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Indra Gandhi Phase in India

Indra Gandhi Phase in India


  • Indira Gandhi , in full Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, (born November 19, 1917, Allahabad, India —died October 31, 1984, New Delhi ), Indian politician who was the first female prime minister of India, serving for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term from 1980 until she was assassinated in 1984.
  • Born on November 19, 1917 in an illustrious family, Smt. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. (Indra Gandhi Phase in India )
  • Smt. Gandhi became a Member, Congress Working Committee and Central Election of the party in 1955.
  • In 1958 she was appointed as a Member for Central Parliamentary Board of Congress.
  • She was the Chairperson, National Integration Council of A.I.C.C. and President, All India Youth Congress, 1956 and Women’s Dept. A.I.C.C. She became the President, Indian National Congress in 1959 and served till 1960 and then again from January 1978.

Indira Gandhi As PM Of India (1966-1970)

  • On Shastri’s sudden death in January 1966, Gandhi was named leader of the Congress Party—and thus also became prime minister—in a compromise between the party’s right and left wings.
  • Her leadership, however, came under continual challenge from the right wing of the party, led by former minister of finance Morarji Desai.
  • She won a seat in the 1967 elections to the Lok Sabha (lower chamber of the Indian parliament), but the Congress Party managed to win only a slim majority of seats, and Gandhi had to accept Desai as deputy prime minister.  (Indra Gandhi Phase in India )
  • Gandhi strongly supported East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in its secessionist conflict with Pakistan in late 1971, and India’s armed forces achieved a swift and decisive victory over Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. She became the first government leader to recognize the new country.

Bank Nationalisation  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • With effect from midnight of 19th July, 1969, the Government of India issued an ordinance (‘Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance, 1969’) and nationalised the 14 largest commercial banks.
  • Veteran Congress Leader and the then Finance Minister and Deputy PM. Morarji Desai was against this decision but Indira Gandhi took these decision which has resulted into the fact that the bank at that time tried to reach out at every nooks and corners of our country, Earlier only big business houses and urban crowd used to have access to the banks.
  • The move proved to be fruitful as it improved the geographical coverage of banks with the number of branches rising from 8200 to 62000.

Language policy  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • Under the 1950 Constitution of India, Hindi was to have become the official national language by 1965. This was unacceptable to many non-Hindi speaking states, which wanted the continued use of English in government.
  • In 1967, Gandhi introduced a constitutional amendment that guaranteed the de facto use of both Hindi and English as official languages. This established the official government policy of bilingualism in India and satisfied the non-Hindi speaking Indian states.
  • Gandhi thus put herself forward as a leader with a pan-Indian vision.
  • Nevertheless, critics alleged that her stance was actually meant to weaken the position of rival Congress leaders from the northern states such as Uttar Pradesh, where there had been strong, sometimes violent, pro-Hindi agitations.
  • Gandhi came out of the language conflicts with the strong support of the south Indian populace.

India’s nuclear programme  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • Gandhi contributed to, and carried out further, the vision of Jawaharlal Nehru, former premier of India, to develop its nuclear program.
  • Gandhi authorised the development of nuclear weapons in 1967, in response to Test No. 6 by the People’s Republic of China. Gandhi saw this test as Chinese nuclear intimidation and promoted Nehru’s views to establish India’s stability and security interests independent from those of the nuclear superpowers.
  • The programme became fully mature in 1974, when Dr. Raja Ramanna reported to Gandhi that India had the ability to test its first nuclear weapon.
  • Gandhi gave verbal authorisation for this test, and preparations were made in the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range.  (Indra Gandhi Phase in India )
  • In 1974, India successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, unofficially code named “Smiling Buddha”, near the desert village of Pokhran in Rajasthan.
  • As the world was quiet about this test, a vehement protest came from Pakistan as its prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, described the test as “Indian hegemony” to intimidate Pakistan.
  • Gandhi directed a letter to Bhutto, and later to the world, claiming the test was for peaceful purposes and part of India’s commitment to develop its programme for industrial and scientific use

Third term (1971–1977)  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • Garibi Hatao (Eradicate Poverty) was the theme for Gandhi’s 1971 political bid. The slogan was developed in response to the combined opposition alliance’s use of the two word manifesto—”Indira Hatao” (Remove Indira).
  • The Garibi Hatao slogan and the proposed anti-poverty programs that came with it were designed to give Gandhi independent national support, based on the rural and urban poor. This would allow her to bypass the dominant rural castes both in and of state and local governments as well as the urban commercial class.
  • Gandhi’s biggest achievement following the 1971 election came in December 1971 with India’s decisive victory over Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War that occurred in the last two weeks of the Bangladesh Liberation War, which led to the formation of independent Bangladesh.
  • She was said to be hailed as Goddess Durga by opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the time.
  • In the elections held for State assemblies across India in March 1972, the Congress (R) swept to power in most states riding on the post-war “Indira wave”

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

    • The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was the first war between the countries that did not involve fighting over the Kashmir region. At this time, the Dominion of Pakistan was divided into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (initially East Bengal). These two regions were separated by the larger nation of India.
  • Cause
  • East Pakistan felt exploited by West Pakistan, which held the majority of political power. In March of 1971, an East Pakistan political party won the election, and West Pakistan chose not to recognize the results. This decision led to political unrest in East Pakistan, and West Pakistan responded with military force. The Bangladesh Liberation War began with East Pakistan declaring independence as Bangladesh.
  • Due to the violence in Bangladesh, many of its residents sought refuge in India. The Prime Minister decided to intervene in the civil war, supporting an independent Bengali state. Some say this decision was prompted by the past relations between India and Pakistan, others say it was to reduce the number of refugees. India began supporting rebel troops in Bangladesh, in response, Pakistan attacked an Indian military base in December of 1971. This attack was the official start of the war.
  • After two weeks of fighting and losing West Pakistan territory, the Pakistani troops in Bangladesh surrendered. This surrender effectively established the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The war resulted in the highest number of casualties of any Indo-Pakistani conflict.

Shimla Agreement(1972)  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • The Simla Agreement signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan on 2nd July 1972 was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of PoWs). It was a comprehensive blue print for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan. Under the Simla Agreement both countries undertook to abjure conflict and confrontation which had marred relations in the past, and to work towards the establishment of durable peace, friendship and cooperation.
  • The Simla Agreement contains a set of guiding principles, mutually agreed to by India and Pakistan, which both sides would adhere to while managing relations with each other. These emphasize:
  • Respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Respect for each others unity, political independence.
  • Sovereign equality; and abjuring hostile propaganda.

The state of Emergency in India   [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • On June 12, 1975, the Allahabad High Court declared 1971 elections void on the grounds of electoral malpractice. In 1971, her opponent Raj Narain alleged several major as well as minor instances of the use of government resources for campaigning. She asked her colleague Ashok Kumar Sen to defend her in the court and also provided evidence herself in the court. However, 4 years later, in 1975, the High Court of Allahabad found her guilty of dishonest election practices, excessive election expenditure, and of using government machinery and officials for party purposes.
  • The court ordered her to strip off her parliamentary seat and banned her from running the office for the next six years. However, Indira Gandhi refused to resign and announced to move to the Supreme Court. As soon as the news of Allahabad’s HC verdict spread, thousands of supporters demonstrated outside Indira’s house and pledged their loyalty.   (Indra Gandhi Phase in India )
  • On June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed a 21-month long emergency across India. The proclamation was signed a day before by the then President of India  Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of the prevailing internal disturbance. The emergency was withdrawn on March 21, 1977. The emergency allowed the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to rule by decree. The elections, freedom of the press and constitutional rights were suspended.
  • During the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi entered into Indian politics. It is alleged that during Sanjay Gandhi had total control over Indira Gandhi and the government was run by Prime Minister’s House rather than the Prime Minister’s Office.

Indira Gandhi’s Contribution As PM   [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • Indira Gandhi nationalized the coal, steel, copper, refining, cotton textiles, and insurance industries. Most of these nationalizations were made to protect employment and the interest of the organised labour,
  • Indira Gandhi nationalised oil companies in 1973. After nationalisation the oil majors such as the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) and the Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) had to keep a minimum stock level of oil, to be supplied to the military when needed
  • In 1972, Indira Gandhi granted statehood to Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura, while the North-East Frontier Agency was declared a union territory and renamed Arunachal Pradesh. The transition to statehood for these territories was successfully overseen by her administration. This was followed by the annexation of Sikkim in 1975.
  • Abolition of Privy Purse: Though many of the Quorans might share different view with regards to the abolition of the privy purse. But I consider this decision was necessary at during that time.
  • Successfully carry forwarding the process of Green Revolution. A program which allowed India to overcome poor agricultural productivity and led to an increase in food grain production.The introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the increased use of chemical fertilizers and irrigation led to the increase in production needed to make the country self-sufficient in food grains.
  • Launching of Operation Flood, which was the world’s biggest dairy development program.It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the USA.
  • Garibi Hatao program, funded and developed by the Central Government in New Delhi.
  • Gandhi authorized the development of nuclear weapons in 1967, The program became fully mature in 1974, when Dr. Raja Ramanna reported to Gandhi that India had the ability to test its first nuclear weapon. Gandhi gave verbal authorization of this test, and preparations were made in a long-constructed army base, the Indian Army Pokhran Test Range. In 1974, India successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, unofficially code named as “Smiling Buddha”.
  • Indira Gandhi presided over three Five-Year plans as Prime Minister, two of which succeeded in meeting the targeted growth.   (Indra Gandhi Phase in India )
  • In the late 1960s and 1970s, Indira Gandhi had the Indian army crush militant Communist uprisings in the Indian state of West Bengal.
  • In 1966, the Mizo uprising took place against the government of India and overran almost the whole of the Mizoram region. Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to launch massive retaliatory strikes in response. The rebellion was suppressed with the Indian Air Force even carrying out airstrikes in Aizawl; this remains the only instance of India carrying out an airstrike in its own civilian territory.
  • For insurgency in Nagaland, Indira Gandhi “unleashed a powerful military offensive” in the 1970s. Finally, a massive crackdown on the insurgents took place during the state of emergency ordered by her. The insurgents soon agreed to surrender and signed the Shillong Accord in 1975.

Indira Gandhi In Her fourthTerm As PM (1980-1984)

  • During the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was faced with threats to the political integrity of India. Several states sought a larger measure of independence from the central government, and Sikh separatists in Punjab state used violence to assert their demands for an autonomous state.
  • In 1982 a large number of Sikhs, led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, occupied and fortified the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex at Amritsar, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.
  • Tensions between the government and the Sikhs escalated, and in June 1984 Gandhi ordered the Indian army to attack and oust the separatists from the complex. Some buildings in the shrine were badly damaged in the fighting, and at least 450 Sikhs were killed (Sikh estimates of the death toll were considerably higher).
  • Five months later Gandhi was killed in her garden in New Delhi in a fusillade of bullets fired by two of her own Sikh bodyguards in revenge for the attack in Amritsar.
  • She was succeeded as prime minister by her son Rajiv, who served until 1989.

The Non-aligned Movement  [Indra Gandhi Phase in India ]

  • In the early 1980s under Gandhi, India attempted to reassert its prominent role in the Non-Aligned Movement by focusing on the relationship between disarmament and economic development.
  • By appealing to the economic grievances of developing countries, Gandhi and her successors exercised a moderating influence on the Non-aligned movement, diverting it from some of the Cold War issues that marred the controversial 1979 Havana meeting where Cuban leader Fidel Castro attempted to steer the movement towards the Soviet Union.
  • Although hosting the 1983 summit at Delhi boosted Indian prestige within the movement, its close relations with the Soviet Union and its pro-Soviet positions on Afghanistan and Cambodia limited its influence.



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