India - Be in the Rendezvous land of color, culture and fauna - Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, famous as 'the iron lady' was the first lady Prime Minister of India. She was one of the avant garde politicians of India who has contributed a lot to make India a strong nation.

Famous India > Famous India People > Indira Gandhi
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Indira Gandhi

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Indira Gandhi : The Iron Lady

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, later the first prime minister of India. Being influenced and inspired by her parents, Indira Gandhi rose to power in India and eventually became prime minister. She dedicated her life to progress in her country despite the overwhelming problems and challenges she encountered.

A graduate of Visva-Bharati University, Bengal, she also studied at the University of Oxford, England. In 1938 she joined the National Congress party and became active in India's movement for independence. In 1942 she married Feroze Gandhi (1913-60), a Parsi lawyer also active in the party. Shortly after both were arrested by the British on charges of subversion and spent 13 months in prison.

Indira Gandhi
Road to Fame
In 1959, Gandhi became the fourth woman elected president of the Indian National Congress. Five years later in 1964, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri appointed Indira Gandhi as minister of information and broadcasting. As minister, she most importantly encouraged the making of inexpensive radios and started a family planning program.
Indira Gandhi
After Shastri's death in 1966, Indira Gandhi served as prime minister until India held the next election. She won that election, and in 1967, became the first woman ever elected to lead a democracy. In 1971, Gandhi was re-elected by campaigning with the slogan "Abolish Poverty."

Indira GandhiTo control population growth, Gandhi implemented a voluntary sterilization program. As a result, adversaries criticized her and her administration in general. To secure her power and because of escalating riots, on June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency which limited the personal freedom of Indians. Also, she ordered the arrests of the main opposition leaders. In 1977, she was voted out of office but regained her position as prime minister in 1980.

On October 31, 1984, on the unfateful day, Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards assassinated her. They did so to avenge the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Gandhi ordered the storming in June because of terrorist activity.

As prime minister, Gandhi tried to improve the lives of Indians. Her main accomplishments were improving relations with the Soviet Union and victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Also in 1971, India sent its first satellite into space. Economically, Indira Gandhi led India to one of the fastest growing economies in the world toward the end of her time as prime minister.

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