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Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi Biography

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi

Indira Gandhi
5th and 8th Prime Minister of India
In office24 January 1966 – 24 March 1977
Neelam Sanjiva ReddyGiani Zail Singh
Preceded by
Choudhary Charan Singh
Succeeded by
Rajiv Gandhi
In office15 January 1980 – 31 October 1984
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
Preceded by
Gulzarilal Nanda
Succeeded by
Morarji Desai
Minister for External Affairs of India
In office9 March 1984 – 31 October 1984
Preceded by
P. V. Narasimha Rao
Succeeded by
Rajiv Gandhi
In office22 August 1967 – 14 March 1969
Preceded by
Mahommedali Currim Chagla
Succeeded by
Dinesh Singh
Finance Minister of India
In office26 June 1970 – 29 April 1971
Preceded by
Morarji Desai
Succeeded by
Yashwantrao Chavan
President of the Indian National Congress
In office1959 – 19591978 – 1984
Preceded by
U N DhebarDev Kant Baruah
Succeeded by
Neelam Sanjiva ReddyRajiv Gandhi
19 November 1917(1917-11-19)Allahabad, United Provinces, British India
31 October 1984 (aged 66)New Delhi, India
Political party
Indian National Congress
Feroze Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi
Adi Dharm

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A young Indira Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, during one of his fasts
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (Hindi: इंदिरा प्रियदर्शिनी गांधी Indirâ Priyadarúinî Gândhî; née: Nehru; 19 November 1917 - 31 October 1984) was the Prime Minister of the Republic of India for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. She was India's first and to date only female Prime Minister. She is also the only Indian Prime Minister to date to be defeated in her own district in a general election.
Born in the politically influential Nehru dynasty, she grew up in an intensely political atmosphere. Despite the same last name, she was of no relation to the statesman Mohandas Gandhi. Her grandfather, Motilal Nehru, was a prominent Indian nationalist leader. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement and the first Prime Minister of Independent India. Returning to India from Oxford in 1941, she became involved in the Indian Independence movement.
In the 1950s, she served her father unofficially as a personal assistant during his tenure as India's first Prime Minister. After her father's death in 1964, she was appointed as a member of the Rajya Sabha by the President of India and became a member of Lal Bahadur Shastri's cabinet as Minister of Information and Broadcasting.[1]
The then Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was instrumental in making Indira Gandhi the Prime Minister after the sudden demise of Shastri. Gandhi soon showed an ability to win elections and outmaneuver opponents through populism. She introduced more left-wing economic policies and promoted agricultural productivity. A decisive victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan was followed by a period of instability that led her to impose a state of emergency in 1975; she paid for the authoritarian excesses of the period with three years in opposition. Returned to office in 1980, she became increasingly involved in an escalating conflict with separatists in Punjab that eventually led to her assassination by her own bodyguards in 1984.
1 Early life
2 President of the Indian National Congress
3 Prime Minister
3.1 Last term
3.1.1 Domestic Policy and the 1971 War
3.1.2 Foreign Policy
3.1.3 Devaluation of the Rupee
3.2 Nuclear Weapons Program
3.2.1 Green Revolution
3.2.2 1971 Poll Victory , and Second term (1971-1975)
3.2.3 Accusations of authoritarianism
3.2.4 Charges
3.2.5 State of Emergency (1975-1977)
3.2.6 Rule by Decree
3.3 Third term
3.3.1 Elections
3.3.2 Removal, Arrest, and Return
3.3.3 Currency crisis
3.3.4 Operation Blue Star and assassination
4 Personal life
4.1 Nehru-Gandhi family
5 Indira Gandhi in popular culture
6 See also
7 External links
8 References
9 Further reading
Early life

The Nehru family - Motilal Nehru is seated in the center, and standing (L to R) are Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Krishna Hutheesing, Indira, and Ranjit Pandit; Seated: Swaroop Rani, Motilal Nehru and Kamala Nehru (circa 1927).
Indira Priyadarshini, was born on 19 November 1917 to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his young wife Kamala Nehru. She was their only child. The Nehru family can trace their ancestry to the Brahmins of Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. Indira's grandfather Motilal Nehru was a wealthy barrister of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. Nehru was one of the most prominent members of the Indian National Congress in pre-Gandhi times and would go on to author the Nehru Report, the people's choice for a future Indian system of government as opposed to the British system. Her father Nehru was a well-educated lawyer and was a popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. At the time of Indira's birth, Nehru entered the independence movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
Growing up in the sole care of her mother, who was sick and alienated from the Nehru household, Indira developed strong protective instincts and a loner personality. Her grandfather and father continually being enmeshed in national politics also made mixing with her peers difficult. She had conflicts with her father's sisters, including Vijayalakshmi Pandit, and these continued into the political world.
Indira created the Vanara Sena movement for young girls and boys which played a small but notable role in the Indian Independence Movement, conducting protests and flag marches, as well as helping Congress politicians circulate sensitive publications and banned materials. In an often-told story, she smuggled out from her father's police-watched house an important document in her schoolbag that outlined plans for a major revolutionary initiative in the early 1930s.
In 1936, her mother, Kamala Nehru, finally succumbed to tuberculosis after a long struggle. Indira was 18 at the time and thus never experienced a stable family life during her childhood. While studying at Somerville College, University of Oxford, England, during the late 1930s, she became a member of the radical pro-independence London based India League.
In her years in continental Europe and the UK, she met a Parsi, Feroze Gandhi, a Congress activist, and eventually married him on 16 March 1942 at Anand Bhawan Allahabad in a private Adi Dharm Brahmo Vedic ceremony still noted for its unconventionality.[3] Just before the beginning of the Quit India Movement - the final, all-out national revolt launched by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party. In September 1942 they were arrested by the British authorities and detained without charge. She was ultimately released on 13 May 1943 having spent over 243 days in jail.[4] In 1944, she gave birth to Rajiv Gandhi with Feroze Gandhi, followed two years later by Sanjay Gandhi.
During the chaotic Partition of India in 1947, she helped organize refugee camps and provide medical care for the millions of refugees from Pakistan. This was her first exercise in major public service.
The Gandhis later settled in Allahabad where Feroze worked with a Congress Party newspaper and an insurance company. Their marriage started out well, but deteriorated later when she moved to New Delhi to be at the side of her father, the Prime Minister at the time, who was living alone in a high-pressure environment at Teen Murti Bhavan. She became his confidante, secretary and nurse. Her sons lived with her, but she eventually separated from Feroze, though they remained legally married.
When India's first general election approached in 1951, Gandhi managed the campaigns of both Nehru and her husband, who was contesting the constituency of Rae Bareilly. Feroze had not consulted Nehru on his choice to run, and even though he was elected, he opted to live in a separate house in Delhi. Feroze quickly developed a reputation for being a fighter against corruption, exposing a major scandal in the nationalized insurance industry, resulting in the resignation of the Finance Minister, a Nehru aide.
At the height of the tension, Gandhi and her husband separated. However, in 1958, shortly after re-election, Feroze suffered a heart attack, which dramatically healed their broken marriage. At his side to help him recuperate in Kashmir, their family grew closer. But Feroze died on 8 September 1960, while Gandhi was abroad with Nehru on a foreign visit.
President of the Indian National Congress

Indira and Mahatma Gandhi circa the 1930s
During 1959 and 1960, Gandhi ran for and was elected the President of the Indian National Congress. Her term of office was uneventful. She also acted as her father's chief of staff. Nehru was known as a vocal opponent of nepotism, and she did not contest a seat in the 1962 elections.
Nehru died on 27 May 1964, and Gandhi, at the urgings of the new Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, contested elections and joined the Government, being immediately appointed Minister for Information and Broadcasting. She went to Madras when the riots over Hindi becoming the national language broke out in non-Hindi speaking states of the south. There she spoke to government officials, soothed the anger of community leaders and supervised reconstruction efforts for the affected areas. Shastri and senior Ministers were embarrassed, owing to their lack of such initiative. Minister Gandhi's actions were probably not directly aimed at Shastri or her own political elevation. She reportedly lacked interest in the day-to-day functioning of her Ministry, but was media-savvy and adept at the art of politics and image-making.
"During the succession struggles after 1965 between Mrs. Gandhi and her rivals, the central Congress [party] leadership in several states moved to displace upper caste leaders from state Congress [party] organizations and replace them with backward caste persons and to mobilize the votes of the latter castes to defeat its rivals in the state Congress [party] and in the opposition. The consequences of these interventions, some of which may justly be perceived as socially progressive, have nevertheless often had the consequences of intensifying inter-ethnic regional conflicts...[5]
While the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was ongoing, Gandhi was vacationing in the border region of Srinagar. Although warned by the Army that Pakistani insurgents had penetrated very close to the city, she refused to relocate to Jammu or Delhi and instead rallied local government and welcomed the media attention. Shastri died in Tashkent, hours after signing the peace agreement with Pakistan's Ayub Khan, mediated by the Soviets.
The Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was then instrumental in making Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, despite the opposition from Morarji Desai who was later defeated by the members of the Congress Parliamentary Party,where Indira Gandhi beat Morarji Desai by 355 votes to 169 to become the fourth Prime Minister of India and the first woman to hold that position.
Prime Minister
Last term
Domestic Policy and the 1971 War

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second President of India, administering the oath of office to Indira Gandhi on 24 January 1966.
When Mrs. Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966 the Congress was split in two factions, the socialists led by Mrs. Gandhi, and the conservatives led by Morarji Desai. Morarji Desai called her "Gungi Gudiya" which means 'Dumb Doll'[citation needed]. The internal problems showed in the 1967 election where the Congress lost nearly 60 seats winning 297 seats in the 545 seat Lok Sabha. She had to accommodate Desai as Deputy Prime Minister of India and Finance Minister of India. In 1969 after many disagreements with Desai, the Indian National Congress split. She ruled with support from Socialist and Communist Parties for the next two years. In the same year, in July 1969 she nationalised banks. In 1971, to solve the Bangladeshi refugee problem, she declared war, on Pakistan, on the side of the East Pakistanis, who were fighting for their independence. During the 1971 War, the US under President Richard Nixon sent its Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal as a warning to India keep away from East Pakistan as a pretext to launch a wider attack against West Pakistan, especially over the territory of Kashmir. This move had further alienated India from the First World, and Prime Minister Gandhi now accelerated a previously cautious new direction in national security and foreign policy. India and the USSR had earlier signed the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Cooperation, resulting in political and military support contributing substantially to India's victory in the 1971 war.
Foreign Policy
She invited the new Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Shimla for a week-long summit. After the near-failure of the talks, the two heads of state eventually signed the Shimla Agreement, which bound the two countries to resolve the Kashmir dispute by negotiations and peaceful means. Due to her antipathy for Nixon, relations with the United States grew distant, while relations with the Soviet Union grew closer.
Indira Gandhi was criticized by some for not making the Line of Control a permanent border while a few critics even believed that Pakistan-administered Kashmir should have been extracted from Pakistan, whose 93,000 prisoners of war were under Indian control. But the agreement did remove immediate United Nations and third party interference, and greatly reduced the likelihood of Pakistan launching a major attack in the near future. By not demanding total capitulation on a sensitive issue from Bhutto, she had allowed Pakistan to stabilize and normalize. Trade relations were also normalized, though much contact remained frozen for years.
Devaluation of the Rupee
During the late 1960s, Indira's administration decreed a 40% devaluation in the value of the Indian Rupee from 4 to 7 to the US Dollar to boost trade.
Nuclear Weapons Program
A national nuclear program, was started by Mrs. Gandhi, in 1967, which evolved from the nuclear threat from the People's Republic of China and the intrusive interest of the two major superpowers not conducive to India's stability and security. In 1974, India successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, unofficially code named as smiling Buddha, near the desert village of Pokhran in Rajasthan. Describing the test as for peaceful purposes, India became the world's youngest nuclear power.
Green Revolution
Main article: Green Revolution in India

Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi in 1971. They had a deep personal antipathy that coloured bilateral relations.
Special agricultural innovation programs and extra government support launched in the 1960s finally transformed India's chronic food shortages into surplus production of wheat, rice, cotton and milk. Rather than relying on food aid from the United States - headed by a President whom Mrs. Gandhi disliked considerably (the feeling was mutual: to Nixon, Indira was "the old witch"[6]), the country became a food exporter. That achievement, along with the diversification of its commercial crop production, has become known as the Green Revolution. At the same time, the White Revolution was an expansion in milk production which helped to combat malnutrition, especially amidst young children. 'Food security', as the program was called, was another source of support for Mrs. Gandhi in the years leading up to 1975.[7]
Established in the early 1960s, the Green Revolution was the unofficial name given to the Intense Agricultural District Program (IADP) which sought to insure abundant, inexpensive grain for urban dwellers upon whose support Gandhi -- as indeed all Indian politicians -- heavily depended.[8] The program was based on four premises: 1) New varieties of seed(s), 2) Acceptance of the necessity of the chemicalization of Indian agriculture, i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, etc., 3) A commitment to national and international cooperative research to develop new and improved existing seed varieties, 4) The concept of developing a scientific, agricultural institutions in the form of land grant colleges.[9] Lasting about ten years, the program was ultimately to bring about a tripling of wheat production, a lower but still impressive increase of rice; while there was little to no increase (depending on area, and adjusted for population growth) of such cereals as millet, gram and coarse grain, though these did, in fact, retain a relatively stable yield.
1971 Poll Victory , and Second term (1971-1975)
Gandhi's government faced major problems after her tremendous mandate of 1971. The internal structure of the Congress Party had withered following its numerous splits, leaving it entirely dependent on her leadership for its election fortunes. Garibi Hatao (Stop Poverty) was the theme for Gandhi's 1971 bid. The slogan and the proposed anti-poverty programs that came with it were designed to give Gandhi an independent national support, based on rural and urban poor. This would allow her to bypass the dominant rural castes both in and of state and local government; likewise the urban commercial class. And, for their part, the previously voiceless poor would at last gain both political worth and political weight.
The programs created through Garibi Hatao, though carried out locally, were funded, developed, supervised, and staffed by New Delhi and the Indian National Congress party. "These programs also provided the central political leadership with new and vast patronage resources to be disbursed...throughout the country."[10] In the end, Garibi Hatao did little to help the poor: Only about 4% of all funds allocated for economic development went to the three main anti-poverty programs, and almost none of it ever reached the 'poorest of the poor'. So although the program failed to stop poverty it achieved its goal of getting Gandhi elected.
Accusations of authoritarianism
Gandhi had already been accused of authoritarianism. By using her strong parliamentary majority, her ruling Congress Party had amended the Constitution and altered the balance of power between the Centre and the States in favour of the Central Government. She had twice imposed President's Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution by declaring states ruled by opposition parties as "lawless and chaotic", and thus seizing control. In addition, elected officials and the administrative services resented the growing influence of Sanjay Gandhi, who had become Gandhi's close political adviser at the expense of men like P. N. Haksar, Gandhi's previous adviser during her rise to power. In response to her new tendency for authoritarian use of power, public figures and former freedom-fighters like Jaya Prakash Narayan, Satyendra Narayan Sinha and Acharya Jivatram Kripalani toured India, speaking actively against her and her government.
On 12 June 1975 the High Court of Allahabad declared Indira Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha void on grounds of alleged malpractices in an election petition filed by Raj Narain (who had repeatedly contested her Parliamentary constituency of Rae Bareli without success). The court thus ordered her to be removed from her seat in Parliament and banned from running in elections for six years. The Prime Minister must be a member of either the Lok Sabha (lower house in the Parliament of India) or the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Parliament). Thus, this decision effectively removed her from office.
When Gandhi appealed the decision, the opposition parties and their supporters, eager to gain political capital from the situation, rallied en masse calling for her resignation. The sheer number of strikes by unions and protesters paralyzed life in many states. To strengthen this movement, J. P. Narayan called upon the police to disobey orders if asked to fire on unarmed crowds. Public disenchantment with her government combined with hard economic times, and huge crowds of protesters surrounded the Parliament building and her residence in Delhi, demanding her resignation.

A still from Anand Patwardhan's first documentary Waves of Revolution, about the unrest in Bihar, distributed clandestinely within India and smuggled out in sections to create awareness abroad.
State of Emergency (1975-1977)
Main article: Indian Emergency (1975-1977)
Gandhi moved to restore 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, because of the disorder and lawlessness following the Allahabad High Court decision. Accordingly, Ahmed declared a State of Emergency caused by internal disorder, based on the provisions of Article 352 of the Constitution, on 26 June 1975.
Rule by Decree
Within a few months, President's Rule was imposed on the two opposition party ruled states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu thereby bringing the entire country under direct Central rule.[11] Police were granted powers to impose curfews and indefinitely detain citizens and all publications were subjected to substantial censorship by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Inder Kumar Gujral, a future prime minister himself, resigned as Minister for Information and Broadcasting to protest Sanjay Gandhi's interference in his work. Finally, impending legislative assembly elections were indefinitely postponed, with all opposition-controlled state governments being removed by virtue of the constitutional provision allowing for a dismissal of a state government on recommendation of the state's governor.
Gandhi used the emergency provisions to grant herself extraordinary powers.
"Unlike her father [Nehru], who preferred to deal with strong chief ministers in control of their legislative parties and state party organizations, Mrs. Gandhi set out to remove every Congress chief minister who had an independent base and to replace each of them with ministers personally loyal to her...Even so, stability could not be maintained in the states..."[12]
It is alleged that she further moved President Ahmed to issue ordinances that did not need to be debated in Parliament, allowing her to rule by decree.
Simultaneously, Gandhi's government undertook a campaign to stamp out dissent including the arrest and detention of thousands of political activists; Sanjay was instrumental in initiating the clearing of slums around Delhi's Jama Masjid under the supervision of Jag Mohan, later Lt. Governor of Delhi, which allegedly left thousands of people homeless and hundreds killed, and led to communal embitterment in those parts of the nation's capital; and the family planning program which forcibly imposed vasectomy on thousands of fathers and was often poorly administered.
Third term
In 1977, Gandhi called elections. One factor was the economic gains, though there may have been political considerations at play. Gandhi may have grossly misjudged her popularity by reading what the heavily censored press wrote about her. In any case, she was soundly defeated by the Janata Party. Janata, led by her long-time rival, Desai and with Jai Prakash Narayan as its spiritual guide, claimed the elections were the last chance for India to choose between "democracy and dictatorship." Indira and Sanjay Gandhi both lost their seats, and Congress was cut down to 153 seats (compared with 350 in the previous Lok Sabha), 92 of which were in the south.
Removal, Arrest, and Return

Mrs. Gandhi with M.G. Ramachandran, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. In the post-emergency elections in 1977, only the Southern states returned Congress majorities.

1984 USSR commemorative stamp
Desai became Prime Minister and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, the establishment choice of 1969, became President of the Republic. Gandhi found herself without work, income or residence until winning a by-election in 1978. The Congress Party split during the election campaign of 1977 with veteran Gandhi supporters like Jagjivan Ram abandoning her for Janata. The Congress (Gandhi) Party was now a much smaller group in Parliament, although the official opposition.
Unable to govern owing to fractious coalition warfare, the Janata government's Home Minister, Choudhary Charan Singh, ordered the arrest of Indira and Sanjay Gandhi on several charges, none of which would be easy to prove in an Indian court. The arrest meant that Indira was automatically expelled from Parliament. However, this strategy backfired disastrously. Her arrest and long-running trial, however, gained her great sympathy from many people who had feared her as a tyrant just two years earlier.
The Janata coalition was only united by its hatred of Mrs. Gandhi (or "that woman" as some called her). With so little in common, the government was bogged down by infighting and Gandhi was able to use the situation to her advantage. She began giving speeches again, tacitly apologizing for "mistakes" made during the Emergency. Desai resigned in June 1979, and Charan Singh was appointed Prime Minister by Reddy after Mrs. Gandhi promised that Congress would support his government from outside.
After a short interval, she withdrew her initial support and President Reddy dissolved Parliament in the winter of 1979. In elections held the following January, Congress was returned to power with a landslide majority.
Indira Gandhi was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize (for 1983-84).
Currency crisis
During the early 1980s, Indira's administration failed to arrest the 40 percent fall in the value of the Indian Rupee from 7 to 12 to the US Dollar.
Operation Blue Star and assassination

Indira Gandhi's saree and her belongings at the time of her assasination, preserved at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum in New Delhi.
Main articles: Operation Blue Star, 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, and Indira Gandhi assassination
Gandhi's later years were bedeviled with problems in Punjab. In September 1984, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale 's separatist Sikh militant group took up positions within the precincts of the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine.[13] Despite the presence of thousands of civilians in the Golden Temple complex at the time, Gandhi ordered the Army into the shrine in an attempt to clear it of the militants. Accounts differ in the number of military and civilian casualties. Government estimates include four officers, seventy-nine soldiers, and 492 militants; other accounts are much higher, perhaps 500 or more troops and 3,000 others, including many pilgrims caught in the crossfire.[14] While the exact figures related to civilian casualties are disputed, the timing and method of the attack were widely criticized.
Indira Gandhi had numerous bodyguards, two of whom were Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, both Sikhs. On 31 October 1984 they assassinated Indira Gandhi with their service weapons in the garden of the Prime Minister's Residence at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. As she was walking to be interviewed by the British actor Peter Ustinov filming a documentary for Irish television, she passed a wicket gate, guarded by Satwant and Beant. According to information available immediately following the incident, Beant Singh shot her thrice using his side-arm and Satwant Singh fired twenty-two rounds into her using a Sten submachine gun. Beant Singh was shot dead and Satwant Singh was shot and arrested by her other bodyguards.
Gandhi died on her way to the hospital, in her official car, but she was not declared dead until many hours later. She was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where doctors operated on her. Official accounts at the time stated as many as 29 entry and exit wounds and some reports stated 31 bullets were extracted from her body. She was cremated on 3 November, near Raj Ghat and the place was called Shakti Sthal. After her death, sectarian unrest created by congress politicians loyal to Indira Gandhi engulfed New Delhi and several other cities in India, including Kanpur, Asansol and Indore, leading to the death of thousands of Sikhs. Gandhi's friend and biographer Pupul Jayakar would later reveal Indira's tension, and her premonition about what might happen in the wake of Operation Blue Star.
Personal life
Nehru-Gandhi family
Main article: Nehru-Gandhi Family

Indira Gandhi's personal library.

Portrait of Feroze and Indira Gandhi.
Initially Sanjay had been her chosen heir; but after his death in a flying accident, his mother persuaded a reluctant Rajiv Gandhi to quit his job as a pilot and enter politics in February 1981.
After Indira Gandhi's death, Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister. In May 1991, he too was assassinated, this time at the hands of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam militants. Rajiv's widow, Sonia Gandhi, led the United Progressive Alliance to a surprise electoral victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
Sonia Gandhi declined the opportunity to assume the office of Prime Minister (though some debate if a foreign born could have been the prime minister) but remains in control of the Congress' political apparatus; Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, formerly finance minister, now heads the nation. Rajiv's children, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have also entered politics. Sanjay Gandhi's widow, Maneka Gandhi - who fell out with Indira after Sanjay's death and was famously thrown out of the Prime Minister's house[15] - as well as Sanjay's son, Varun Gandhi, are active in politics as members of the main opposition BJP party.
Indira Gandhi in popular culture
Her assassination is mentioned by Tom Clancy in his novel Executive Orders.
Although never mentioned by name, Indira Gandhi is clearly the prime minister in A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
In Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children, Indira is responsible for the eponymous characters' downfall, referred to throughout the novel as "The Widow." This portrayal of Indira Gandhi raised controversy in some circles for its harsh depiction both of her and of her policies.
In Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel, the character of Priya Duryodhani clearly refers to Indira Gandhi.
Aandhi, a Hindi feature film directed by Gulzar, is a partly fictionalized adaptation of some events in Indira's life, particularly her (played by Suchitra Sen) difficult relationship with her husband (played by Sanjeev Kumar).
In Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Indira Gandhi is noted several times as "Mrs. Gandhi" when referring to the political climate of India in the mid 1970s.

Rajiv Gandhi Photo N Wallpapers

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Rajiv Gandhi Biography

Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi
9th Prime Minister of India
In office31 October 1984 – 2 December 1989
Giani Zail SinghRamaswamy Venkataraman
Preceded by
Indira Gandhi
Succeeded by
V. P. Singh
20 August 1944Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
21 May 1991 (aged 46)Sriperumbudur, TN, India
Political party
Indian National Congress
Sonia Gandhi
Airline pilot
Adi Dharm

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Rajiv Gandhi (Hindi: राजीव गांधी Rājīv Gāndhī IPA: [raːdʒiːv gaːnd̪ʰiː]; 20 August 1944 – 21 May 1991), the elder son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the 9th Prime Minister of India (and the third from the Nehru-Gandhi family) from his mother's death on 31 October 1984 until his resignation on 2 December 1989 following a general election defeat. He was the youngest Prime Minister of India (at the age of 40).
Rajiv Gandhi was a professional Pilot for Indian Airlines before entering politics. While at Cambridge, he met Italian-born Sonia Maino whom he later married. He remained aloof from politics despite his mother being the Indian Prime Minister, and it was only following the death of his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi in 1980 that Rajiv entered politics. After the assassination of his mother in 1984 after Operation Blue Star, Indian National Congress party leaders nominated him to be Prime Minister.
Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to a major election victory in 1984 soon after, amassing the largest majority ever in Indian Parliament. The Congress party won 411 seats out of 542. He began dismantling the License Raj - government quotas, tariffs and permit regulations on economic activity - modernized the telecommunications industry, the education system, expanded science and technology initiatives and improved relations with the United States.
In 1988, Rajiv reversed the coup in Maldives antagonising the militant Tamil outfits such as PLO. He also was responsible for sending Indian troops (Indian Peace Keeping Force or IPKF) for peace efforts in Sri Lanka, which soon ended in open conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group. In mid-1987, the Bofors scandal broke his honest, corruption-free image and resulted in a major defeat for his party in the 1989 elections.
Rajiv Gandhi remained Congress President until the elections in 1991. While campaigning, he was assassinated by a female LTTE suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam. His widow Sonia Gandhi became the leader of the Congress party in 1998, and led the party to victory in the 2004 elections. His son Rahul Gandhi is a Member of Parliament.
Rajiv Gandhi was posthumously awarded the Highest National Award of India, Bharat Ratna, joining a list of 40 luminaries, including Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
1 Early life
1.1 Education
2 Entry into politics
3 Prime Minister
3.1 Currency crisis
3.2 Bofors scandal
3.3 Sri Lanka policy
3.4 Shah Bano case
3.5 Assassination
4 References
5 See also
6 External links
6.1 Further reading
Early life
Rajiv Gandhi was born into India's most famous political family. His grandfather was the Indian independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who would later become India's first Prime Minister after independence.
Rajiv is not related to Mahatma Gandhi although they share the same surname. Feroze was one of the younger members of the Indian National Congress party, and had befriended the young Indira, and also her mother Kamala Nehru, while working on party affairs at Allahabad. Subsequently, Indira and Feroze grew closer to each other while in England, and they married, despite initial objections from Jawaharlal due to his religion.[1][2], in March 1942.
Rajiv was born in 1944, during a time when both his parents were in and out of British prisons. In August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru became the prime minister of independent India, and the family settled in Allahabad, and then at Lucknow, where Feroze became the editor of The National Herald newspaper (founded by Motilal Nehru). However, a coolness had developed in the marriage and in 1949, Indira and the two sons moved to Delhi to live with Jawaharlal, ostensibly so that Indira could assist her father in his duties, acting as official hostess, and helping run the huge residence. Meanwhile, Feroze continued alone in Lucknow. Nonetheless, in 1952, Indira helped Feroze manage his campaign for elections to the first Parliament of India from Rae Bareli.
After becoming an MP, Feroze Gandhi also moved to Delhi, but "Indira continued to stay with her father, thus putting the final seal on the separation.".[3] Relations were strained further when Feroze challenged corruption within the Congress leadership over the Haridas Mundhra scandal. Jawaharlal suggested that the matter be resolved in private, but Feroze insisted on taking the case directly to parliament:
"Parliament must exercise vigilance and control over the biggest and most powerful financial institution it has created, the Life Insurance Corporation of India, whose misapplication of public funds we shall scrutinise today." Feroze Gandhi, Speech in Parliament, 1957-12-16.[4].
The scandal, and its transparent and efficient investigation by justice M C Chagla, would lead to the resignation of one of Nehru's key allies, finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari, further alienating Feroze from Jawaharlal.
After Feroze Gandhi had a heart attack in 1958, the family was reconciled briefly when they vacationed in Kashmir. However, Feroze would soon die from a second heart attack in 1960.
By then Rajiv was away at a private boarding school for boys: initially at the Welham Boys' School and later The Doon School. Subsequently he went to university in the United Kingdom, at the Imperial College London and Trinity College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he met and fell in love with an Italian student, Sonia Maino, who was there to learn English. Maino's family opposed the match, but Maino came to India with Rajiv and they were married in 1968.
Rajiv began working for Indian Airlines as a professional pilot while his mother became Prime Minister in 1966. He exhibited no interest in politics and did not live regularly with his mother in Delhi at the Prime Minister's residence. In 1970, his wife, Sonia gave birth to Rahul, their first child, and in 1972, to Priyanka, their second. Even as Gandhi remained aloof in politics, his younger brother Sanjay became a close advisor to their mother.
Entry into politics
It was following his younger brother's death in 1980 that Rajiv was pressured by Indian National Congress party politicians and his mother to enter politics. Rajiv and his wife were both opposed to the idea, and Rajiv even publicly stated that he would not contest for his brother's seat, but he finally accepted his mother's urging and announced his candidacy for Parliament[citation needed]. His entry was criticized by many in the press, public and opposition political parties, who saw the role of Nehru's dynasty intensifying in Indian politics[citation needed].
Elected for Sanjay's Lok Sabha (parliamentary) constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh state in February 1981, Rajiv became an important political advisor to his mother. It was widely perceived that Indira Gandhi was grooming Rajiv for the prime minister's job, and Rajiv soon became the president of the Youth Congress - the Congress party's youth wing.
Prime Minister
Rajiv was in West Bengal when Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984. Top Congress leaders, as well as President Zail Singh pressed Rajiv to become India's Prime Minister, within hours of his mother's assassination by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Commenting on the anti-Sikh riots in the national capital Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi said, "' When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes" [5]; a statement for which he was widely criticised. Many Congress politicians were accused of orchestrating the violence [6]. Soon after assuming office, Rajiv asked President Zail Singh to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections, as the Lok Sabha completed its five year term. Rajiv Gandhi also officially became the President of the Congress party.
Owing largely to the feelings of sympathy in wake of Indira's murder, the Congress party won a landslide victory - with largest majority in history of Indian Parliament[7], giving Rajiv absolute control of government. Rajiv Gandhi also benefited from his youth and a general perception of being Mr. Clean, or free of a background in corrupt politics . Rajiv thus revived hopes and enthusiasm amongst the Indian public for the Congress.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi began leading in a direction significantly different from Indira Gandhi's socialism. He improved bilateral relations with the United States - long strained owing to Indira's socialism and close friendship with the USSR - and expanded economic and scientific cooperation[citation needed]. He increased government support for science and technology and associated industries, and reduced import quotas, taxes and tariffs on technology-based industries, especially computers, airlines, defence and telecommunications. He introduced measures significantly reducing the License Raj - allowing businesses and individuals to purchase capital, consumer goods and import without red-tape and bureaucratic restrictions. In 1986, Rajiv announced a national education policy to modernize and expand higher education programs across India. Rajiv Gandhi was the founder of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya System in the year 1986. Rajiv Gandhi can be called the father of telecom revolution. His efforts created MTNL in 1986 and the public call offices, better known as PCOs, helped spread telephones in the rural areas. The work that he did then laid the foundation for a telecom boom in 1990s.
Rajiv authorized an extensive police and Army campaign to contain terrorism in Punjab. A state of martial law existed in the Punjab state, and civil liberties, commerce and tourism were greatly disrupted[citation needed]. There are many accusations of human rights violations by police officials as well as by the militants during this period. It is alleged that even as the situation in Punjab came under control, the Indian government was offering arms and training to the LTTE rebels fighting the Government of Sri Lanka. The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed by Rajiv Gandhi and the Sri Lankan President J.R.Jayewardene, in Colombo on 29 July 1987. The very next day, on 30 July 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was assaulted by a Sinhalese naval cadet named Vijayamunige Rohana de Silva, while receiving honour guard. Though the embarrassed Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene initially attempted to pass off the bizarre assault as "Rajiv tripped a little and slightly lost his balance", Rajiv Gandhi while enroute to New Delhi asserted to J.N. Dixit who was in charge of arranging that disastrous visit, "What is all this nonsensical speculation. Of course, I was hit." Rajiv's government suffered a major setback when its efforts to arbitrate between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE rebels backfired[citation needed].
Currency crisis
During the late 1980s, Rajiv's administration failed to arrest the 30 per cent fall in the value of the Indian Rupee from 12 to 17 to the US Dollar.
Bofors scandal

Rajiv with President R. Venkataraman and Tamil Nadu Chief minister M. G. Ramachandran at the unveiling of a statue of Tamil poet Subramania Barathi
Main article: Bofors scandal
Rajiv's finance minister, Vishwanath Pratap Singh uncovered compromising details about government and political corruption, to the consternation of Congress leaders. Transferred to the Defence ministry, Singh uncovered what became known as the Bofors scandal, involving tens of millions of dollars - concerned alleged payoffs by the Swedish Bofors arms company through an Italian businessman and Gandhi family associate, Ottavio Quattrocchi, in return for Indian contracts. Upon the uncovering of the scandal, Singh was conspicuously dismissed from office, and later from Congress membership. Rajiv Gandhi himself was later personally implicated in the scandal, when the investigation was continued by Narasimhan Ram and Chitra Subramaniam of The Hindu newspaper, shattering his image as an honest politician, however, he was cleared over this allegation in 2004 [8]
V. P. Singh's image as an exposer of government corruption made him very popular with the public[citation needed], and opposition parties united under his name to form the Janata Dal coalition. In the 1989 elections, the Congress suffered a major setback. With the support of Indian communists and the Bharatiya Janata Party, V. P. Singh and his Janata Dal formed a government. Rajiv Gandhi became the Leader of the Opposition, while remaining Congress president. While some believe that Rajiv and Congress leaders influenced the collapse of V. P. Singh's government in October 1990 by promising support to Chandra Shekhar, a high-ranking leader in the Janata Dal, sufficient internal contradictions existed, within the ruling coalition, especially over the controversial reservation issue, to cause a fall of government. Rajiv's Congress offered outside support briefly to Chandra Sekhar, who became Prime Minister. But this support was withdrawn in 1991 and fresh elections were announced.
Sri Lanka policy
The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord signed was opposed by the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa and was forced to accept it due to pressure from then President Junius Richard Jayewardene. In January 1989 Premadasa was elected President and on a platform that promised that the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) leave within three months.[9]In the 1989 elections both the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United National Party wanted the IPKF to withdraw and they got 95% of the vote.
The police action was unpopular in India as well, especially in Tamil Nadu as India was fighting the LTTE Tamil separatists.
Rajiv Gandhi refused to withdraw the IPKF, believing that the only way he could succeed in ending the civil war was to politically force Premadasa and militarily force the LTTE to accept the accord. Meanwhile in December 1989 Indian elections V.P.Singh became the Prime Minister and completed the pullout. The IPKF operation cost over 1100 Indian soldiers lives and cost over 2000 crores.
Shah Bano case
Main article: Shah Bano case
In 1985, Supreme Court of India gave a judgement in favour of a Muslim divorcee Shah Bano that her husband should give alimony to her. Muslim fundamentalists in India treated it as an encroachment in Muslim Personal Law and protested against it. Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, agreed to their demands and cited the gesture as an example of "secularism"[citation needed]. In 1986, the Congress (I) party, which had an absolute majority in Parliament at the time, passed an act that nullified the Supreme Court's judgement in the Shah Bano case.

The stone mosaic that stands at the exact location where Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumbudur
Main article: Rajiv Gandhi assassination
Rajiv Gandhi's last public meeting was at Sriperumbudur on 21 May 1991, in a village approximately 30-miles from Madras, Tamil Nadu, where he was assassinated while campaigning for the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha Congress candidate.[10] The assassination was carried out by the LTTE suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam also known as Gayatri and Dhanu.
At 10:10 p.m., the assassin Dhanu approached him in a public meeting and greeted the former Prime Minister. She then bent down to touch his feet (an expression of respect among Hindus) and detonated a belt laden with 700 grams of RDX explosive tucked below her dress.[11] The former Prime Minister along with many others were killed in the explosion that followed. The assassination was caught on film through the lens of a local photographer, whose camera and film were found at the site. The cameraman himself also died in the blast but the camera remained intact.
The Rajiv Gandhi Memorial was built at the site recently and is one of the major tourist attractions to the small industrial town.

The Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur.
The Supreme Court judgement, by Judge Thomas, confirmed that the killing was carried out due to personal animosity of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran towards Mr Rajiv Gandhi arising out of his sending the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka and the alleged IPKF atrocities against Srilankan Tamils. However, it should be noted that the Rajiv Gandhi administration had already antagonised other Tamil militant organisations like PLOTE for reversing the military coup in Maldives back in 1988.
The judgement further cites the death of Thileepan in a hunger strike and the suicide by 12 LTTE cadres in a vessel in Oct 1987.
In the Jain Commission report, various people and agencies are named as suspected of having been involved in the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. Among them, the cleric Chandraswami was suspected of involvement, including financing the assassination.[12][13] [14] The interim report of the Jain Commission created a storm when it accused Karunanidhi of a role in the assassination, leading to Congress withdrawing its support for the I. K. Gujral government and fresh elections in 1998. LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham told the Indian television channel NDTV that the killing was a "great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy which we deeply regret." [15][16] A memorial christened Veer Bhumi was constructed at his cremation spot. The International Airport constructed at Hyderabad has been named after Rajiv Gandhi and was inaugurated by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi

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