Smt. Indira Gandhi: Symbol of Courage, Bravery and Struggle

Smt. Indira Gandhi: Symbol of Courage, Bravery and Struggle

  • Suresh Pachouri

Bharat Ratna Smt. Indira Gandhi is one of such great personalities whose memory, paving a way for us, illuminates us. Her life journey from being “Priyadarshini” to Prime Minister is an indelible part of the country’s history. Her progressive ideology and leadership style gave a new direction to Indian politics. Her personality was imbued with the strength of the Himalayas and the gravity of the seas. Her working style gave her a charismatic personality that enabled her become a true public leader. Indira Ji was an efficient administrator and a far-sighted leader. She was gifted with natural qualities like strong determination and quick decision-making ability due to which she gained immense popularity among the people.

Whenever the great saga of valour of 1971 is mentioned, in which more than 90 thousand soldiers of Pakistan had surrendered before the Indian Army, all the countrymen remember Indira Ji with due respect. It was due to Indira Ji’s foresightedness and ability to take right decisions at the right time, that Bangladesh could emerge as a new nation on the world map. Had Indira Gandhi not been there, could Bangladesh be formed? Could Sikkim be merged with India? Could Sri Lanka’s violent insurgency be controlled? Could India become the superpower of South Asia? Indira Ji played her important role with unparalleled skill and dignity in Non-Aligned movement, in Apartheid and in maintaining universal peace.

Indira Ji believed, “As long as there is poverty and inequality in the country, there will be no work to remove it if no one has proper employment. We will have to make freedom a reality for the poor.’’ Indira Ji’s resolve was - poverty should be eliminated, inequalities should be removed and injustice should end -This was her goal and she struggled throughout her life for achieving it. Indira Ji’s words and actions were always in tandem with each other. She used to make action plans towards fulfilling the assurances given to the people of the country form time-to-time. At the initiative of Indiraji, new economic policies and programmes were decided in the Sixth Five Year Plan which included comprehensive and long-term measures for poverty alleviation. Indira Ji strengthened the social and economic fabric of the country through the slogan of eradicating poverty and the 20-point programme. In the 20-point socio-economic programme, major efforts were made to improve the living standards of the landless, workers, marginal farmers, slum dwellers and the poor and weaker sections. As a result, a new phase of development started in the country. She made tireless efforts for the social and economic upliftment of minorities.

Smt. Indira Gandhi struggled throughout her life to solve the problems of the people of India. She truly followed the traditions and principles of democracy based on secularism, national unity and equality. She got implemented many far-reaching schemes so that every section of the country gets the benefits of development and everyone gets equal opportunities. Nationalization of banks, abolition of privy purses of kings and emperors, nationalization of oil companies, equitable distribution of country’s resources etc. were a few of her progressive steps. Indira Ji wanted every Indian to live a life of dignity. She took many steps towards empowering the exploited sections of the society and Indian women who had been neglected and oppressed for centuries. During her rule, women got equal rights, a law was made to give wages to agricultural women laborers equal to those of men, many schemes were started for the welfare of working women.

Indira Ji strongly wanted to ensure the food security of the country, for which purpose, she initiated the “Green Revolution” in the field of agriculture. During her Prime Ministership, many projects were started to improve the living standards of farmers - new technology, water, fertilizers, improved seeds and agriculture were provided to the farmers for better crops, due to which, the country could become self-reliant in the field of agriculture. Indira Ji knew that bringing prosperity in the lives of farmers from farming income is a difficult task, hence she started “White (Milk) Revolution” and established the National Dairy Development Board. Along with this, she established the All-India Institute of Rural Management which started the soybean revolution along with the milk revolution.

During her lifetime, Indira Ji recognized the sufferings and aspirations of the country’s tribal community very well and was always committed to their development. She had great affection for the tribal brethren. Indira Ji wanted the problems of the tribal community to be solved and their civilization and traditions to be safeguarded. Today the world is talking about environment, climate change, wildlife, protection of forests and wildlife, while Indira Ji had started working on these issues in 1972 itself. She created the Project Tiger programme in 1972 and banned the hunting of lions and tigers. Indira Ji used lakhs of people in 1975 to save the environment and plant trees. She played a prominent role in the 1972 United Nations Environmental Protection Conference.

Smt. Indira Gandhi always disliked the ideology of discrimination between castes and communities, which caused deep damage to the country in the past. She was a strong supporter of the principles of secularism. Very few people get such an opportunity to sacrifice their lives for the very purpose for which they live. Indira Ji fought tirelessly to end sectarian forces and communal violence and sacrificed her life for the unity and integrity of the country.

Indira ji had a special attachment to Madhya Pradesh. She visited almost all the areas of Madhya Pradesh and laid the foundation stone for the development works of the state. For example, Indus River Project in Shivpuri of Gwalior division, Fertilizer Factory in Vijaypur, Narmada Sagar Major Irrigation Project in Malwa-Nimar, Narmada Drinking Water Project in Khargone, Vindhyachal Thermal Project in Sidhi of Rewa Division and Sanjay Gandhi Super Thermal Project in Shahdol, Bhopal. There are many projects like Environment Protection Institute in Madhya Pradesh which are a part of our heritage as souvenirs of Indira Ji and these have brought a new dawn of development and prosperity in Madhya Pradesh.

Today, Indira Ji is not among us, but her thoughts and actions do. We pay our respects to her and pledge to maintain the unity and integrity of the country on her birth anniversary. Today, we remember her life for her extraordinary leadership, courage and sacrifice. The dreams and ideals with which Smt. Indira Gandhi sacrificed her life are ideals and guideposts for us and it is our duty to follow them.

(The writer is the Minister of State for Defense Production, Personnel and Parliamentary Affairs in the Government of India)