Indira Gandhi

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Gandhi, Indira

(ĭndē`rə gän`dē), 1917–84, Indian political leader; daughter of Jawaharlal NehruNehru, Jawaharlal
, 1889–1964, Indian statesman, b. Allahabad (now Priyagraj); son of Motilal Nehru. A politician and statesman of great skill, Nehru was enormously popular in India.
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. She served as an aide to her father, who was prime minister (1947–64), and as minister of information in the government of Shri Lal Bahadur ShastriShastri, Shri Lal Bahadur
, 1904–66, Indian political leader. He joined Mohandas Gandhi's noncooperation movement in 1921 and studied at the nationalist Kashi Vidyapeth school, where he was given the title Shastri [learned in the scriptures].
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 (1964–66). On Shastri's death in 1966, she succeeded as prime minister. Her first administration, marked by her increasing personal control of the Indian National Congress party, led to a party split. Her faction, New Congress, won overwhelming electoral victories in 1971 and 1972. She triumphed in foreign affairs with India's 1971 defeat of Pakistan, which resulted in the establishment of the state of Bangladesh. Found guilty in June, 1975, of illegal practices during the 1971 campaign, she refused to resign, declaring a state of emergency. Her administration arrested opponents and imposed press censorship. In November the Supreme Court overruled her conviction. In 1977 her faction in the Congress party lost the parliamentary elections; she lost both her seat and her position as prime minister. In 1980, she again became prime minister, this time as leader of the Congress (Indira) party, and held the office until assassinated by her security guards in 1984. Her son Rajiv GandhiGandhi, Rajiv
, 1944–91, prime minister of India (1984–89). Oldest son of Indira Gandhi, he flew for Indian Airlines until his brother died in 1981 and he was drafted into politics by his mother.
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 succeeded her as prime minister.


See biographies by K. Bhatia (1974) and D. Moraes (1980); T. Ali, Nehru and the Gandhis, (1985); I. Gandhi, Letters to an American Friend, 1950–1984 (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gandhi, Indira


Born Nov. 19, 1917, in Allahabad, India. Indian political and government figure; daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Gandhi received her education in Swiss, English, and Indian schools. She joined the Indian National Congress Party in 1938. In 1942 she married one of the leading members of the Congress Party, the publisher F. Gandhi. She was active in the struggle against English colonial hegemony and was subjected to repression by the colonial authorities. After India won its independence in 1947, she held an important position in the Congress Party, which had become the ruling party. In 1955 she became a member of the Working Committee and the Central Electoral Board of the Congress Party, president of its women’s organization, and a member of the Central Parliamentary Council of the party’s All-India Committee. In 1959 and 1960 she was president of the Congress Party. In 1964 she joined the government of L. B. Shastri as minister for information and broadcasting, and in July of the same year she became a member of the National Defense Council.

On Jan. 19, 1966, after Shastri’s death, she was elected to lead the parliamentary wing of the Congress Party, and in accordance with tradition, as the leader of that wing she became prime minister. In 1967, in addition to being prime minister, she held the posts of minister of atomic energy, chairman of the planning commission, and minister of foreign affairs. In her pronouncements as head of state Gandhi has repeatedly emphasized the necessity of continuing the basic principles of Nehru’s policies: India’s nonparticipation in military blocs, support of peace and international cooperation, continued development and strengthening of friendly Soviet-Indian relations, and fulfillment of the planned development of the national economy. In 1969 and 1970, despite the opposition of reactionary forces, she nationalized the 14 largest banks. She has spoken out against US aggression in Vietnam and Israeli aggression against the Arab countries. In the 1971 elections she was again made prime minister; she also holds the posts of minister of internal affairs, minister of atomic energy and electronics, and minister of Space Research (1974).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.