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Nineteenth November is the birth centenary of a greatest women leader of the country whom infinite people adore and still remember as the most successful prime minister India ever had while her ardent critics term her as the dictator who made peoples’ life hell by imposing the emergency in 1975.

Yes, I am talking about non other but Indira Gandhi, the daughter of the first prime minister of free India Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and grand daughter of freedom fighter Moti lal Nehru. Indira Gandhi who served India for seventeen long years as the most successful prime minister except her greatest blunder of 1975, imposing dreaded emergency is today remembered as the Iron Lady, a most determined prime minister and a women of grit, determination and perseverence who not only created a vertical division of Pakistan by creating Bangladesh compelling 90000 Pakistan Army to surrender but also established herself as an international icon turning away the mighty American Shipment full of arms and ammunition coming to the rescue of Pakistan during the 1971 war and doing Pokhram Nucleur explosion, making India a Nucleur power. It was during her tenure that India’s Appolo 72 entered the Moon and created a history of sorts in space science globally. It was in 1972 when Indira Gandhi while communicating with the Apollo 72 Astraunaut asked Rakesh Sharma, how is India looking from the space and he repled “saare jahan se achcha Hindustan Hamaara”.

Indira Gandhi was undoubtedly a most suceessful PM of the largest democracy of the world who not only strengthened the international non aligned movement and was designated as its chairman but also succeeded in keeping then USA, the then Pakistan ally at bay by way of strengthening bond of strong and viable friendship with the then most powerful superpower of the world the USSR during the Leonid Breznev era. Indira Gandhi was a multifaceted and a multi dimensional iconic personality who was adored and loved by all sections of the people in the country and established fullest secular credentials.

Having nationalised the 14 largest commercial banks of the count Indira Gandhi’s Garibi Hatao slogan really hit the masses during her tenure to stage a comeback as a most formidable prime minister of India, after the Bangladesh war. It was the leader of the opposition of the then Jan Sangh Atal Bihari Vajpayee, her ardent critic who publicly lauded her leadership as the Iron lady of the country who in her capacity of the then prime minister created Bangladesh amid all odds and international challenges and gave her the title of MAA DURGA.

A symbol of true secularism, architect of modern India, a dashing and dynamic leader with precision, Indira Gandhi was the most mobile, a unanimous choice and the pro people leader of the country under whose 17 year old tenure not only had India progressed and prospered by leaps and bounds technologically, scientifically, educationally and nuclearly but the communal fabric of the nation was also fully maintained. However despite, Indira Gandhi’s international leadership domain as a great leader in the global political scenerio who touched all horizons and her triumphs in the domestic front taking India to heights of all round economic and industrial development, the greatest drawback of hers was the perpetuation of dynasty by promoting her autocratic son Sanjay Gandhi annoying one and all in and outside party and imposing the most draconian emergency that lead to over 1 lakh detentions, unaccounted tortures of the people, thousands of forced sterilizations and curbing of the fundamental rights of the people and media of the country bringing bad name internationally and leading to formation of Janata Party out of the total revolution of Jaya Prakash Narayan, a conglomeration of 22 political anti Congress outfits. According to the then Director in the PM Secretariate and the former foreign Secretary Salman Haider who worked in close proximity with Mrs Gandhi she as the prime minister, was not only a meticulous hostess but also wanted her staff to maintain high standards of courtsey and decorum. He adds that even after being the supreme authority of the country, Indira Gandhi never lost the attributes of a gracious lady.

Her another biggest mistake rather the blunder of her life was first nurturing Bhindranwale to counter the political influence of the Akalies in Punjab and then going for the operation black star that allowed the army to enter Golden temple that lead to killings of several Indian Army Jawans and Khalistani terrorists, as well finally leading to her despicable assasination by her own two Sikh body guards. She returned to power in 1980 before being assasinated. Indira Gandhi was assasinated in 1984 and 30 years after her sad demise she is still remembered in great reverence as a towering iconic personality of the country, an iron lady prime minister who always cared for the poor and the down troddens but committed the biggest blunder of imposing emergency, promoting dynasty and ordering entry of the Indian Army in Golden temple thus costing her precious life, the scars of which are still fresh in peoples’ minds and in the minds of her arch political rivals who still loose no oportunity to rake up those draconion days of 1975 when people of the country suffered the most.
Indira Gandhi is immortal despite few flaws but hundreds of outstanding achievements.
SUNIL NEGI