Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, born in Allahabad on November 19, 1917, was the first woman Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1984. We’ll help you celebrate her special day right here. Don’t miss out!
Daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, she was the first woman to hold the position of head of the Indian government. She had the surname of her husband Feroze Gandhi, who had changed his surname for political reasons.
A brilliant politician, strategist, and thinker, she possessed great political ambition. As a woman and occupying the highest government position in a very patriarchal society, Indira was expected to be a leader of little importance, but her actions proved otherwise. She joined the Indian National Congress Party in 1939 and spent more than a year in prison for wartime activities. Her early years in politics were dedicated to helping her father, Nehru, Prime Minister, serving as President of Congress from 1959 to 1960. She became Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the cabinet of Lal Bahadur Shastri, and in 1966, after his death, she was chosen to succeed him as prime minister, after a brief interim exercised by Gulzarilal Nanda.
During the following years, she was engaged in a prolonged feud with the old leadership of Congress, but she defeated them with the help of the left-wing, between 1969 and 1970. As Prime Minister, Indira carefully used the instruments at her disposal to consolidate her power and authority. Using her power of appointments, she created notoriously weak cabinets. She created her own Congress party, after the November 1969 split into the Indian National Congress party. Re-elected in 1971, after a fierce campaign along the lines of her well-known socialist platform with the famous slogan — “garibi hatao” or “expel poverty” — she managed to improve the fortunes of her government with the successes of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War against her neighbor. Pakistan, supported by the United States of America, in East Bengal, where Indian intervention allowed local separatists to cap their nine-month war of independence with the creation of an independent republic, Bangladesh.
She joins the Indian National Congress Party and spends more than a year in prison for wartime activities.
The general elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies are the first electoral test for Gandhi.
Gandhi institutes a state of emergency where basic civil liberties are suspended and the press is censored.
She returns to power after free and fair elections.
After Gandhi orders military action in the Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star, her bodyguards, and Sikh nationalists assassinate her on 31 October.
Why We Love Indira Gandhi
She was a powerful woman
In 1999, she was named Woman of the Millennium in a poll organized by the B.B.C. In 2020, she was named by “Time” magazine among the world’s 100 most powerful women who defined the last century.
Bangladesh was recognized
She was the first government head in the world to formally recognize Bangladesh as an independent country. She was a considerate and kind woman.
Bharat Ratna was awarded to her
Indira was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna after leading India to victory against Pakistan in the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. She was admirable.
5 Surprising Facts
She started young
She led the Vanar Sena at the age of 12, and the protestant group over the time amassed around 60,000 young revolutionaries who addressed envelopes, made flags, conveyed messages, and put up notices about demonstrations during the Indian freedom movement.
Husband and partner
She was married to fellow freedom fighter and long-time family acquaintance Feroze Gandhi in 1942, despite widespread criticism of the relationship between the two in the country.
Besides serving as India’s third Prime Minister, she was the Minister for Atomic Energy from September 1967 to March 1977; she also held the additional charge of the Ministry of External Affairs from September 5, 1967, to February 14, 1969; moreover, Gandhi headed the Ministry of Home Affairs from June 1970 to November 1973 and Minister for Space from June 1972 to March 1977.
One of the achievements that propelled Indira to the status of a widely adored and respected leader in the country was India’s victory during the India-Pakistan war that broke out in 1971.
State of emergency
In 1975, after she was convicted of an election offense and barred from politics for six years, she imposed the State of Emergency.
Indira Gandhi FAQs
Is Indira Gandhi related to Mahatma?
Indira’s father was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, however, the fact that Indira ended up with the same last name as the iconic Indian leader wasn’t due to a connection with Mahatma; instead, Indira became Indira Gandhi following her marriage to Feroze Gandhi who wasn’t related to Mahatma.
How many languages did Indira Gandhi speak?
She spoke three languages. Hindi, English, and French.
Who gave Bharat Ratna to Indira Gandhi?
Giri conferred this award to Indira Gandhi for steering India to victory in the 14-day-long 1971 war with Pakistan over East Pakistan, now Bangladesh; President V. V. Giri took full responsibility for conferring the honor to Indira.
Indira Gandhi’s birthday dates