Indira Gandhi was our first woman Prime Minister. She had rare qualities of leadership and guided the destiny of a big country like India for about 15 years, from 1966 to 1977 and 1980 to 1984. India gained status of respect and strength in the world forum during her time.
Our defeating the Pakistani forces in the Indo-Pak war, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh, won her name and admiration even from the opposition parties. She was regarded a highly skilled, far- sighted, aggressive leader in the international arena.
Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first PM of free India and a great freedom fighter. She was born on Nov. 19th, 1917 at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and had her education in India and Europe, including Shantiniketan and Oxford. She took active part in the freedom movement, started by Gandhi. He called her ‘Priyadarshini’ out of his love and affection for her.
Mrs. Gandhi had her lessons in active politics from her father, for whom she worked as an adviser in his life time. She entered the Parliament in 1964 and took charge as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the cabinet of Mr. Lai Bahadur Shastri the same year.
She took charge of the Prime Minister ship after his death and served in that capacity from 1966 to 1977. On account of her imposing the emergency, she lost in the general elections in 1977.
However, she and her party returned victoriously in 1980 and Mrs. Gandhi was once again the Prime Minister. She had an untimely, sad demise, when she was shot dead by her own bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
The country and the countrymen gained a lot during the tenure of this great leader, gifted with firm determination and an iron will. She was the champion of the poor and the downtrodden. Her slogan was, ‘Garibi Hatao-abolish poverty’.
She initiated her 20 Point Programme to help millions of her countrymen. She nationalised 14 national banks, abolished the Privy Purses and made the country self-sufficient in food. The last of these feats was achieved through the Green Revolution.
A great leader like Indira Gandhi is born only once after many years. Her death in the prime of her life was an immense national loss, indeed!