Indira Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary: Remembering the Life of India's Only Woman Prime Minister
File photo of Indira Gandhi.
Popularly known as the ‘Iron lady of India’, Indira Gandhi was the first and so far the only woman to hold the office of Prime Minister in India.
Indira Gandhi was born on November 19 in 1917 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Growing up, Indira stayed at her family residence Anand Bhawan in Allahabad. Her mother frequently fell ill and remained bedridden often and her father Nehru was involved with the independence struggle.
When she was 12 years old, she formed and led Vanar Sena, a group of children that eventually had some 60,000 members. They made flags, conveyed messages and notices for demonstration. This was more organised participation in the freedom movement by Indira who as a 5-year-old girl burnt her made-in-England doll in a pyre of foreign goods as a form of protest against the British rule.
When Indira decided to marry Feroze Gandhi despite the disapproval of her family, it became clear that she was strong-headed and made her own decisions. The two belonged to different communities as Feroze was a Parsi.
Indira and Feroze had two children — Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.
She was closely associated with her father during his tenure as the country’s Prime Minister. After Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri helmed the PM office but after his untimely death, Indira Gandhi was made the Prime Minister on January 24, 1966. To this day, Indira remains the only woman to have led the country as its Prime Minister.
She backed East Pakistan during the Bangladesh liberation war and played a pivotal role in the formation of Bangladesh in 1971 from Pakistan. Under Indira, the Indian military carried out Operation Blue Star in June 1984 to take back the Golden Temple from the control of the Sikh extremists, killing hundreds of Sikhs.
Gandhi was assassinated on October 31 in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards.