Congress leader Jairam Ramesh says Indira Gandhi saw herself as an environmentalist, not politician

The former Union Environment Minister was speaking at an event organised at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of South Asia to promote his recent book "Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature".

Published: 24th July 2017 10:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2017 10:23 AM   |  A+A-

Former Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. (File | PTI)


NEW DELHI: Indira Gandhi may have been criticised for her policies during her tenure as Prime Minister and called authoritative but what people hardly know is that she was very much an environmentalist and naturalist, said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on the life of India's iron lady.

The former Union Environment Minister was speaking at an event organised at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of South Asia to promote his recent book "Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature" published by Simon & Schuster India, (Price Rs 799, pp 448). The book, which is released to mark the centenary year of Indira Gandhi, is an unconventional environmental biography.

"The environmental Indira Gandhi was entirely different. Very few are aware of her inclination towards the environment. She became a politician not by choice but by force of circumstances. She was born in a political family and grew up within the influence of politics," Ramesh observed.

He pointed out that Gandhi's initial days at Santiniketan took her closer to nature. It was also her education in Switzerland and her stay with her mother in the hills that helped shape her inclination towards nature.

While talking about the relevance of his book in the present scenario, Ramesh said Indira Gandhi was the main brain behind the implementation of four laws that govern environment regulation in India -- the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981.

"Not just that, the state Pollution Control Boards, the Central Pollution Control Board, the Ministry of Environment were all created by her. She was also India's first Minister of Environment from 1980-1984," he said.

Ramesh cited an example of how in the 1970s, Indira Gandhi was the only leader in the world to make the environment a global and political issue. 

"In 1972, when the UN had its first Conference on Environment in Stockholm, Indira Gandhi was the only Prime Minister in the world to attend it apart from the Swedish PM," he pointed out.

The Congress leader also added that Indira Gandhi was always worried about climate change, deforestation, coastal erosion, loss of bio-diversity and was an ecological pioneer in terms of raising these issues both in India and abroad. 

"She was the first and last Prime Minister to give importance to nature protection. It was not a private passion but fascination that became a public calling in which she tried to persuade, cajole and educate her colleagues at a time when the environment was not a fashionable issue," he observed.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp