira Gandhi's Congress tried to split the Akali Dal and gain popular support among the Sikhs and therefore helped bring the orthodox religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to prominence in Punjab politics.  Later, Bhindranwale's organisation Damdami Taksam became involved in violence with another religious sect called the Sant Nirankari Mission. He was also accused of provoking the murder of the Congress leader Jagat Narain. After being arrested in this matter, Bhindranwale disassociated himself from Congress and joined hands with the Akali Dal.

    In July of the year 1982, he led the campaign for the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which demanded greater autonomy for the Sikh-majority state. During this time a small section of the Sikhs, including some of Bhindranwale's followers, started militancy acts after being targeted by the government officials and police in support.  Indira tried to negotiate with Bhindranwale but all in vain. She later on ordered the Indian army to enter the Golden Temple in order to confront those followers of Bhindranwale who had turned to militancy. 

    Indian army used heavy artillery such as tanks and cannons and machine guns in addition with helicopters to crush the Sikhs of Harmandir Sahib. In the Operation Blue Star, the shrine of the Golden Temple was damaged and many civilians were brutally massacred along with the militants. 

    As a result, riots erupted in Punjab and many religious Sikh leaders as well as many devotees of Harminder Sahib were arrested, tortured and killed.The State of Punjab was cut-off from international media and phone and communication lines were shut. 

    To this day the events remain controversial and many Sikhs declared Bhindrawale as the greatest Sikh martyr of the 20th century by Akal Takht (Sikh Political Authority) in the year 2003.

    On 30 October 1984, a day before her death Indira Gandhi visited Orissa where she gave her last speech at the then Parade Ground in front of the Secretariat of Orissa:

    I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow...I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it.  

    "Even if I died in the service of the nation, I would be proud of it. Every drop of my blood... will contribute to the growth of this nation and to make it strong and dynamic.  

    After her death, the Parade Ground was rechristened as Indira Gandhi Park which was inaugurated by her son, Rajiv Gandhi.

    On the following day i.e. 31 October 1984, two of Gandhi's bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, shot her with their service weapons in the garden of the Prime Minister's residence at 1 Safdarjung Road, New Delhi. 

    They shoot her when she was walking past a wicket gate guarded by them. She was to have been interviewed by the British actor Peter Ustinov, who was filming a documentary for Irish television. 

    Beant Singh shot her three times using his side-arm and Satwant Singh fired 30 rounds. After shooting, both Beant Singh and Satwant Singh dropped their weapons and surrendered. Afterwards they were taken away by other guards into a closed room where Beant Singh was shot dead. Kehar Singh was later arrested for conspiracy in the attack. 

    Both Satwant and Kehar were sentenced to death and hanged in Delhi's Tihar Jail. 

    Indira Gandhi was brought to All India Institute of Medical Sciences at 9:30 AM where doctors operated on her. She was declared dead at 2:20 PM. The post-mortem examination was conducted by a team of doctors headed by Dr. T.D. Dogra. Dr. Dogra stated that 30 bullet wounds were sustained by Indira Gandhi, from two sources, a Sten gun and a pistol. The assailants had fired 31 bullets at her, of which 30 had hit; 23 had passed through her body while 7 were trapped inside her. 

    Her awards and recognitions
    President V. V. Giri awarded Mrs. Gandhi India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna after leading India to victory against Pakistan in the Bangladesh liberation war in the year 1971.

    In the year 2011, the Bangladesh Freedom Honour (Bangladesh Swadhinata Sammanona), Bangladesh's highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred on Indira Gandhi for her outstanding contributions to Bangladesh's Liberation War. 

    In her Honour
    •The Indira Awaas Yojana, a central government low-cost housing programme for the rural poor, was started in her name to honour her. 
    •The international airport at New Delhi is named Indira Gandhi International Airport in her honour. 
    •The Indira Gandhi National Open University, the largest university in the world, is also named after her. 
    •Indian National Congress established the annual Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in the year 1985, given in her memory on her death anniversary. 
    •The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust also constituted the annual Indira Gandhi Prize. 


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