4 Decisions That Made Indira Gandhi ‘The Iron Lady Of India’

One of the most important names in Indian politics, Indira Gandhi is the only female Prime Minister the country has seen to date. She is also the second-longest-serving Prime Minister, after her father Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

While serving as the PM of India, Indira Gandhi took some bold and controversial decisions. On the occasion of her birth anniversary, let’s have a look at some of her most popular decisions that defined her tenure.

1. The declaration of emergency

The declaration of national emergency (25 June, 1975 – 21 March, 1977) is one of the most controversial decisions in the post-independence history of India. 

Indira Gandhi said that threats to national security were the reason behind declaring an emergency across the country. It received a lot of criticism. It also caused Congress the elections. However, people once again placed their trust in Indira and brought her back to power in 1980.

2. The first nuclear test of India

Indira Gandhi felt the need to establish India as a major military and scientific power. She authorized testing a nuclear device in the year 1972, just after the Indo-Pak war which established her as a hero. India conducted its first nuclear test on May 18th, 1974. Thus, it became the only non-permanent member of the UNSC to be a nuclear power.

However, it did not go down well with the more powerful nations of the world. But this didn’t really affect Indira Gandhi. She always made sure that India kept moving forward on the path of development. Her decision made it clear that India was not ready to compromise when it came to standing up for its rights.

3. Operation Blue Star

Operation Blue Star is the biggest internal security mission by the Indian army and one of the most controversial decisions by Indira Gandhi. The operation involved sending the Army to the Golden Temple to flush out militants. Around 492 civilians and 83 Army personnel lost their lives. It was perhaps this decision that caused Indira her life.

4. Indira Gandhi and the Bangladesh Liberation War

Freedom calls resonated in (then) East Pakistan in the year 1971. India, under the leadership of Indira, intervened in the conflict and helped in liberating Bangladesh.

The West Pakistani politicians refused to cede power to the Awami League. The Pakistani army cracked down on the protesting opposition in East Pakistan. This resulted in a massive refugee influx into India. Indira Gandhi took a bold and unpredictable decision when she intervened in the crisis and supported the Awami League and Mukti Bahini groups. What followed was a full-fledged war in which Pakistan had to face a crushing defeat. It leads to the creation of Bangladesh.

The war witnessed the largest surrender ever till date, even larger than any surrender in World War 2. The Indian Army took 93,000 Pakistani soldiers as prisoners of war.

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