Remembering India’s ‘Iron Lady’

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/30/2019 1:09:09 PM IST

 On October 31,1984 India’s third prime minister, Indira Gandhi also known as the ‘Iron Lady’ of India, was assassinated by two of her trusted Sikh bodyguards as she walked to her Number 1 Safdarjang residence to meet British actor Peter Ustinov, who was filming a documentary for Irish television. It was an irony that despite intelligence advice to remove her personal Sikh security guards-Satwant Singh and Beant Singh- Indira refused saying she trusted them. The two Sikh bodyguards and Khalistani sympathisers, assassinated Indira to avenge the assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar code named ‘Operation Bluestar’ by the Indian army under then COAS Gen.A.S.Vaidya in June 1984. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the military operation against Sikh Khalistani militants from the Harmandir Sahib Complex, or the Golden Temple located in Amritsar, Punjab. The operation was carried out between June 1 and June 8, 1984. Gen(retd)Vaidya who directed ‘Operation Bluestar’ was assassinated by Khalistani gunmen in Pune on August 10,1986. Under the Indira Gandhi regime, India’s foreign policy saw a landmark period where it established itself as a regional power in South Asia. She refused to back the USA in the Vietnam War and drew the ire of America. As a result, the import of food grains from the US to India saw a steady decline, giving rise to shortages of food supply in the country. This prompted the Indira Gandhi government to adopt Norman Borlaugh‘s Green Revolution ideology. Indira was indeed a steely leader who pursued her policies with firmness. She undertook unpopular but needed decisions such as nationalisation of 14 major banks in 1969 followed by ordering the abolition of privy purses to the princely states in 1970. Indira Gandhi also 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. India Gandhi authorized the development of nuclear weapons in 1967 and it became fully mature in 1974 when she okayed India’s first underground nuclear explosion in Pokhran in 1974 under the code name “Smiling Buddha”. The biggest success of her foreign policy came with the Indo-Pakistan war in East Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh after the 1971 war. The creation of Bangladesh led to an assertion of India’s dominance in South Asia. After leading India to victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, she was hailed as a ‘goddess’ by many political leaders with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in particular, calling her ‘Goddess Durga‘. Even RSS had hailed Indira as a courageous and determined leader. She was doughty and even ruthless in her decisions among which was the national emergency she declared on June 26, 1975 until its withdrawal in January 1977. Most remember the detentions and forced sterilisations etc but there were also some positives, albeit unpopular such as instilling accountability and discipline in the entire system. Indira Gandhi is remembered for her contributions to India’s growth, both in her domestic and foreign policies. She continues to be a relevant name in Indian history and politics, given that no other women has held the post of India’s Prime Minister after her. Perhaps, there will never be another Indira, the woman-warrior of India for a long time.


Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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