The Iron Lady of India as seen by Chennai’s young women - The New Indian Express

The Iron Lady of India as seen by Chennai’s young women

Published: 19th November 2012 09:51 AM

Last Updated: 19th November 2012 09:51 AM

Indira Gandhi, the charismatic, often controversial, and the first and so far the only woman Prime Minister of India, is known not just for her trademark hairstyle, starched sarees, Emergency and Operation Bluestar, but also for her strength and fearlessness.

Hence, the name ‘Iron Lady of India’.

On the eve of her 95th birth anniversary, City Express asked young women born before or around the time she was assassinated, about their perceptions of Indira. 

Those who grew up with the stories of her green revolution and economic programmes were surprised at the other side of her. Those blinded by her fearlessness and the will power of a strong woman who could run the country, saw her mistakes as just mistakes.

But an overwhelming majority of the young women we spoke to, saw Indira as the ideal role model for today’s strong woman. Here are a few of their answers:

Sangeetha, Consultant

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She was a charismatic political leader who headed the Congress party’s rule of India.

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

She is the first women ever elected to lead a democracy, one that is as divergent and vast as India and take bold decisions at various moments of her political career – a fine statesman.

Do you know how she died?

She was shot dead by her body guards due to Sikh extremism that brewed after Operation Bluestar.

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

She is the grandmother of Rahul Gandhi.

Anupama, Software professional

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She was the first Prime Minister that I knew about, someone to look up to. She laid the foundation for our country’s future. Strong or shaky, that’s debatable. She was the most dynamic Prime Minister that India has ever had.

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

Right now, I remember her only for the Emergency and Operation Blue Star and the ‘bad’ things. But when I was a child and didn’t know about all this, I knew her for her strong will and courage and maybe how she nationalised banks. Probably because that was what we were taught about her in school after her assassination. And I also remember her for the way she dressed. It was perfect.

Do you know how she died?

Her death was one of India’s ‘ Where were you when...’ moments - shot by her security guards and battling for life with bullets in her stomach. That was what our teacher told us when they let us go home early that day. Ironically, that was when I learnt the meaning if the word ‘security guard.’

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

Grandmother

Judy Balan, Author

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She was the first woman Prime Minister of India

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

I was very young when she died, but she has always been a fearless person as far as I’m concerned. In a time when women were not as liberated as we are today, to take up that kind of a role and be responsible for an entire country, that needed guts.

Also, her salt and pepper look was very cool. Her trademark, you could say.

Do you know how she died?

She was assassinated by her own security, wasn’t she?

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

She was his grandmother, of course.

Janet Raja, Dietician

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She was the first and only woman Prime Minister in India, daughter of Nehru.

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

The emergency, mostly. But I also remember her for the role model she was to women all over the country for her strength.  She was also the woman who could carry off such a bold hairdo with style.

Do you know how she died?

She was assassinated by her own guards.

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

She was his grandmother.

Indulekha Nair-Nelson, Dentist

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She was the first lady Prime Minister of India, declared the Emergency, daughter of Nehru, mother of Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi (and so on) and was assassinated.

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

Probably for declaring the Emergency? It used to be the fact that she was the first lady Prime Minister in India, but not anymore.

Do you know how she died?

She was assassinated by her bodyguards.

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

She was Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother.

Sabeena Varghese, librarian

What do you know about Indira Gandhi?

She is remembered as one of the most powerful and dynamic PM’s that India has ever had.

What is the one big thing you will remember her for?

I mostly remember her based on what I have heard and read about her. Declaration of Emergency, her defeat, re- emerging  to lead the INC. 

Do you know how she died?

She was assassinated by her own bodyguards.

How is she related to Rahul Gandhi?

He was her first son?

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