TODAY -

Indira Gandhi

L Manglem Singh *

23rd Death Anniversary of Late Indira Gandhi :: October 31, 2007
23rd Death Anniversary of Late Indira Gandhi on October 31, 2007 :: Pix - Jinendra Maibam



"If we take care of work at the grassroots level, elections will hold no uncertainties"
Indira Gandhi

The house where Indira Gandhi was born became the head quarters of the Indian National Movement and she grew up in the thick of the freedom struggle. The Swaraj Bhavan, Motilal Nehru palatial forty room home where Indira Nehru was born on 19th November 1917. Motilal Nehru chose his mother's name Indrani, modified to the more modern and fashionable Indira, for the baby and Jawaharlal added the Buddhist Priyadarshini which means 'dear to the sight' and also 'one who reveals the good'.

In her formative years, four extraordinary influence on Indiraji her parents Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Though she studied at Santiniketan and Oxford, her real education began earlier at Santiniketan Indira was exposed not only to dance, but also to music (classical Indian and European), theatre, painting, sculpture and crafts of all sorts of the arts for her, but they all gave her pleasure, and it was at Santiniketan, too, that Indira began to be obsessed with colour, not only in the virtual arts but also the natural world and even in such a mandate context as clothing.

26th March, 1942. It was Ram Navmi, the birthday of Lord Rama, the wedding began early, before it became too hot. At 9:00 am the bride came down from her room dressed, significantly, in khadi hand woven from thread spun by Nehru in prison into a sari that was tinted pink and edged with delicate silver embroidery. Ferozji was dressed in the tradition at white Congress khadi sherwani and churidar trousers, and he, too, wore a garland of flowers.

Immediately after wedding, Indira and Feroze moved into a small rented house at 5 Fort Road in Allahabad, Feroze did not have a job and apparently at this stage money was not a problem and no doubt a substantial part of the wedding gifts came in the form of cash. Indira and Feroze had two sons, Rajiv and Sanjay. Both grew up with inquisitive minds and a keen interest in mechanical toys and gadgets.

This trait was ignited in them to a great extent by Feroze, who enjoyed gathering he came across. With the passage of time, both Rajiv and Sanjay got involved in the domain of mechanics. Whether it was cars, planes or any other type of engine, it invariably aroused their curiosity.

Indira was a tender mother. Perhaps she was mindful of her own loneliness as a child so she personally supervised Rajiv and Sanjay, played with them and took them for films that were suitable for children. They had a Danish governess, Anna, who had been secretary to scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose. Anna was a strict disciplinarian who believed in giving Rajiv and Sanjay cold showers, sunbaths, exercise and a diet consisting essentially of vegetables and yoghurt.

From 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 to 1984, Indira Gandhi served fifteen years as Prime Minister, but not consecutively Indira was a lady of very strong will and this was why she was called "The Iron Lady of India". She went to war with Pakistan, and won a resounding victory that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. In 1967, Indira Gandhi solved the crisis with a Constitutional Amendment that guaranteed the use of both Hindi and English as official languages.

In 1969, Indira Gandhi took an important step where nationalized fourteen major commercial banks. As a result, a much larger area was covered, and the number of branches rose from 6200 to 8200. Furthermore, the nationalization of banks saves investments in small and medium size enterprises and agricultural sector increase, while at the same time it encouraged the poorer sections of society to save more.

Ever since partition, the people of East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, felt that West Pakistan was ignoring them, despite the fact that their population was more. This led to a revolution in East Pakistan, which announced its independence from Pakistan.

As a result, there was a bloody confrontation between the Pakistan Army, and the people of East Pakistan. As Pakistan realized that it would be impossible for it to retain control over East Pakistan, it decided to compensate the loss by invading Indian territory. Pakistan resorted to pre-emptive strikes on Indian air bases in the Western and Northern sectors on December 3rd, 1971 resulting in a full scale war. Lasting just 13 days, the Indo-Pak was of 1971 is considered to be one of the shortest wars in history, and it heralded the birth of a new nation Bangladesh.

She was the first Prime Minister to give permission for a nuclear test. While touring the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on 7th September 1972, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave verbal authorization to the scientists there to manufacture the nuclear device they had designed, and prepare it for a test.

On 18th May 1974, India successfully concluded an underground nuclear test, unofficially code named as 'Smiling Budha', near the desert village of Pokharan in Rajasthan. The success of the test stunned the world, but Indira Gandhi emphasized that it was conducted only for peaceful purposes mainly for industrial and scientific use.

Above all, it reflects her dedication to the honour and integrity of India, for she ultimately laid down her life.


* L Manglem Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 21, 2016.


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