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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.