Video: Interview with Indira Gandhi from 1971
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (1917-84) became Prime Minister of India on January 19th, 1966, following the sudden death of Lal Bahadour Shastri on January 11th. She was the third Prime Minister of India and served for three terms.
Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru. She married the politician and journalist Feroze Gandhi (1912-60) in 1942 and had two sons, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. She became a member of the central committee of the Indian Congress in 1950 and was president of the Indian Congress Party from 1959 to 1960. First elected in 1966, she was re-elected for a second term in 1971. The Indian Congress Party was defeated in the 1977 general election, however, and Indira Gandhi lost her seat. She returned to power for a third term on January 14th, 1980.
Indira Gandhi was notably Prime Minister at the time of the Indo-Pakistani War in December 1971 and was instrumental in the creation of an independent Bangladesh. The war was sparked by the Bangladesh Liberation War between the dominant West Pakistanis and the majority East Pakistanis, which broke out in the aftermath of the 1970 Pakistani elections when the East Pakistani Awami League won a majority of seats in East Pakistan. When the leader of the Awami League Mujibur Rahman claimed the right to form the government, the Pakistani President Yahya Khan ordered the military to suppress dissent: dissidents were arrested, the Awami League was banished and Mujibur Rahman was arrested. The Pakistani army also carried out atrocities against the civilian populations of East Pakistan and it is estimated that 10 million refugees fled to India. The war eventually ended on December 16th, 1971, when the Pakistani army signed the Instrument of Surrender in Dhaka, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.
In this interview, recorded in November 1971 when Indira Gandhi toured the world in an effort to raise awareness of the situation, she talks about the tension on the Indian borders with Pakistan, the possible creation of a separate state in East Pakistan, the genocide against East Pakistanis and how she plans to deal with the refugee problem.
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For further reading
S. Khilnani, The Idea of India (1997)
P. Brass, The Politics of India since Independence (2nd edn. 1994)
D. Butler, P. Roy and A. Lahiri, India Decides: Elections 1952-91 (1991)
D.A. Low, The Political Inheritance of Pakistan (1991)
H.A. Rizvi, The Military and Politics in Pakistan: 1947-1986 (1986)
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