The Iron Lady of India, the former Prime Minister from 1966-77 and 1980-84 whose 101st birth anniversary is today, led a controversial life, more eventful and dramatic than any public personality of her time.
The longest serving Prime Minister of India “Indira Gandhi” gave India some of the defining moments in its post-independence history. Be it the Green Revolution, nationalisation of banks, creation of Bangladesh, and the first nuclear test at Pokhran, her contribution to the nation is undeniable, despite the dark cloud of Emergency in 1975 that diminished her stature as one of the tallest leaders in the post-World War II era.
Today on Indira Gandhi’s 101st birth anniversary, have a look at her 4 decisions that changed India forever
Nationalization of banks (1969)
On July 19, 1969, the Indira Gandhi-led government came up with an ordinance to nationalise 14 privately owned banks of the country. The ownership of these banks, which was about 70 percent of the deposits of the country, was transferred to the government. This was done to promote economic equality. The ordinance was called Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance, which was soon followed by an act of the same name.
Bangladesh War (1971)
The restrictive measures unleashed on the citizens of East Pakistan by Pakistan’s military rules saw around 10 million refugee flow into India in 1971, leading to a war with Pakistan resulting in the formation of Bangladesh. The Indian Army became the first army to win a battle after World War II.
The Emergency (1975-77)
Declaration of national emergency in 1975 remains one of the darkest decisions in India’s post-independence history. Civil liberties were curbed, elections were suspended, Indira’s political opponents were sent to jail and press freedom was curtailed between June 25, 1975 and March 21, 1977.
In response to a PIL filed by Raj Narain, the Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of employing a government servant in her election campaign. This act was considered as an election fraud and the court banned her from running an election for six years and ordered to remove her to be removed from her seat in the Parliament. Mrs. Gandhi refused to step down and thus people started to protests across the country demanding her to resign. In response, she ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and declared Emergency on June 25, 1975. The day is referred as ‘Black Day’ in Indian democracy. The period lasted for nineteen months.
Operation Bluestar (1984)
Date: June 5, 1984
Venue: The Golden Temple, Amritsar
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his troops demanded India’s partition and make a separate country for Punjabis ‘Khalistan’. The troop chose Golden Temple to hide. This led to the birth of ‘Operation Bluestar’ by the Indian Army. Commandos donning jet-black dungarees entered the temple via road between the stairs and the Guru Ramdas Lunger building and killed Bhindranwale and his troops, along with few civilians. Indira Gandhi denied giving any such orders but the operation unleashed a cycle of revenge. As a result, on October 31, 1984, two of her personal security guards shot her dead. The assassination was followed by attacks on Sikhs in several parts of the country.