Odishatv Bureau

On her 38th death anniversary, we take a quick look at the tough and difficult decisions taken by  India’s first woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who earned the sobriquet Iron Lady of India. From the imposition of Emergency to ordering Operation Bluestar - which led to her assassination, Mrs Gandhi never shied away from speaking her mind and following it up with due action. Here are some of her momentous decisions. 

Declaration of Emergency

Forty years have passed since the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's imposition of an Internal Emergency in India. It was the most controversial decision taken by her. The Emergency imposed from 25th June 1975 - 21st March 1977 is considered the ‘darkest period’ of independent India as all civil rights were suspended and the freedom of speech and expression muzzled. The state of emergency dealt significant damage to the democratic values that the country had valued since independence. The government invoked Press Censorship alongside it, as it wanted to control and manipulate the media to suppress public opinion. 

Nationalisation of banks

On 20 July 1969, the Indian government nationalised 14 private sector banks. Without question, it remains the single most important economic choice made by any administration since 1947. Although she was criticised for her decision, she stood by it.

The 1971 Indo-Pak War

The 1971 Indo-Pak war, which was a result of India’s backing Bangladesh’s struggle for its independence from Pakistan, Indira Gandhi conducted herself with remarkable patience and restraint. About 93000 members of the Pakistani Armed Forces were taken as prisoners of war by the Indian Army. It only took 13 days for India to win the war and help Bangladesh declare itself a free nation.

The Green Revolution

The Green Revolution in India was one of the essential pieces of Indira’s revolutionary programme in the mid and late sixties. Indira Gandhi made the Green Revolution a top government goal, launching state subsidies, the provision of electricity, water, fertilisers, and farmer loans with the new hybrid seeds. Agricultural revenue was exempt from taxation.
As a result, India achieved food self-sufficiency, a heartfelt goal for Indira after American President Johnson's unreliable and condition-laden food aid.

Her initiatives and decisions impacted and continue to influence India’s polity even now. Mrs Gandhi’s assassination and Congress Party’s landslide victory thereafter continued her legacy and in part her reforms.