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The Life Of Indira Gandhi History Essay

As India was ruled by Great Britain, a determined woman named Indira Gandhi and her family took control of the country and guided it towards success. Born into the family of active participants in the Indian National Congress Party, Gandhi began to fight for freedom at a young age. At the age of 12, she attempted to join the National Congress Party, but was denied because she was too young. However, she refused to watch while her family fought for their freedom, so she formed the Monkey Brigade, where thousands of India’s children assisted with the actions of the National Congress Party. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first prime minister, and with the help of his influence in politics, Gandhi received her chance to lead when she was elected as the third prime minister in 1966. Although she violated civil rights, Indira Gandhi improved the lives of Indian’s by increasing the standards of living and allowing the country to compete with the powerhouses of the world.

Gandhi stripped some Indian’s of their civil rights when she believed it was for the good of the nation. While Gandhi was prime minister, India’s birthrate began to increase dramatically, so she introduced a plan to reduce the birthrate. Her son Sanjay proposed a mandatory sterilization of all women, and Indira Gandhi allowed the law to pass (Groff). By implementing this law, Gandhi lost much of her popularity; yet the plan was an attempt to control the dangerous increase in population. If the population continued to increase, the high poverty rate would result in starvation and sickness. The forced sterilization policy sought to improve the conditions of living in India. However, her popularity continued to decline, and eventually in 1975, Indira Gandhi was convicted of violating election laws. Instead of stepping down, she declared a state of emergency and began to imprison her opponents ("Gandhi, Indira."). During this time, Gandhi believed that India’s success relied on Nationalistic Socialism. In this form of government, the progress of the nation outweighed democracy. However, after Raj Narain, who was defeated in the election by Gandhi, accused her of election fraud and use of state machinery for election purposes, revolutionist including Jayaprakash Narayn spread their democratic ideas ("To the Critics of Indira Gandhi”). Fearing that the spread of democracy would obscure national growth, she imprisoned thousands who opposed her without trial. Her fears became reality when in 1974-1975, per capita GDP fell by nine dollars. However, Gandhi’s firm hold on the government and economy during the state of emergency reversed the negative growth and in 1977, the GDP increased by 15%. Although she violated the civil rights of her opponents, she believed it was for the greater good of India, and released them once the tension had decreased. During the state of emergency, Gandhi also imposed strict censorship on the media (Simmons). Without freedom of speech or press, the media could not produce negative material towards Indira Gandhi and her organization. Her primary goal was to improve the national growth of India, no matter the repercussions. Gandhi’s courage to make unpopular decisions in the interest of national growth sets her apart from all other leaders of India ("To the Critics of Indira Gandhi”). With complete control of the media, Gandhi retained her rule over India, and continued to improve the economy and productivity of the country. During her regime, although she violated some civil rights, her overall focus was the welfare of India.

By increasing the standard of living, Indira Gandhi improved the lives of citizens of India. During her rule of India, Gandhi constantly pushed for a better education. She believed that educating the youth of India would greatly increase India importance in the world. One step she took to increase the education of India the creation of the National Policy on Education, also known as the NEP. Gandhi announced the policy in 1968, calling for “radical restructuring” (“National Policy on Education"). The policy called for mandatory education for students until age 14; and improved training and qualification of teachers. Along with enhanced basic education, the policy focused on the learning of foreign and regional languages. In secondary school, students were educated in both English and Hindi. After learning English, Indian businessmen could become extremely successful by further competing in the world market. The NEP provided millions of students with a better education and increased the potential of their lives. During Gandhi’s rule, the citizens of India suffered from unendurable poverty. In 1969, Indira Gandhi supported the nationalization of Indian banks in attempts to spread the wealth of the nation. Although many opposed the nationalization of Indian banks, including Marorji Desai, Gandhi’s lust for the improvement of India propelled the proposal forwards. Her plan increased the amount available for public spending, which was utilized for irrigation programs, rural electrification, and fisheries (“Indira Gandhi versus Morarji Desai”). With millions of starving and diseased Indian citizens, the country could not function properly. Indira Gandhi recognized the importance of providing food, jobs, and shelter to people of all social classes. While many leaders turned their backs to the problems of their nation, Gandhi proposed new ideas and programs to increase the standard of living for all Indians. By doing so, she succeeded in improving the lives of millions of citizens. During her political rule Gandhi introduced the Green Revolution. This program greatly increased the production of wheat, rice, cotton, and milk. Instead of relying on aid from the United States, the program called for India to diversify and export its commercial crops. In ten years, the program tripled wheat production and remarkably increased the rice production. The outstanding success of the Green Revolution increased industrial growth by providing jobs for farmers and grain processors. Along with industrial and economic growth, the revolution allowed India to pay back the loans it had taken from the World Bank, further improving India’s reliability in eyes of foreign investors and lenders (“India's Green Revolution”). Throughout her life, Indira Gandhi attempted to improve the standard of living for all Indians.

By strengthening India’s industries and trade, Gandhi improved the lives of her people by allowing her country to compete with the superpowers of the world. While she held the position of prime minister, Gandhi molded India into a competing power of the world. She did this by sponsoring the testing of atomic weapons and the development of nuclear power plants (Groff). After World War Two, the United States and Russia competed to possess the most powerful nuclear weapon. After India produced its first nuclear warhead, the country received tremendous respect from the world leaders (Asia Sentinel). By harnessing nuclear energy, India proved itself as a powerful competitor in scientific and nuclear studies. Now that the world powers respected the strength of India, Gandhi urged private investors from foreign countries to begin to build India’s industries (Groff). With private investors, India’s industries could quickly grow. India already possessed valuable materials that the British had raped from the land for hundreds of years, and with powerful industries, the country could become self-sufficient and grow into a dominate world leader. The growth of India relied on the production of commercial goods, highlighting the importance of industrialization. The need for processed goods forced the government to improve the industries of India. This industrial improvement created jobs for citizens and lessened the poverty rate of the country (Simmons). Although she supported foreign investment, Gandhi did not want to be colonized by another country. To assert her independence, she refused to align India with either the United States or the Soviet Union (Simmons). During the devastating period of British rule, thousands of Indians were killed and beaten, while all of the countries resources were funneled into Britain. By refusing to align with foreign countries, Gandhi protected her people from colonization. Simultaneously, she preserved the diverse culture of India. If India surrendered its independence, the extraordinary culture would be tainted with foreign views and opinions (Asia Sentinel). Throughout her rule of India, Indira Gandhi improved the lives of her people by strengthening the industries and trade of India.

During her life, Indira Gandhi used her positions in the Indian government to improve the lives of her people. By improving living standards and increasing industry and trade, she made a lasting impact on the people of India. Her determination to provide her people with better lives reveals her significance in Indian history. Without a firm leader like Gandhi, India’s industry would have collapsed, and educational standards would have remained low. Although she put her life into helping her country, Gandhi was assassinated in her home by her bodyguards in 1984. Her death reveals that one person cannot single handedly solve the problems of a nation. Today, India have become a dominate world power, and without the leadership of Indira Gandhi and her family, the country would not be nearly as politically stable and economically advanced.

Work Cited

"Asia Sentinel - The Indira Gandhi Legacy." Asia Sentinel - Home. 02 Nov. 2009. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2126&Itemid=255>.

“India's Green Revolution." IndiaOneStop . . . . .Indian Business Information and Advisory Resource. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://www.indiaonestop.com/Greenrevolution.htm>.

"Indira Gandhi versus Morarji Desai -- The Real Reason for Bank Nationalisation." The Hindu Business Line : Monday, May 10, 2010. 07 Feb. 2000. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2000/02/07/stories/040708m4.htm>.

"Gandhi, Indira." Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

ItemID=WE53&iPin=WHI0213&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 21, 2010).

Groff, Claire Price. "Gandhi, Indira." Twentieth-Century Women Political Leaders, Global Profiles. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1998. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

ItemID=WE53&iPin=wmleader00002&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 21, 2010).

"National Policy on Education." Web. 9 May 2010. <http://www.education.nic.in/policy/npe-1968.pdf>.

Simmons, Caleb. "Gandhi, Indira." In Ackermann, Marsha E., Michael Schroeder, Janice J. Terry, Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur, and Mark F. Whitters, eds. Encyclopedia of World History: The Contemporary World, 1950 to the Present, vol. 6. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

ItemID=WE53&iPin=WHVI120&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 21, 2010).

"To the Critics of Indira Gandhi." Biplab Speaks on Spiritualism. 31 Oct. 2009. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://biplabspiritualism.blogspot.com/2009/10/indira-gandhi-iron-lady-of-east.html>.

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