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Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister by Sagarika Ghose

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Indira Gandhi is fondly remembered as the Durga who won India its first decisive military victory in centuries and the strong stateswoman who had the courage to look American bullying in the eye and not blink. Equally, she is remembered as the terrible dictator who imposed the Emergency and tried to destroy institutions ranging from her own party to the judiciary; she is seen as the source of many of the problems that afflict Indian democracy today. Even so, for politicians Indira is the very definition of a strong leader, and a role model on both sides of the aisle. In this spellbinding story of her life, journalist Sagarika Ghose has excavated not just Indira the iron lady and political leader but also the flesh-and-blood woman. Born in 1917, Indira soon found her life swept up by Gandhi’s call for freedom and swadeshi. Her family home became a hub of the national movement and Indira marinated in a political environment from an early age. But she also saw politics of another kind. Her sickly mother and she were the target of unkind attacks from her aunts. And her celebrated father, who had no patience for illness, was desperate to sculpt his daughter into his version of perfection – but Indira simply couldn’t keep up with his expectations. Despite Nehru’s disappointment and dismissiveness, Indira rose to become the unquestioned high command of the Congress and, indeed, the most powerful prime minister India has ever had. This no-holds-barred biographical portrait looks for answers to lingering issues: from why Indira revoked the Emergency to her son Sanjay’s curious grip over her; and from her bad marriage and love affairs to her dangerous religious politics. This is the only book you need to read about Indira Gandhi.

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About the Author

Sagarika Ghose is a senior journalist, columnist and broadcaster. She is the author of two novels, The Gin Drinkers and Blind Faith.

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Indira Gandhi is fondly remembered as the Durga who won India its first decisive military victory in centuries and the strong stateswoman who had the courage to look American bullying in the eye and not blink. Equally, she is remembered as the terrible dictator who imposed the Emergency and tried to destroy institutions ranging from her own party to the judiciary; she is seen as the source of many of the problems that afflict Indian democracy today.

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Even so, for politicians Indira is the very definition of a strong leader, and a role model on both sides of the aisle. In this spellbinding story of her life, journalist Sagarika Ghose has excavated not just Indira the iron lady and political leader but also the flesh-and-blood woman. Born in 1917, Indira soon found her life swept up by Gandhi’s call for freedom and swadeshi. Her family home became a hub of the national movement and Indira marinated in a political environment from an early age. But she also saw politics of another kind. Her sickly mother and she were the target of unkind attacks from her aunts.

 

And her celebrated father, who had no patience for illness, was desperate to sculpt his daughter into his version of perfection – but Indira simply couldn’t keep up with his expectations. Despite Nehru’s disappointment and dismissiveness, Indira rose to become the unquestioned high command of the Congress and, indeed, the most powerful prime minister India has ever had. This no-holds-barred biographical portrait looks for answers to lingering issues: from why Indira revoked the Emergency to her son Sanjay’s curious grip over her; and from her bad marriage and love affairs to her dangerous religious politics. This is the only book you need to read about Indira Gandhi.

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