Indira Gandhi: Symbol of Ills of Indian Politics
Today (November 19) is the birth anniversery of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India.
I have a few observations to make on this occasion.
Indira Gandhi took a strong position and truly owns the credit for creation of Bangladesh. When uncontrolled migration of people from East Bangladesh started increasing, she took this as an opportunity to draw the global attention to this hazard for India. RAW was given free hand to infiltrate in East Bangladesh to turn the tide against Pakistan and when the time for military operations became ripe, she let the army do the rest.
Understandably the Indo-Pak war for in Eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh) did not please the US. She did not fear the super-power at that time and created the course that was in favor of her own country (India). Even her open distaste for the then US President Nixon was truly daring and remarkable. Despite the convictions that the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had, President Nixon just hated the lady as well as our country. However, Indira Gandhi was not to be put down too! The 1971 meeting between president Nixon and Indian PM Indira Gandhi was a “classical dialogue of the deaf” as Henry kissinger sensed.
But Indira’s legacy to India is unfortunately full of ills. Her regimen was a watershed in Indian politics where the preceding era was characterized by men of integrity serving the nation (at least they were not corrupt), like Nehru, Patel, Shastri and many more. She initiated the systematic indulgence of corruption in politics and governance and centralized power around her, belittling the concept of intra-party democracy. The country continues to suffer from these phenomena till today.
She took socialist economic model to a further height, thereby delaying the liberalization of economy (and the consequences are easy to understand). The nationalization of banks, increasing Inspector -License-Raj are her gifts to the nation, further increasing the state-control on markets, thereby hampering the growth. She was a deeply corrupt politician and was so insecure within Congress party that she ultimately led to her own party. The undemocratic elevation of Sanjay Gandhi was harbinger of family -politics on Indian political landscape. Punjab terrorism was her own creation, but I am happy to note that she crushed it with an iron hand when it went overboard. And who can forget the Emergency!
Note: Nov 19,1835 was coincidentally the birth day of LakshiBai, the Rani of Jhansi! I shall leave it to the readers to indulge in the pleasure of comparison!