In the 200 year odd colonial rule over India, the freedom struggle lasted for a century. Countless were killed in the name of suppressing the movement & innumerable martyred themselves in the hope that someday their death as in life would bring salvation to the country. Women’s’ contribution to the same cannot be overlooked, but somehow the face of India’s political history conjures up the image of a single woman clad in crisp cotton Sarees. Her purposeful walk, unflinching gaze from a phlegmatic face, her will bordering on the lines of dictatorship. She is reminiscent of a bygone era, and yet the only memorable face to have laced ‘Time’ magazine, representing India. That’s Indira Gandhi; not just for India, but the world over.
Here are 5 reasons why she is hard to forget…
When the integrity of the country was shred to fragments and its security questioned, Mrs. Gandhi did something that most wouldn’t even bother considering. She led a 24 year old country into war. Her decisive call out for war not only made the enemy retreat back to where it came from, but gave an unforgettable blow by ripping it into two (Read Bangladesh). She inspired men in the same manner as she intimidated. Her soft demeanor often belied the fierce woman she was within.
Her political decisions questionable, her policies debatable, her very own personal life often marred in controversies, but it didn’t deter Mrs. Gandhi from taking the decisions she did, or voicing her opinion regardless of its consequences. In short, she had the gumption to call a spade a spade. And, rarely cowered in the event of it backfiring.
Saree remains the principle formal/official attire for most Indian women and yet you hardly ever come across one even remotely resembling her. It isn’t the attire, but the personality it wears within that makes it unique. She was a rare breed. Everything about her made her stand apart, beg notice of her. And, it was effortless.
Beyond herself, the attention she brought to India was both, discomforting and commendable. India’s tottering economy was bolstered under her office. Her efforts to eradicate poverty, bring the burgeoning population under control whilst strengthening the industrial sectors to make the country more self-reliant brought both, appreciation and brickbats to her office.
She was the first woman leader of a largely patriarchal society, a political visionary who led a secular state into both war and peace. She never refrained from calling the shots even if it meant being detrimental to her life. At a time when most women would have been content staying indoors, she showcased what women could be if they chose to step outside of their kitchens.
Her political career was as scandalous as her personal life, but she carried on regardless. Her failed decisions doubly highlighted under the glare of patriarchal vision. She neither shied from making mistakes nor taking credit for the right ones. Whilst her administrative policies may be questioned, there is no denial to the fact that she truly remained the daughter of India, as she tried her optimum to navigate the country through some of the most tricky days witnessed.
Author : Nimisha Menon