Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. She studied at Ecole Nouvelle, Bex (Switzerland), Ecole Internationale, Geneva, Pupils' Own School, Poona and Bombay, Badminton School, Bristol, Vishwa Bharati, Shantiniketan and Somerville College, Oxford. She was conferred Honorary doctoral degree by a host of Universities such as Andhra, Agra, Bangalore, Vikram, Punjab, Gurukul, Nagpur, Jamia Milia, Poona, El Salvador of Buenos Aires, Waseda of Tokyo, Moscow State, Oxford, Charles of Prague, Mauritius, Baghdad and the U.S.S.R. With an impressive academic background she also got the Citation of Distinction from the Columbia University. In 1938 she joined the National Congress party and became active in India's independence movement. In her early childhood she founded the Bal Charkha Sangh and in 1930, the 'Vanar Sena' of children to help the Congress party during the Non-Cooperation Movement.

She got married to Feroze Gandhi, a Parsi lawyer also active in the party on March 26, 1942 and had two sons. Shortly after, both were arrested by the British on charges of subversion and spent 13 months in prison. When India won its independence in 1947 and Nehru took office as prime minister, she became his official hostess. Smt. Gandhiwas a Member, Congress Working Committee and Central Election of the party in 1955; Member, Central Parliamentary Board of Congress, 1958; Chairperson, National Integration Council of A.I.C.C.; President, All India Youth Congress, 1956 and Women's Dept. A.I.C.C.; President, Indian National Congress, 1959-60; and Indian National Congress from January 1978.

After Jawaharlal Nehru's death, the new Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri appointed Indira Gandhi as minister of information and broadcasting. After Shastri's death in 1966, Indira Gandhi served as prime minister until India held the next election. She won that election, and in 1967. In 1971, Gandhi was re-elected by campaigning with the slogan "Abolish Poverty." However in 1975, Gandhi was found guilty of violating election laws. Later, the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of India. Also, to control population growth, Gandhi implemented a voluntary sterilization program. To secure her power and because of escalating riots, on June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency which limited the personal freedom of Indians. Also, she ordered the arrests of the main opposition leaders. In her opinion, her dictatorship was for the good of India. But she allowed free elections in 1977, and the Indian people voted her out of office.

She regained her position as prime minister in 1980. On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards assassinated her. They did so to avenge the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Gandhi had ordered the storming in June because of what her government considered terrorist activity of extremist Sikhs who had occupied the Temple.



She also became a Member, Rajya Sabha, August 1964-February 1967; Member, Fourth Lok Sabha 1967-71; Fifth Lok Sabha 1971-77; and Sixth Lok Sabha during November-December 1978. She was elected to the Seventh Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli (U.P.) and Medak (Andhra Pradesh), January 1980. She was chosen as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1967-77 and for the Congress Parliamentary Party from January 1980.

She had many achievements to her credit. She was the recipient of Bharat Ratna, 1972; Mexican Academy Award for Liberation of Bangladesh 1972; 2nd Annual Medal, FAO, 1973; Sahitya Vachaspati (Hindi) by Nagari Pracharini Sabha, 1976. She also received Mothers' Award, U.S.A., 1953; Islbella d'Este Award of Italy for outstanding work in diplomacy, Yale University's Howland Memorial Prize; for two consecutive years in 1967 and 1968 was the woman most admired by the French according to a poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion. According to a special Gallup Poll Survey in U.S.A. in 1971 she was the most admired person of the world and Diploma of Honour was conferred by the Argentine Society in 1971 for the Protection of Animals.

Her publications are The Years of Challenge 1966-69; The Years of Endeavour 1969-72; India (London) 1975; Inde (Lausanne) 1979 and numerous other collection of speeches and writings.