Madras Week 2012: The Roads Project: Day 3: Indira Nagar

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Where is Indira Nagar?

Indira Nagar is the area flanked by Thiruvanmiyur in the South, Besant Nagar in the East, and Kasturba Nagar in the North.

Who was Indira Gandhi?

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984) was the only child of Kamla and Jawaharlal Nehru. She spent part of her childhood in Allahabad, and part in Switzerland.

In 1964, the year of her father’s death, Indira Gandhi was for the first time elected to Parliament, as Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the government of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Indira Gandhi’s political ability and commitment ensured a meteoric rise within the ranks of the Congress. She held the office of the Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. Many factors contributed to her popularity: the feeling of national triumph after victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan; the Pokhran tests of 1974, which helped prove India’s nuclear power – these factors captured the interest and support of the middle-class. However, by 1973, demonstrations and protests broke out in Delhi and other areas in North India, fueled by anger at inflation, the poor economic state of the country, corruption, and poor standards of living. In June 1975, the High Court of Allahabad found her guilty of using illegal practices during the last election campaign, and ordered her to vacate her seat. There were demands for her resignation.

Mrs. Gandhi’s response was to declare a state of emergency, under which dissidents  were imprisoned, constitutional rights abrogated, and the press placed under strict censorship. In early 1977, feeling sure of victory, Mrs. Gandhi called for fresh elections, but the Congress was defeated by a newly formed coalition of several political parties. However, she returned as Prime Minister three years later.

In the second, post-Emergency, period of Gandhi’s Prime Ministership, the burning issue was political problems in Punjab. In her attempt to crush the secessionist movement of Sikh militants, led by Jarnail Singh Bindranwale, she ordered an assault upon the Sikh shrine in Amritsar, called the “Golden Temple”. The controversial “Operation Bluestar”, launched in June 1984, led to the death of Bindranwale, and the Golden Temple was stripped clean of Sikh terrorists; however, the temple was damaged. Sikhs viewed this as a desecration of the Temple, and in November of the same year, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated at her residence by her own Sikh bodyguards, who claimed to be avenging the insult upon the Sikh nation.

Gandhi also launched the “Garibi Hatao” (Remove Poverty) campaign.

Today her stint as Prime Minister is viewed as having done irreversible harm to democracy in India. It was during her term that corruption and nepotism flourished; probably encouraged by her streak of authoritarianism – she did not tolerate challenges to her authority. However, it is acknowledged that she was undeniably skilled in the game of politics.

Source:

Lal, V. (n.d.). History and Politics: Indira Gandhi . In Manas. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Independent/Indira.html.

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