• Prof. Ketan Vyas

The first female prime minister of India



Introduction

'Woman of the Millennium' was announced by a BBC poll in 1999 for to Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and the only woman who served as the Prime Minister of India. Born in a political family on 19th November 1917, she was the second longest-serving Prime Minister of the country after her father. She was appointed the President of the Congress party in 1959 and also served as her father's assistant from 1947 till 1964. After Nehru died in 1964, she served as a Cabinet minister under Lal Bahadur Shastri's leadership but later became Prime Minister of the country in 1966 after Shastri's sudden death. From 1966 to 1977, she was able to retain the position but lost after an emergency was imposed by her in 1975 leading to national discontent and countrywide protests. She returned to power in 1980 and during this time she ordered the storming of the Sikh Holy Shrine Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar and was assassinated on October 31, 1984, by her two Sikh bodyguards. Violence erupted in several parts of the country after she died in which Sikhs were killed by angry protesters. She was known for her strong personality and also went to war with Pakistan supporting the Independence Movement in East Pakistan leading to the formation of Bangladesh.


Role in Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress (INC) is one of the oldest political parties in India. It was established in 1885 and is currently headed by Sonia Gandhi. The INC has been a major force in both Indian collective life and politics since independence, having led India to independence from British rule, suppressed the Quit India movement in 1942, fought for democratic rights for women and other marginalized groups and not given up power until it was defeated decisively in 2014 elections. From 1947 to 1977, it was led by Jawaharlal Nehru who became independent India's first Prime Minister; he based his policies on Fabian Socialism and Soviet-style Communism. After some unusual occurrences with law enforcement forces around their protests during the Emergency period of 1975-1977 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru), dissidents within the party formed a breakaway faction


Journey

Her journey revolves around many things indicating her spirit - Smt. Indira Gandhi was actively involved in the freedom struggle.

  • 1930 : She founded the ‘Bal Charkha Sangh’ and in 1930, the ‘Vanar Sena’ of children to help the Congress party during the Non-Cooperation Movement

  • 1942 : Got married to Feroze Gandhi on March 26, 1942

  • 1947 : Imprisoned in September 1942 and worked in riot-affected areas of Delhi in 1947 under Gandhi’s guidance

  • 1955 : Became a Member of, the Congress Working Committee and Central Election of the party

  • 1958 : Appointed as a Member of the Central Parliamentary Board of Congress.

  • 1956 : She was the Chairperson of, the National Integration Council of A.I.C.C. and President, of All India Youth Congress, 1956, and Women’s Dept. A.I.C.C.

  • 1959 : She became the President of, the Indian National Congress and served till 1960 and then again in January 1978.

  • 1964 -1966 : she had been Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

  • 1966 -1977 : she held the highest office as the Prime Minister of India, Concurrently, she was the Minister for Atomic Energy.

  • 1967 – 1969 : She also held the additional charge of the Ministry of External Affairs

  • 1970 – 1973 : headed the Ministry of Home Affairs

  • 1972 – 1977 : headed Minister for Space

  • 1980 : January 1980 she was Chairperson of, the Planning Commission. She again chaired the prime Minister’s Office from January 14, 1980…

Indira Gandhi, a woman of true spirit, ‘iron lady as renamed to gungi gudiya by Moraraji Desai’ and 'Woman of the Millennium by BBC poll – is a lady whose birth ceremony is on 19th November.

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