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Исследовательская работа: 
The great female leaders who changed the course of history

6.Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was born 19 November 1917 in Allahabad, India. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister and was the first and, to date, the only female Prime Minister of India.


At forty-eight she became a prime minister
And was trusted by millions of people.
She, who received an ideal education,
And got blessing in prison
She proclaimed herself the mother of India
And in the war was absolutely merciless.

(“Indira Gandhi’ Oksana Chingaeva) [Translated by Akinin Mikhail]

Since the Nehru family was the centre of national political activity, Indira Gandhi was exposed to politics from a young age. A leader like Mahatma Gandhi was among the frequent visitors to the Nehru house in Allahabad.

After his return to the country, Indira showed keen interest in the national movement. In 1938 she also became a member of the Indian National Congress and became a central figure. She was repeatedly put under arrests by the British authorities.

In January 1966 Indira Gandhi became the prime minister of India and she decided to accelerate the modernization of the country relying on Soviet aid.


The new course caused a split in the Indian National Congress in 1969. But Gandhi retained the majority in the parliament as her reforms were supported by the communist party. USSR was the main arms supplier during the Gandhi`s reign by offering cheap credit and transactions in rupees rather than in dollars.

Though the USSR was not happy with the 1974 nuclear test conducted by India and did not support further action because of the ensuing cold war with the United States. Under Indira by early 1980s the USSR became the largest trading partner of India.

Gandhi nationalized key industries and accelerated industrial construction in 1969-1972. India won the Indo Pakistani conflict under her leadership in 1971 which resulted in the creation ofBangladesh.

The unrest of the peasants, the poor, the students and religious clashes increased in middle 1970s. The opposition demanded to stop Gandhi`s fundamental changes. The government was accused of corruption. In response to it Gandhi imposed a state of emergency in the country in 1974. The leaders of the opposition were arrested. Backsliding on democracy only exacerbated the problem.

Indira Gandhi, who was the follower of democratic traditions of her father, abolished the state of emergency. The Indian National Congress lost the elections then.

Not everyone knew that on June 12, 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was found guilty of electoral corruption by the Allahabad High Court.

She was banned from contesting elections for six years. But Indira had ignored the court's order. Meanwhile, all the anti-Indira people united and an atmosphere of protest was created against her but she was released due to "insufficient validity of accusations presented to her."

In 1978 she was continuing her political activity. In January 1980 Gandhi won the election. The main problem she had to deal with during her second reign (1980-1984) was the separatism of the Sikh in the state of Punjab. The Sikh took an active part in the life of the Indian society.

But the conflict between them and the Hindus got even stronger in 1980s. The Sikh extremists captured the shrine of the Golden Temple. Gandhi found nothing better than to capture the temple by storm.

In June 1984 after several useless negotiations, Indira Gandhi ordered the army to enter the Golden Temple in order to remove the separatists from the complex. The army used heavy artillery, including tanks, in the action code-named Operation Blue Star.

Индира Ганди

The operation damaged the parts of the Temple complex, including the Akal Takht shrine and the Sikh library. A great number of Sikh fighters and innocent pilgrims died then. Gandhi was accused of using the attack for political principles.

It is interesting to ruminate on why India's only female Prime Minister still occupies so much of the mind-space of the Indian people. It is equally plausible to argue that, a leader who imposed the dreaded Emergency in 1975-77, should be remembered only for this direct assault on Indian democracy.

But, Indira Gandhi, returned triumphantly to power in 1980, and even today, is remembered more for her remarkable political acumen than for the - brief but undeniable - authoritarian streak in her career.

One of the most notable achievements of her stint as a prime minister was the nationalization of the fourteen largest banks in India along with four premium oil companies in 1969. She took constructive steps towards food shortage of the country and led the country into nuclear age with its first underground detonation in 1974.

Indira Gandhi has remained in the memory and hearts of people,
Her rule was not ideal, but it was her
That managed to bring India to the world stage.
She knew the price that she would pay
For the happiness of her people.

(“Indira Gandhi’ Oksana Chingaeva) [Translated by Akinin Mikhail]

Indira Gandhi has been voted the greatest woman of the past 1,000 years in a poll by BBC News Online in 1999. India's first woman prime minister had been running equally with Queen Elizabeth I in the first half of November but was pushed ahead to top the poll by a large majority.
[BBC NEWS Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 08:09 GMT]

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