SMT. INDIRA GANDHI
“Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega, Indira Tera Nam Rahega” Or “Every drop of my blood will contribute to the growth of the nation”
Smt. Indira Gandhi was the great daughter of a great father. She was the first lady Prime Minister of India. She was the only child of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. She was born on November 17, 1917, at Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh. Nehru’s family was engaged in the freedom movement. Her mother Smt. Kamla Nehru died leaving her in Nehru’s care. Indira grew with the growth of India’s freedom movement. She started her studies at Allahabad. She received her early education in India and Switzerland. Later on, she studied at Oxford and Shanti Niketan. She studied from and lived in the close company of Rabindra Nath Tagore. Tagore had a powerful impact on her mind and personality. She worked under the affectionate guidance of Gandhiji, Moti Lal Nehru, Tagore another great leader and patriot.
It was because of the inheritance of these qualities that she came to be regarded as Priyadarshni’. She got different compliments from different persons. She was the ‘Charming ruthless Lady’, the most powerful lady in the world. She was described as ‘Durga’. There may be some exaggeration. But she tried to live up to these titles.
She was a great Congress leader. She was sent to jail many times by the Britishers. At the age of 25, she was married to Mr. Feroze Gandhi, and soon after the marriage, both husband and wife were put behind the bars on account of their taking part in the struggle for the independence of the country. Indira had to live in separation from her husband. Mr. Feroze Gandhi expired in 1960, leaving behind her two sons — Sanjay and Rajiv.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1959, and she did her job well. She became a Minister in the cabinet of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1966, she became the Third Prime Minister of India after Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death in Tashkent. After the death of Nehru, a group of Congress politicians was the king-maker. She was considered only a doll. That was why they made her the Prime Minister. They regarded that they would remain at the top of affairs so long as she was the Prime Minister. They did not like Morar Ji Desai to become Prime Minister.
Within a very short period, she began to assert her authority. She emerged as the strongest Prime Minister and the Congress President. There was great turbulence in the Congress Party. It was divided. But she overcame all the difficulties. She firmly established that her Congress was a real and effective party. She led the Congress party to victory in the Lok Sabha Polls of 1967 and 1971.
The years of emergency 1975-1977 brought her a bad name. People rejected her in 1977. So-in 1977 Mrs. Gandhi and her party were defeated. But the Janata Party broke and the Congress again became the victorious party in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls. She was courageous, fearless, and bold like her father. She traveled widely in foreign countries. She was known to almost all the important personalities of the world.
Mrs. Gandhi was an acknowledged world leader. She was the chairman of NAM (Non-aligned Movement). She hosted Common Wealth Heads of Government meet in India. She managed to organize the Asiad. At the international level also, there were many developments. Pakistan committed a strange type of attack against India. It compelled about 90 lakh people from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to run to India. In this struggle, Bangladesh emerged as a free country with the help of India.
She worked hard to normalize India’s relations with Sri Lanka, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. She wanted to brighten India’s image in the world. Her domestic and international policies were a great success. Who can say that women are weaker than men after observing Mrs. Gandhi’s great career? She was a determined and resolute leader. She worked with zeal and vigor. She did her best to solve the Punjab tangle. But it is said that opposition parties never stood by her.
It was a black day for India when Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the beloved Prime Minister and leader of the nation, was shot down by two of her security guards, on the early morning of the 31st of October, 1984, as she was walking down to her office at 1, Akbar Road from her adjoining residence at 1, Safdarjung Road, where she had an appointment with an Irish television company. The team had accompanied Smt. Indira Gandhi on her just-concluded tour of Orissa.
Smt. Indira Gandhi was picked up by the personal security guards and sent to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at 9.30 a.m. She died shortly even though doctors made superhuman efforts to revive her. Finally, at about 2.30 p.m., the doctors gave up all efforts and Smt. Indira Gandhi was finally declared dead.
Smt. Indira Gandhi loved India’s soil more than she loved her soul. Her mortal ashes have mixed with the waters and soils of Mother India. We can pay our homage to her only if we follow her path of selfless service.