Indira Gandhi the Iron lady of India whose life transformed from the “goongi gudia” to the Empress of India was every girl’s role model. The superb politician, political virago and the girl-boy whose identity was a synonym to power and force in every Indian mind, celebrates her birthday today. The value and image the lady carries in my mind fail to collaborate with my recent learning. I remember being asked to get the hairdo’s like Indira Gandhi as a child so that I grow up to be the only sun on my planet. I also remember hearing the stories of a brave girl who fought hardships alone during the national freedom period when Nehru was sent to prison and grew up to be the first woman prime-minister of India. Fantasizing, I drew up my own first ideas to get as popular as her.
However, reading media texts deviate me from my early idol as the texts have given me cognitive dissonance learning about her past and I no longer aspire to be her alter-ego. Even after 30 years of her death, she rides the horizon of politics with Vinci’s colors. Also, One of the most respected prime ministers was either a great leader or just a long-serving PM is a question that ponders me at this hour. However, in dissonance, I assemble bullets in my mind why I no longer idolize her.
The hero of Bangladesh crisis who made eastern Pakistan surrender and liberalize Bangladesh brought her international fame however lost Indian hearts due to her failure to take measures to fight in the Western corridor and liberate Kashmir from the whims of Pakistan. She could not strike the rod when the iron was hot.
Indira even nurtured the GAG Law to establish her reign over the Indians. The GAG law being an ordinance of bureaucratic favoritism, to protect the netas and babus where the executive power overrules the judicial and legislative power. Indira drew her power to the suspension of the most precise constitution, hoarding back the rights civilians held in a free country.
The scar that left no space for idolization of the Iron Lady was the Emergency of 1975. The prime minister during the state of emergency on the country exposed censorship of the press. Some newspapers published blank editorials while the others acted as the mouthpiece of government to prevent their shutdown. Those who acted rebelliously were termed to jail and all this to protect the master manipulator who resorted to using unfair means and bogus voting to win elections. The enemy of freedom in a free country cannot hold strict to a position of an idol.
The blot on Indira’s fair name came when her son exercised extensive power during the black days of Indian democracy by forcing sterilization. The sterilization program in hand with Gareebi hatao saw human rights being murdered in practice. Sanjay Gandhi’s gruesome campaign to sterilize poor men was seen as a holocaust. 15 times the no of people were sterilized by Gandhi than the brutal Nazis.
Another important reason was the infamous Operation Blue Star, where Indira displayed narcissistic traits. Indira even made use of black propaganda to protect her blatant nepotism. Her tyranny damaged the internal democracy reducing India’s oldest political party to the just the status of acknowledgment.
The gracious lady has been applauded for her steps in Green Revolution, Bank Nationalization, and nuclear deals. She had a mixed political career with dramatic highs and lows. Despite the development she brought to the Indian name her steps to demonize the democratic post of Prime Minister, almost ruin civil liberties, kill the values of constitution and steps to throttle human rights over casted a dark shadow to the beautiful image of Indira.