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Indira Gandhi 101st birth anniversary: From nationalising banks to liberating Bangladesh, Iron' Lady's key decisions revisited

Today is the 101st birth anniversary of India's former and only woman prime minister, Indira Gandhi. Indira, who was known as the Iron Lady of India is remembered for the tough decisions she took during her tenure as the prime minister of India and how she surprised her Opposition by coming back to power for a fourth term in 1980.

File image of Indira Gandhi. Reuters

File image of Indira Gandhi. Reuters

Here are some of the key decisions taken by Indira Gandhi which mark the highlights of her political career:

Nationalisation of banks

On 19 July 1969, by means of an Ordinance, the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government nationalised 14 commercial banks of the country. According to reports, the 14 banks controlled 70 percent of the country’s deposits, which then directly came under the control of the central government.

Formation of Bangladesh

As East Pakistan's military measure saw around 10 million refugees flow into India in 1971. Following which a war ensued between India and Pakistan which resulted in the formation of Bangladesh. Indira's tough stand during the war and subsequent decision to form Bangladesh were spearheaded by Indira.

Pokhran nuclear test

Gandhi conducted India's first nuclear test, Pokhran-I in 1974. The first test, code-named 'Smiling Buddha', was called a “peaceful nuclear explosion” to pacify the western powers and to avoid the threat of attracting sanctions from them.

Period of Emergency

The Allahabad High Court, in response to a PIL, found Indira guilty of employing a government servant for her election campaign. This act was considered as an election fraud and the court banned her from contesting an election for six years and also ordered to scrap her Parliament seat. However, Gandhi refused to step down and protests against her started to begin with people demanding her resignation. But, instead of letting go of her position, Indira ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and declared state Emergency on 25 June 1975 which lasted for nineteen months. The day is still considered to be a 'black day' in the Indian democracy.

Operation Bluestar 

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his troops demanded India’s partition and the formation of a separate country called ‘Khalistan’. The Khalistani-supporters hid themselves inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This led to the birth of ‘Operation Bluestar’ by the Indian Army as on 5 June 1984, commandos entered the holy and killed Bhindranwale and his troops. A few civilians were also killed in the encounter. In an act of revenge, on 31 October 1984, two of Indira's Sikh bodyguards shot her dead. Her assassination led to attacks on Sikhs in several parts of the country.


Updated Date: Nov 19, 2018 15:00 PM

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