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Indira Gandhi was in service as India‘s third Prime Minister and is still the country’s only female leader. Many people believe she is the most impactful Prime Minister India has ever had. In 1966, following the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri while in office, Gandhi, a member of the Indian National Congress, was chosen as the country’s first prime minister.
See the fact file below for more information on Indira Gandhi, or you can download our 28-page Indira Gandhi worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- After her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, and India’s first prime minister, Indira Gandhi served as the country’s leader for the second-longest period. She held office twice, first from 1966 to 1977 and secondly from 1980 until her assassination by her security in 1984.
- On November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, Indira Nehru was born into a Kashmiri Pandit family. Jawaharlal Nehru’s father was a crucial player in the fight to free India from British domination and later served as the country’s first prime minister.
- She grew up with her mother, Kamala Nehru, in the Anand Bhavan, a sizable family estate in Allahabad, as the only child (her younger brother passed away when he was still a youngster). She experienced a lonely and sad upbringing.
- Her mother was regularly bedridden with illness and subsequently died young of tuberculosis, while her father was frequently absent, overseeing political activities or incarcerated. She and her father only sometimes spoke, usually through letters.
- Tutors taught Indira most of her lessons at home, and she only went to school sometimes until she graduated in 1934. She attended the Modern School in Delhi, the Christian convent schools St. Cecilia’s and St. Mary’s in Allahabad, the International School of Geneva, the Ecole Nouvelle in Bex, and the University of Mumbai-affiliated Pupils’ School in Poona and Bombay.
- She relocated with her mother Kamala to the Ramakrishna Mission’s Belur Math headquarters, where Swami Ranganathananda was her guardian. Indira continued her education at the Santiniketan Vishwa Bharati, which was renamed Visva-Bharati University in 1951.
- Rabindranath Tagore gave her the Sanskrit name Priyadarshini, which means “seeing at everything with love,” during their interview, and she later adopted the name, Indira Priyadarshini Nehru.
- While living in Britain, Indira regularly ran with Feroze Gandhi, her future husband, who was a London School of Economics student and not related to Mahatma Gandhi. Even though Feroze came from a Gujarati Zoroastrian Parsi family, their marriage took place in Allahabad by Adi Dharm customs. Sanjay Gandhi (born in 1944) and Rajiv Gandhi (born in 1946) were the couple’s two sons.
- Indira Gandhi, now Mrs. Indira Gandhi, following her marriage, assisted her father informally serve in the 1950s as India’s first prime minister. Gandhi presided over Congress during the end of the 1950s. She played a crucial role in the 1959 dismissal of the Kerala State Government, governed by Communists. Being the country’s first-ever elected Communist government, that one made history.
- She was appointed a Rajya Sabha (upper house) member following her father’s passing in 1964, and she also served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting in Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s cabinet. After Shastri’s passing in January 1966, she was chosen as the leader of the Congress legislative party instead of Morarji Desai.
- K. Kamaraj, a Congress party veteran was considered instrumental in Gandhi’s victory. Because Gandhi was a woman, India’s political leader saw her as weak. Some even hoped to use her as a puppet once elected. So, K. Kamaraj orchestrated her selection as prime minister.
First period as Prime Minister between 1966 and 1977
- In her first eleven years as Prime Minister, Gandhi went from being viewed as the Congress party leaders’ puppet to an influential leader with the steel determination to split the party over her policy stances or to go to war with Pakistan to aid Bangladesh in the 1971 independence war.
- She had such sway over Indian politics by the end of 1977 that Congress party leader Desai was very satisfied. The saying “India is Indira and Indira is India” was created by K. Barooah. Morarji Desai served as the deputy prime minister and finance minister for Gandhi’s coalition administration.
- She received harsh criticism from the media and the opposition at the start of her first tenure as prime minister for being a “Goongi goodbye,” which is Hindi for “stupid doll” or “puppet,” of the Congress coalition bosses who had manipulated her election and then attempted to restrain her.
- The 1967 national elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies served as Gandhi’s first electoral test. Following these elections, the Congress Party received a minor majority in the Lok Sabha due to widespread discontent with the growing costs of essential goods, unemployment, economic stagnation, and a food crisis.
- Gandhi was chosen to represent Raebareli in the Lok Sabha. After deciding to weaken the rupee, which hurt Indian consumers and businesses, she had a rough start.
- Political disagreements prevented the importing of wheat from the United States.
- Additionally, for the first time, the party lost control or its majority in several states across the nation. Gandhi progressively began to adopt socialist ideals after the 1967 elections.
- She had disagreements with senior Congress party leaders in 1969 over several topics. Despite losing the majority it had in the legislature, the Gandhi faction, known as Congress, was able to hold onto government power with the help of regional parties like the DMK.
- Before the 1971 elections, the Congress under Gandhi also proposed eliminating the Privy Purse granted to former princely state rulers and nationalizing India’s fourteen central banks in 1969.
- Gandhi’s electoral campaign in 1971 had as its overarching theme “Remove Poverty,” or Garibi Hatao. The Garibi Hatao slogan and the associated anti-poverty measures were created to offer Gandhi independent national support centered on the rural and urban poor.
- The motto was created in reaction to the combined opposition alliance’s use of the two-word manifesto “Indira Hatao” (Remove Indira).
- Bypassing the dominating rural castes in state and local governments and the urban commercial class would be made possible for her by doing this. On their end, the formerly voiceless poor would originally acquire political weight and worth.
- Despite winning the war against Pakistan, the Congress administration had many issues.
- Some of these were brought on by high inflation, which was brought on by military costs, drought in some regions of the nation, and—more significantly—the 1973 oil crisis.
- In 1973–1975, once the Gandhi wave had subsided, Bihar and Gujarat were her biggest opposition. Veteran activist Jayaprakash Narayan led the protest movement in Bihar after retirement.
Verdict on electoral malpractice
- The Allahabad High Court invalidated Indira Gandhi’s election to the Lok Sabha in 1971 on June 12, 1975, citing electoral fraud. Raj Narain, who lost to her in the Raebareli constituency in the 1977 parliamentary election, accused her of using both significant and minor instances of public funds for campaigning in an election petition led in 1971.
- Ashoke Kumar Sen, a cabinet colleague of Gandhi’s, had been requested to represent her in court. She testified during the trial to support her defense.
- After nearly four years, the court found her guilty of deceptive election techniques, excessive campaign spending, and abusing the power of public office for political gain.
- However, the judge dismissed the more severe allegations of bribery against her in the case.
- The court mandated that she forfeit her parliamentary seat and be barred for six years from standing for any office. She was effectively ousted from office since the Constitution stipulates that the Prime Minister must be a participant in one of the two houses of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. Gandhi, though, turned down calls for resignation.
- She expressed that she would lead an appeal with the Supreme Court and claimed that the conviction did not change her mind.
State of Emergency
- Gandhi took action to regain control by directing the arrest of the majority of the opposition taking part in the riots. The chaos and lawlessness that followed the Allahabad High Court verdict led her cabinet and administration to advise President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to impose a state of emergency.
- As a result, on June 25, 1975, Ahmed proclaimed a State of Emergency resulting from internal disturbance by the terms of Article 352 stated in the Constitution.
Rule by decree
- Within a few months, the two opposition-party-ruled states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu came under the President’s authority, bringing the entire nation directly under Central rule or under governments led by the ruling Congress party.
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting heavily censored all publications, and the police were given the authority to enforce curfews and arrest civilians for an unlimited period.
- Finally, all opposition-controlled state governments were dismissed by the constitutional clause that permits the dismissal of a state government on the proposal of the state’s governor, delaying the upcoming legislative assembly elections indefinitely.
In opposition and return to power
- Gandhi lost her seat in the election. Therefore, the defeated Congress party chose Yashwantrao Chavan to lead them in Parliament. Soon after, Gandhi launched her own Congress faction, causing the Congress party to divide again.
- She was selected to the Lok Sabha in November 1978 after winning a by-election in the Chikmagalur Constituency, defeating the Janata Party’s plan to have Rajkumar, a popular Kannada matinee idol, run against her.
- Rajkumar declined to run, citing his desire to stay politically neutral.
- However, the home minister of the Janata administration, Choudhary Charan Singh, issued a warrant for her and Sanjay Gandhi’s detention on several accusations, none of which would be simple to establish in an Indian court. Gandhi was automatically suspended from Parliament as a result of the arrest.
- She was accused of “having plotted or thought about killing all opposition leaders in jail during the Emergency,” among other things.
- Before the 1980 elections, Gandhi spoke with Syed Abdullah Bukhari, the then-Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, and they came to an accord based on a 10-point platform to win the support of the Muslim electorate.
- With a resounding victory in the elections held in January, Congress took back control.
- In the backyard of the prime minister’s residence at 1 Safdarjung Road in New Delhi on October 31, 1984, two of Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, shot her with their service firearms, ostensibly as retaliation for Operation Blue Star.
- She was passing a wicket gate that the two men were manning when she was shot.
- The British documentarian Peter Ustinov, who was making a documentary for Irish television, was going to interview her. Using his sidearm to shoot her three times, Satwant fired 30 shots.
- The men dismounted and gave over their weapons. Other guards then led them into a room that was blocked off, where Beant was shot to death. Later, Kehar Singh was detained for the conspiracy of the attack.
- Gandhi’s assassination drastically altered the political scene. Within hours of his mother’s assassination, Rajiv took over as prime minister. Anti-Sikh riots that broke out during this time claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Sikhs in New Delhi and an estimated 8,000 people throughout India.
- The anti-Sikh slaughter was thought to have been orchestrated by many Congress leaders.
- It appears today, when we think about Indira Gandhi, that she was one of the select few responsible for creating modern India. As soon as she assumed power, she made rash populist decisions. Those were the days of communist utopias and aspirations.
- Numerous such actions were classified as socio-economic reforms, including nationalizing banks and eliminating the privy purse of royals and maharajas. Poverty could not be abolished, but the people showed up in great numbers at polling places and supported her in 1971 with the slogan, “They say remove Indira, I say eradicate poverty.”
- She was also very attentive to the borders of India. She altered the subcontinent’s political landscape by skillfully incorporating Sikkim into India.
- That was a rather bold action. She was fully committed despite the likelihood of stiff opposition from China and the worry that minor neighboring countries would be dubious.
- She was able to partition Pakistan into two parts in 1971 due to this talent. Consider what would have happened if Pakistan had not been so severely split.
- The rest of the division would have been intense in Kashmir, Bengal, and the Northeast. She had achieved so much but never let her feet leave the ground.
Indira Gandhi Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Indira Gandhi across 28 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching kids about Indira Gandhi, who was in service as India’s third Prime Minister and is still the country’s only female leader.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- Indira Gandhi Facts
- Be Wise
- Characteristics of Indira
- I Am Indira
- Interview with Indira
- My Society
- Reading A Passage
- Indira of Your Generation
- Citizen of My Country
- Are You A Leader?
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Link will appear as Indira Gandhi Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 30, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.