Called an iron lady, and cursed as ‘that Bi*ch who suckered us’ by Nixon the then President of the US, Indira Gandhi as a leader displayed a courage betting any super power. She was born on 19 November 1917.
There can be endless debates over her often-authoritarian ways, imposition of emergency but they get eclipsed with her decisive win over Bangladesh war despite provocations by the US Seventh fleet, and her graceful withdrawal after liberating the war-torn country.
India was a hotbed of espionage activities of several foreign powers, but she kept it completely under wraps when ‘ India detonated the first nuclear device at Pokhran code named ‘Smiling Buddha’ on 18 May 1974, ironically on Buddha Jayanti day.
I watched her mesmeric, in one of her speeches in Paris in fluent French to a spell bound audience, who considered India as a Russian puppet and were preparing their discomforting questions, only to be deftly handled by a highly-seasoned statesman.
She died from the bullets sprayed into her body by her bodyguards, meant to protect her with their lives instead on 31 October 1984.
History is a matter of records, to be altered and amended severally to suit the successive regimes and it is no surprise that from deification she is vilified as well. Regardless, she lived and died as a great leader and catapulted India to heights, which neither her father Nehru and son Rajiv, both former Prime Ministers could achieve.