Indira Gandhi

           Indira Gandhi is a hero to many people. While she shares a last name with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in reality, she is not related to him. Indira contributed to society in various ways, from her part in the Pakistan war, to her raid on a Sikh Temple. As the third Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was only the second woman in the world to hold the position of prime minister. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru ,was the first Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi was a passive,positive legal leader. Her charismatic approach to politics took a nation of over 500 million people by surprise.

            Indira was born November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, India. She grew up in a influential family who was deeply involved in politics. After finishing high school in 1934, Indira planned on attending Oxford University but after sitting for the entrance exam and failing, she joined Badminton school in Bristol, Later she enrolled at Somerville College in Oxford. While in England, Indira dated Feroze Gandhi, who was studying economics and from her hometown of Allahabad. In 1942. after returning to India, they married. Before becoming Prime Minister, she unofficially served as her father's assistant and had a seat in Congress. On the sudden death of the then Prime Minister of India, January 1966, Gandhi became leader of the Congress Party which meant the position of prime minister. She did have the added benefit of the Congress party President's, K. Kamaraj, support. From 1966-1971 Indira was the Prime Minister of India. In 1971, she won a oddly high number of votes in the Prime Minister election. Indira served as India's Prime Minister for three consecutive terms (1966–77) In 1975 after she defeated the Socialist Party, her opponents charged that she had violated the election laws. In June 1975 the High Court of Allahabad ruled against her, which meant that she would be deprived of her seat in Parliament and would have to stay out of politics for six years. It is speculated among many Indians that Indira paid off a Judge to give her a lesser sentence then the one she received. In response to the court ruling, she declared a state of emergency throughout India, imprisoned her political opponents, and assumed emergency powers, passing many laws limiting personal freedoms. During this period she implemented several unpopular policies, including large-scale sterilization as a form of birth control. Indira foresaw the India would face a huge population problem.

         It is safe to say Indira was right because today India has the fastest growing population in the world. When long-postponed national elections were held in 1977, Gandhi and her party were soundly defeated. Gandhi strongly supported East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in its secessionist conflict with Pakistan. India's army took part in the war with Pakistan and Bangladesh was born. This all happened because Indira supported and helped the cause for Bangladesh to become a country.

         During the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was faced with threats to the political integrity of India. Several states sought a larger measure of independence from the central government, and Sikh extremists in Punjab state used violence to assert their demands for an autonomous state. In response, Gandhi ordered an army attack in June 1984 on the Harimandir (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, the Sikhs' holiest shrine, which led to the deaths of more than 450 Sikhs. Five months later Gandhi was killed in her garden by 30 bullets fired by two of her own Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for the attack on the Golden Temple.

           Indira was a great leader. Although she was convicted of corruption that does not detract from the positive and long lasting programs that she instituted for the country. To this day she is remembered in Indian history as the first and greatest female prime Minister.