Indira Gandhi, born in Allahabad
, in the state of Uttar Pradesh
, was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru
, the first Prime Minister of India. Born in 1917, her real name was Indira Priyadarshini. A graduate of the Visva Bharati University
, she was also a student of the University of Oxford, England. In 1938 she joined the Indian National Congress party and became the third Prime Minister of India on January 24,1966.
Indira had a very unusual childhood. Her parents, aunts, relatives, family friends, all went in and out of prison, at the pleasure of the ruling British. Very often, Indira found herself in charge and having to run things from an early age.
It was defying her father, that Indira married Feroze Gandhi in 1942, and chose to lead her own life. She and Feroze had two sons – Rajiv in 1944, and Sanjay in 1946. Feroze's earnings were highly unsteady and he was by nature an easily distracted person, and so in 1946 Indira decided to move back with her boys to live with Nehru.
It was during the 1950's that Indira Gandhi slowly metamorphosed into a really political being. After the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966, Indira assumed power and went on to become one of the most popular, at the same time enigmatic, prime ministers India ever had. She remained the Prime Minister of India for the periods 1966-77 and 1980-84.
The black mark on her political career was the state of emergency she declared in 1975, which lasted till 1977. Though Indira had to taste defeat in the 1977 elections, she returned to power in 1980 with an overwhelming majority. Nationalization of banks, liberation of Bangladesh, and introduction of the 20 point program for the upliftment of the poor are some among her noteworthy achievements.
She was brutally assassinated by her own guards on October 31, 1984.