|INDIRA GANDHI, THE GREAT INDIAN WOMAN
| Adyar Gopal Parivar remembers the great
sacrifices late Smt. Indira Gandhi made for our
Nation throughout her life and in death. Indira was
born on 19th November 1908.
Her birth anniversary is being observed by the
Government of India and the Indian people every
year with floral tributes being offered at her tomb
'the Shakti Sthal' in New Delhi. She was
assassinated on 31st October 1984, at 67 years
of age. She was the only child of Pandit Nehru.
Her death anniversary is also held every year by
the Indian Government and all her admirers.
Indira Gandhi was a remarkable woman. When
she was a child her mother was most of the time
bed-ridden with TB disease. Her father, Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru, was busy with politics.
Therefore Indira Gandhi had to work her way
through her growing years by herself. Her paternal
grand-father Motilal Nehru owned a big house,
Anand Bhavan, in Allahabad where she lived until
she was old enough to find a boy for herself to
marry. Her school education was not regular since
she was more interested in what her father and
grand-father did which was to take part in the
Independence struggle. Often she worried about
her father during the period he was in prison.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned often for
lengthy periods. She waited eagerly for her father’
s letters which used to arrive regularly.
Her grand-father Motilal Nehru also took part
in the Independence struggle. Therefore she was
left alone in her residence with only the domestic
servants attending to her needs.
She went to London for her college
education, but she could not complete her studies
and earn a degree because she took part in the
activities of India League than concentrate on her
studies. She met, loved and married Feroze
Gandhi and that is when she changed her name
from Indira Nehru to Indira Gandhi.
Yet by the time of her appointment as the
Information Minister in the Central Government in
the Cabinet of Prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri
in 1964 she was a mother of two boys, Rajiv and
Sanjay. Both the boys were already beyond
childhood. Therefore it was not so difficult for her
to leave home for work in the Government offices.
After the untimely death of Lal Bahadur Shastri,
she was chosen to be the External Affairs Minister
in Guljarilal Nanda’s Cabinet. Soon she became
the Prime Minister when Mr. Nanda resigned due
to overwhelming demand from Congress Party
leaders to give the job to her.
It was then that she realized that her being
the daughter of Pandit Nehru made the difference
and the masses supported her in spite of her
being a woman and a relatively inexperienced
member of the Central Committee of the Congress
But she showed her mettle soon
after she became the Prime Minister in 1966 by
first nationalizing the banking sector and later
bringing in land reforms in favour of the tenant
farmers. Both the measures made her very
popular with the majority of Indians since they
were benefited enormously by these changes.
She also discontinued the hefty pensions called
Privy purses, that were being paid to the erstwhile
princes who joined the Indian Federation soon
after Independence in 1947.
|INDIRA GANDHI, THE GREAT INDIAN WOMAN
By Mohan Shenoy
|Photo: Photocopy of Feature published in Indian Express
| Although Indira Gandhi had
imposed Emergency in 1975, and
had hurt the feelings of the Sikh
people by ordering the entry of the
Amritsar to fight the terrorists holed
up there, she was considered the
most able Prime Minister by a
majority of people in India and
abroad. She is given credit for
winning the Bangladesh war in 1971
after the Pakisthani Army botched up
the administration in East Pakisthan
by oppressing the local people. The
Pakisthan Army behaved very badly
with the citizens of their country living
in East Pakisthan during this time
leading to a huge exodus of refugees
crossing over to India. This arrival of
many extra mouths to feed and look
after in India caused unbearable
strain on Indian economy and and on
civilian conditions forcing Indira
Gandhi to order the Indian Armed
Forces to invade East Pakisthan.
The war was won by India and
East Pakisthan became Bangladesh.
Imposition of Emergency in
1975 was an unpopular move and
displayed the poor judgment on her
part. The entry of the Army into the
holy Golden Temple was a necessity
because the situation in Punjab was
deteriorated so much that the
sanctity of the religious place was
being used by the terrorists to hide
and escape capture by the law
officers. However the Sikh guards
who assassinated her did so by
being religious fanatics equal to the
present day terrorists. Her
assassination at the hands of her
own guards is a travesty of political
life and the riots which broke out on
that day were also an ugly face of
animal instincts of man.
No Indian can hate Indira
Gandhi for anything she did because
she gave so much to India and
brought fame and honour to Indian
democracy. She is an outstanding
daughter of India and she will be
remembered for all times to come
until the end of the Universe.
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