Indira Gandhi was known as many things throughout her life: the Iron Lady of India, the only female prime minister, the soul of the Congress during the 70s. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, and went on to create her own legacy, remaining one of the most remembered names in the course of Indian history. While these are the commonly known facts about Indira Ghandi, we unearthed some more interesting ones to help you understand both her personality, and her prowess as a renowned politician.
1. She served as a PA to the PM’s office
When her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, took office, she was only a young adult. However, Nehru chose Indira to serve as his first personal assistant, thanks to her bright character and wit. From there on, she would go on to learn statecraft from one of the finest hands ever.
2. Pre PM days
Before she took on the role of the Prime Minister, she served as the minister for information and broadcasting department. This occurred for a brief period during the Cabinet of LK Advani.
3. The Gandhi story
People always mistake Indira Gandhi for being related to the family of Mahatma Gandhi. Although the Nehru family was always closely related to Mahatama Gandhi’s family, Indira received her last name not from them, but from her husband Feroze Gandhi, who was unrelated to the famous Gandhi family.
4. Her feud with Richard Nixon
During her tenure, U.S president Richard Nixon called Indira Gandhi an ‘old witch’ after she decided to sign a deal with the Soviets. This was during an era of high tension and choosing sides between India and Pakistan. Nixon wanted Pakistan to be supported by the United States, so she chose their international enemies as her allies.
5. Presidential friends
Indira maintained friendly relations with the chairwoman of the United States, Lynda Johnson, who would visit her often and attended dinners hosted by her. Girl power brings us all together, am I right?
6. She burnt British toys
Watching her father and the rest of the nation struggle against the British imperialism made Indira develop a very strong character. From a young age, she had learnt to reject British goods, as she realized that accepting them just strengthens their economy. She is known to have burnt her own dolls because they were made in England.
7. She launched the first nuclear test
It is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Indira Gandhi was a visionary in many diverse fields. She was the first leader to take steps towards making India a global nuclear power, ultimately conducting the successful nuclear bomb test called Smiling Buddha, in Pokhran.
8. Her own party
While everyone knows Indira Gandhi as the face of INC, in 1978 she formed her own party by breaking away from INC. This was called ‘Congress (I)’, with the ‘I’ denoting Indira. They proved victorious in the 1980 Lok Sabha elections that followed, but fizzled out after her passing.
This leader served the second longest PM term in India, and was assassinated by her personal bodyguards in 1984 over a feud with the Sikh Community. Her ashes now rest at Raj Ghat in Delhi.
In many ways, Indira Gandhi was a person just like the rest of us. But due to her high level of fame, the small stories often get left behind. We’re here to fill in the blanks.