How did Indira Gandhi change India?

The only woman to become Prime Minister of India was killed by her own bodyguards.

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917. Her family fought for India’s independence from Britain. Indira’s father was Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of an independent India.

Индира Ганди с родителями. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi with her parents. Source: Pinterest

The acquaintance with Mahatma Gandhi greatly influenced in India’s political views. An 8-year-old girl, she organized a children’s union in the city for the development of home weaving. Parents always took the child to demonstrations and marches.

Индира Ганди и Махатма Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi. Source: Pinterest

In 1934, Indira entered the People’s University, but two years after her mother’s death, she dropped out and went to Europe. There she enrolled at Somerwell College, Oxford, where she studied management, history and anthropology.

Индира Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi. Source: Pinterest

With the outbreak of World War II, Gandhi returned to her homeland. The path was through South Africa, where she gave her first public political speech.

Индира Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Индира Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi. Source: Pinterest

At this time, Indira married Feroz Gandhi, despite the fact that they were from different castes and practised different religions. Their marriage was considered sacrilege. The couple were soon arrested because their activities in the struggle for the independence of the country were considered illegal.

Свадьба Индиры Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi’s wedding. Source: Pinterest

Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964. New Premier Lal Bahadur Shastri offered Indira a position in government. She soon became Minister of Information and Broadcasting. After Shastri’s death in 1966, Gandhi took his place.

Индира Ганди и Косыгин. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi and Kosygin. Source: Pinterest

During Gandhi’s rule, life expectancy in India increased from 32 to 55 years, and the proportion of the population living below the poverty line fell from 60% to 40%.

Индира Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi. Source: Pinterest

Not all reforms were successful. For example, forced sterilization to curb population growth has provoked a wave of criticism. Many political freedoms were restricted and opposition newspapers were closed. This led to Gandhi losing parliamentary elections in 1977 and her family being arrested and charged with corruption.

After forming a new party in 1978, Gandhi was re-elected to Parliament and two years later became Prime Minister. This time, all its efforts were aimed at improving India’s position on the world stage.

Индира Ганди и Елизавета II. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi and Elizabeth II. Source: Pinterest

Индира Ганди и Джон Кеннеди. Источник: Pinterest
Indira Gandhi and John F. Kennedy. Source: Pinterest

Around this time, the conflict with the Sikhs escalated. They insisted on independence, which the Prime Minister opposed. In the early 1980s, Sikhs occupied the main Hindu shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On a particularly revered day for the Sikhs, June 5, 1984, Gandhi authorized the assault of the Golden Temple.

Похороны Индиры Ганди. Источник: Pinterest
Funeral of Indira Gandhi. Source: Pinterest

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