Who is the President of India 50

50 years agoIndira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister of India

Indira Gandhi, born in 1917 as the daughter of state founder Jawaharlal Nehru, experienced the history of her country at the forefront: the struggle against British colonial rule and the division of the subcontinent, the independence of India in 1947, the wars over Kashmir with Pakistan and the border war with China . She stood by her father in an advisory capacity until his death. In order to fulfill her political duties, Indira even left her husband Feroze Gandhi. He was not related to the Mahatma, but his last name still opened doors. Indira Gandhi always saw herself as India's first servant and "mother of the nation".

"It wasn't so clearly defined when I was younger, but making India strong and stable so that people can cope with their problems, that was my concern when I was a small child."

When Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died unexpectedly at the beginning of 1966, Indira Gandhi, then Minister of Information, was chosen in the ruling Congress party. As a woman, she was a compromise candidate, but she had a lot of political experience and came from the right family. She took office on January 24, 1966.

"The most important tasks are to feed the population, to raise their standard of living, to awaken a new awareness of social and economic issues, to promote education and to make people receptive to new ideas."

Power crumbles in the economic crisis

A rapidly growing population, bad harvests and great poverty: India's problems were enormous. The government was barely able to master the socio-political challenges, but Indira Gandhi was successful in foreign policy. In 1971 Indian troops expelled Pakistan from Bengal and Indira Gandhi became the midwife of Bangladesh's independence. Establishing India as a regional power: that was what drove them. In 1974 the country tested the atomic bomb, a clear signal, not just in the direction of Pakistan. South Asia expert Christian Wagner from the Science and Politics Foundation in Berlin:

"In 1974, when Indira Gandhi decided to carry out the nuclear weapon test, status reasons must have played a major role, especially India's efforts at that time to be recognized as a major power on an equal footing with the People's Republic of China."

But the oil price shock and subsequent inflation plunged India into a deep economic crisis. The people were dissatisfied, Indira Gandhi's power crumbled. The opposition put her on a corruption case because of a minor misconduct by Indian standards - a state official had worked for her as an election campaign worker. You lost the process. The people voted her out in 1977, followed by her successful comeback in 1980.

Second term and assassination attempt

Indira Gandhi's second term as Prime Minister was marked by religious conflicts between Hindus and Sikhs. The Sikhs demanded more religious freedom and autonomy in the Punjab. Indira Gandhi made concessions, but even more moderate Sikh politicians like Harchand Singh Longowal did not go far enough.

"Ms. Gandhi has declared that she will fulfill some of the religious demands. But nothing has happened. Our demands for a new distribution of the river water, which is particularly important for us because of the artificial irrigation of the fields, have not yet been implemented."

The conflict escalated. Radical Sikhs occupied the temple area of ​​Amritsar. Indira Gandhi stormed the Sikh sanctuaries, thousands were killed. In revenge for her unscrupulous actions, Indira Gandhi was murdered in October 1984 by her own Sikh bodyguards. As a result, angry Hindus attacked Sikhs across the country. Again there were up to 8,000 victims on the part of the Sikhs.

The religious conflicts calmed down again, but India remained a difficult country to rule. On the day of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv was elected Prime Minister of India, continuing the tradition of the Nehru Gandhi family in political leadership roles. Rajiv Gandhi died like his mother in an attack in 1991. Today Rajiv's widow Sonia and son Rahul Gandhi determine the fate of the Indian Congress Party.