#WhatTheFAQ: It's India's first woman PM Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary. Let's take you back to her era

To mark her birth anniversary, an all-women gathering will be walking along with her grandson and Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Yatra
Pic credits: Edex Live
Pic credits: Edex Live

India's only woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born today, November 19, in 1917, in Allahabad. The Iron Lady of India once said, "I have lived a long life and I am proud that I spend the whole of my life in the service of my people. I am only proud of this and nothing else. I shall continue to serve until my last breath, and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it." She served the nation till her last breath. 

Now, to mark her birth anniversary, an all-women gathering will be walking along with her grandson and Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Yatra. Started on September 7 with an aim to unite the people of India to fight against communalism, unemployment, inflation and political centralisation, this yatra is marching towards Madhya Pradesh from Maharastra now. Women from self-help groups (SHGs) and women elected representatives will be joining the movement today. 

But what do we know about the Iron Lady's legacy? #WhatTheFAQ is here with all details from her childhood till date. 

What was her childhood like?
Born in Allahabad, which is now Prayagraj, in Uttar Pradesh, Indira Gandhi was a Kashmiri Pandit. Both her parents — father Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, and mother Kamala Nehru — were freedom fighters and leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC). 

Gandhi studied at the Modern School in Delhi, St Cecilia's and St Mary's Convent in Allahabad. This was followed by the International School of Geneva, the Ecole Nouvelle at Beaux and the People's Own School at Pune and Bombay. Although she enlisted to pursue higher studies at Oxford University, she couldn't finish it. 

After her returned to India, in 1942, she married Feroze Gandhi, who is also a freedom fighter and member of the INC. They were both survived by sons Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. 

Indira or Priyadharshini?
Gandhi also studied at Shantiniketan in West Bengal, where legendary writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore named her Priyadarshini. From then she was called Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi. 

What are the highlights of her political career?
Gandhi was the second longest serving Prime Minister after her father Jawaharlal Nehru. Additionally, she is the first and only woman PM to serve the nation, from January 1966 to March 1977 and from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984. It was in 1959 that Gandhi was appointed as president of the Congress party.

The notable and bold decisions she took:
- Historic Green Revolution in the 1960s 
- Nationalisation of 14 banks in 1969 which controlled 70 per cent of the country's deposits 
- Declaring war against Pakistan to support the Independent State of Bangladesh in 1971 which made India the regional hegemony of South Asia
- Conducting India's first nuclear test Pokhran I in 1974
- Making Sikkim state a part of India in 1975. This was considered a bold move as they might have been resistance from China 
- Called for Emergency from 1975 to 77 where basic civil liberties were suspended and the press was censored. During this emergency, atrocities were widespread 
- Call for military action in the Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star

What was she criticised for?
Although she was well-known for her firm and bold political decisions, she was equally criticised for being a dynast. Leaders like BJP's veteran and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee called her as powerful as 'Goddess Durga'. She was  real founder of dynasty politics. She tried to promote her younger son Sanjay Gandhi, but after his death in a plane crash, she pulled Rajiv Gandhi into politics. 

Her political career was blotted with the 21 months of emergency from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977. After returning to power in the 1980s, her order for military action in the Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star led to her assassination. She was assassinated by her own bodyguards and Sikh nationalists on October 31, 1984. Assailants fired 31 bullets at her, of which 30 hit and 23 passed through her while seven remained embedded. She failed to establish peace in Punjab, Kashmir and the Northeast. 

Despite this, her legacy continues as one of the strongest leaders of India, especially as the fierce Iron Lady of India. 

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