Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (November 19, 1917 – October 31, 1984) was Prime Minister of India from January 19, 1966, to March 24, 1977, and again from January 14, 1980, until her assassination on October 31, 1984.
Daughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and mother of another, Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi was one of India’s most remarkable political leaders after independence. In spite of her famous surname, she was no relation to Mahatma Gandhi.
Rise to power
Nehru died on May 24, 1964, and Gandhi, at the urgings of the new Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, contested elections and joined the Government, being immediately appointed Minister of 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 embarrassed, owing to their lack of such initiative. Minister Gandhi’s actions 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. With the backing of the Syndicate, in a vote of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Gandhi beat Morarji Desai by 355 votes to 169 to become the fifth Prime Minister of India and the first woman to hold that position.
Nuclear security and the Green Revolution
During the 1971 War, the US had sent its Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal as a warning to India not to use the genocide in East Pakistan as a pretext to launch a wider attack against West Pakistan, especially over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
But Gandhi now accelerated the national nuclear program, as it was felt that the nuclear threat from the People’s. The Republic of China and the intrusive interest of the two major superpowers were not conducive to India’s stability and security. She also 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. It was Gandhi’s stubbornness which made even the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister sign the accord according to India’s terms in which Zulfikar Bhutto had to write the last few terms in the agreement in his own handwriting.
Indira Gandhi criticized by some for not making the Line of Control a permanent border while a few critics even believed that Pakistan occupied Kashmir should have extracted from a humiliated Pakistan, whose 93,000 prisoners Of war were under Indian control.
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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 nevertheless became the World’s youngest nuclear power.
Indira Gandhi vowed that never again will she let a food shortage come India’s way. Special agricultural innovation Programs and extra government support launched. In the 1960s had finally resulted in India’s chronic food shortages gradually transformed into surplus production of wheat, rice, cotton, and milk. The country became a food exporter and diversified its commercial crop production as well. In what 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. Gandhi’s economic policies remained socialistic and did not bring major industrialization. This would finally occur in 1991, with the opening of the Indian economy.
Gandhi’s government faced major problems after her tremendous mandate of 1971. The Green Revolution was transforming the lives of India’s vast underclasses. But not with the speed or in the manner promised under “Garibi Hatao” Job growth was not strong enough to curb the widespread unemployment that followed the worldwide economic slowdown caused by the OPEC oil shocks.
Gandhi had already been accused of tendencies towards authoritarianism. Using her strong parliamentary majority, she had amended the Constitution and stripped power from the states granted under the federal system. The Central government had twice imposed President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution by deeming states ruled by opposition parties as “lawless and chaotic”. Thus winning administrative control of those states. Elected officials and the administrative services resented the growing influence of Sanjay Gandhi. Who had become Gandhi’s close political advisor at the expense of men like P.N. Haksar, Gandhi’s chosen strategist during her rise to power. Renowned public figures and former freedom-fighters like Jaya Prakash Narayan, and Acharya Jivatram Kripalani now toured the North, speaking actively against her Government.
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In June 1975 the High Court of Allahabad found the sitting Prime Minister guilty of employing a government servant in her election campaign and Congress Party work. Technically, this constituted election fraud. And the court thus ordered her to be removed from her seat in Parliament and banned from running in elections for six years. Gandhi appealed the decision; the opposition parties rallied en masse, calling for her resignation. Strikes by unions and protest rallies paralyzed life in many states. J.P. Narayan’s Janata coalition even called the police to disobey orders if asked to fire on an unarmed public. Public disenchantment combined with hard economic times and an unresponsive government. A huge rally surrounded the Parliament building and Gandhi’s residence in Delhi, demanding her to behave responsibly and resign.
Prime Minister Gandhi advised President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to declare a state of emergency, claiming that the strikes and rallies were creating a state of ‘internal disturbance’. Ahmed was a long-time political ally and in India. The President is bound to act upon the advice rendered by the elected Prime Minister. Accordingly, a State of Emergency caused by the internal disorder. Based on the provisions of Article 352 of the Constitution, was declared on June 26, 1975.
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Even before the Emergency Proclamation ratified by Parliament, Gandhi called out the police and the army to break up the strikes and protests, ordering the arrest of all opposition leaders that very night. Many of these men who had first jailed by the British in the 1930s and 1940s. Powers to impose curfews and indefinitely detain citizens granted to the police. While all publications subjected to substantial censorship by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Finally, impending legislative assembly elections indefinitely postponed, with all opposition-controlled state governments removed by virtue of the constitutional provision allowing for a dismissal of a state government On the recommendation of the local governor.
The Prime Minister Pushed a series of increasingly harsh bills and constitutional amendments through Parliament, with Little discussion or debate. In particular, there was an attempt to amend the Constitution to not only protect a sitting Prime Minister from prosecution. But even to prevent the prosecution of a Prime Minister once he or she had left the post The Prime Minister also ensured that her actions would be beyond judicial review, once her term of office expired. It was clear that Gandhi attempting to protect herself from legal prosecution once the emergency rule was revoked.
Gandhi further utilized President Fakhruddin All Ahmed. To issue ordinances that did not need to be debated Parliament, allowing her- and Sanjay- to effectively rule by degree. Inder Kumar Gujral, a future Prime Minister himself, but then Gandhi’s, resigned as Minister of Information and Broadcasting to protect Sanjay Gandhi’s interference in his work of the ministry.
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The Prime Minister’s emergency rule lasted nineteen months. During this time despite the suspension of civil liberties, the country made significant economic and industrial progress. This was primarily due to the end it put to strikes in factories, colleges, and universities and the repression of trade and student unions. In line with a ubiquitous slogan on the billboards displayed at that time. Baatein Kam, kaam zyada, (“Less talk, more work”), productivity increased and administration streamlined. Tax evasion reduced by zealous government officials, although corruption remained a major problem. Agricultural and industrial production expanded considerably under Gandhi’s 20-point program; revenues increased, and so did India’s financial standing in the international community. Thus much of the urban middle class, in particular, found it worth their while to contain their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs.
Simultaneously, a draconian campaign to stamp out dissent included the arrest and torture of thousands of political activities. The ruthless clearing of slums around Delhi’s lama Masjid ordered by Sanjay and carried out by Jagmohan. Left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and thousands killed. And led to the permanent ghettoization of the nation’s capital, and the family planning program. Which forcibly imposed vasectomy on thousands of fathers. And was Often poorly administered, nurturing a public anger against family planning that persists into the 21st century.
In 1977, greatly misjudging her own popularity, Gandhi called elections and roundly defeated by the Janata Party. Janta led by her long-time rival, Desai and with Narayan as its spiritual guide, claimed the elections were the last chance for India. To choose between “democracy and dictatorship.” To the surprise of some – mainly Western – observers, She meekly agreed to step down.
Removal, arrest, and return
Desai became Prime Minister and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, the establishment choice of 1969, became President of the republic. Gandhi had lost her seat and found herself without work, income or residence. The Congress Party split, and veteran Gandhi supporters like Jagjivan Ram abandoned her for Janata. Unable to govern owing to fractious coalition Warfare, the Janata government’s Home Minister. Choudhary Charan Singh ordered the arrest of Indira and Sanjay sandhi on a slew of charges. Her arrest and long-running trial, however, projected the image of a helpless woman being victimized by the Government, and this triggered her political rebirth.
The Janata coalition only united by its hatred of Gandhi (or “that woman” as some called her). Although freedom returned. The government so bogged down by infighting that almost no attention paid to her basic needs. She was able to use the situation to her advantage. She began giving speeches again, tacitly apologizing for “mistakes” made during the Emergency, and garnering support from icons like Vinoba Bhave. Desai resigned in June 1979, and Singh appointed Prime Minister by the President.
Singh attempted to form a government with his Janata (Secular) coalition but lacked a majority. Charan Singh bargained with Gandhi for the support of Congress MPs. Causing the uproar by his unhesitant coddling of his biggest political opponent. after a short interval. She withdrew her initial support and President Reddy dissolved Parliament, calling fresh elections in 1980. Gandhi’s Congress Party returned to power with a landslide majority.
Indira Gandhi awarded the Lenin Peace Prize (for 1983-84).
Operation Blue Star and assassination
In response to this desecration of the Golden Temple, on October 31, 1984. Two of Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh assassinated her in the garden of the Prime Minister’s Residence at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. As she 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, where they proceeded to open fire with their semiautomatic machine pistols. Before being shot themselves by other bodyguards. She died on her way to the hospital, in her official car, but not declared dead until many hours later.
Indira Gandhi cremated on November 3, near Raj Ghat and the place called Shakti Sthal. After her death, anti-Sikh riots engulfed New Delhi, leading to the death of thousands of innocent Sikhs and leaving much homeless.
1984 Anti-Sikh Riots
1984 Anti-Sikh Riots took place in India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assassinated by two of her Sikh guards acting in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar.
Over the next four days, nearly 3000 Sikhs massacred in systematic riots planned and led by Congress activists and sympathizers. The then Congress government widely criticized for doing very little at the time. If not acting as a conspirator, especially since voting lists used to identify Sikh families. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi allegedly made a statement. “When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake” on the Sikh carnage. His Widow, Sonia Gandhi and current President of the Congress Party, officially apologized in 1998 for the events of November 1984. It alleged that the anti-Sikh violence conducted at the behest of the Congress party who actually instigated masses.
On November 1, 1984, a huge mob from the suburbs of Delhi descended on various localities where the Sikh mainly concentrated. They carried iron rods, knives, clubs, and combustible material, including kerosene. They had voters’ lists of houses and business establishments belonging to the Sikhs. The mobsters swarmed into Sikh homes. Sikh men, women, and children brutally killed. Their shops and houses ransacked and burned. The mobsters stopped uses and trains, in and out of Delhi, pulling out Sikh passengers to be lynched or doused.
With kerosene and burnt during the riots, the Hindu right-wing parties protected Sikhs. Khushwant Singh expressed his gratitude to the Hindus. When saying, “It was the Congress leaders who instigated mobs in 1984 and got more than 3000 people killed. I must give due credit to RSS and the BJP for showing courage and protecting helpless Sikhs during those days. BJP party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself intervened at a couple of places to help poor taxi drivers”. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) strongly condemned the riots.
On the night of October 31st and morning of November 1st, several Congress leaders allegedly held the meeting and mobilized support to launch a full-scale assault against Delhi’s Sikhs.
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