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Indira Ghandi's Death

Indira Ghandi

The life and death of Indira Ghandi:

She had the name of two famous leaders in India. Born Indira Nehru, she was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru…

Jawaharlal Nehru

…who led the country's fight for independence from British rule and who later became India's first Prime Minister. Indira Gandhi became her name after her marriage to Feroze Gandhi.

Feroze Gandhi

Although she was not related to him, she did have ties to the legendary Indian leader Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi.

Mohandas Gandhi

And like him, she died because of assassins' bullets.

Indira had a lonely and unhappy childhood. A younger brother died young and she lived with her mother, Kamala Nehru, on the family's estate. Her mother was frail and frequently confined to bed, suffering an early death from tuberculosis. Indira had limited contact with her father while growing up – communicating mostly through letters.

Taught at home by tutors as a child, she went to Europe to take care of her ailing mother and it was decided she's continue her education at the University of Oxford. Here's a photo from the early 1930's

Indira Gandhi the early 1930's

Indira worked for her Prime Minister father from 1947 to 1964, building influence. When Nehru died in 1965, she was appointed to a legislative post and became Prime Minister a year later.

Indira Gandhi was known for playing political hardball and a knack to centralize power. She was India's third Prime Minister, from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 until she was killed in 1984. She was the only woman to serve in that office, and was the second longest serving Prime Minister of India.

She was a familiar figure on the world stage, seen with the big political names of her era, everyone from Jacquelin Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the United States to the Shah of Iran and government leaders from Europe and Africa.

She has an uneven record of performance. Domestically, she worked to expand the agricultural programs instituted by her father to better feed the Indian people. She also pioneered the principle of equal pay for equal work for both men and women and it became part of India's Constitution. Indira Gandhi also authorized the development of nuclear weapons for India and declared a State of Emergency in her country, arresting most of her opponents.

Indira Gandhi on the cover of Time Magazine

She suffered tragedy in her personal life when her son Sanjay – chosen to be her political heir - was killed in a flying accident in 1980. She persuaded her older son Rajiv to leave his pilot's career and enter politics in 1981. Ten years later, Rajiv Ghandi was assassinated, about seven years after his mother suffered a similar fate.

She gave her last speech the day before she died, offering the quote seen on this magazine cover.

Indira Gandhi on the cover of Time Magazine

On October 31, 1984 two of her bodyguards fired multiple shots (three from one, thirty from the other) with their service weapons at her residence.

painting of Indira Gandhi getting shot

She was on her way to a television interview. Gandhi was rushed to a hospital but there was no chance, 23 bullets ripped through her body and another seven were trapped inside.

newspaper report of Indira Gandhi death

One of the guards was whisked away and killed. The other was captured and hanged.

Her funeral was covered on live domestic and international television…

Indira Gandhi funeral

…and she was cremated on November 3rd.

Indira Gandhi being cremated

This is the site of cremation today.

site of Indira Gandhi cremation

The International airport in New Delhi is named after her…

Indira Gandhi airport

…along with the largest university in the world, The Indira Gandhi National Open University.

Indira Gandhi National Open University