Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank

A review by Rohini Verma

Every October 31st brings back the memory of a strong leader – Indira Gandhi. This was the time to visit few pages of history. This chance was given by the famous book – Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank. It was on October 31, 1984, when she walked through her garden, smiling, with palms pressed together in namaste greeting. That was the tragic time when she was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards.

There are exquisite details in this well-researched book.This book is rich and exhaustingly dramatic from start to finish. There are so many unknown facts that are brought to light by this book. The book explains in detail the story of Indira turning in to a leader from being a nervous and under-confident child.

The book tells fascinating stories likeJawaharlal insisted that Indira had to run long distances every day and with grace. He told her what to wear, to read, and to think. The book also deeply explains the flaws of Indira as a person. The tough decisions like the forced sterilisation programmes of 1976 made her infamous. She also took the step against democracy and imposed emergency in India. She violated the principles that her father stood for.

Another dimension of Nehru family is brought to light – that is poor treatment given to Indira’s mother – Kamala Nehru. Jawaharlal’s sisters treated her badly all of her age, even when she was sick with TB. The book tells howIndira loved her mother intensely and was worried whenever she was left alone with her in-laws, especially when Nehru was in prison.

Indira’s confidence got a jolt when Nehru’s sister called her ‘ugly and stupid’.  The book also contains many personal photographs. The book provides details about operation Blue Star and eventual killing of Indira by her own bodyguards. The book is a very interesting read if one wants to know the iron lady of India.

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