Memories of first woman Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi remain strong and on what would be her 102nd birthday people on social media are remembering what a charismatic lady she was.
Many recalled how she donated her jewels to the country during the 1962 Indo-China war, while others remembered her for her unflinching courage and decisive role in waging war against Pakistan to liberate East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh).
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was the best of PM for all Indians and worst of foe for all enemies.— Mohit (@MischiefInChief) November 19, 2019
Her relentless endeavour to transform India into a major power is something only a Nehru-Gandhi clan could do.
My tributes on her Birth Anniversary 🙏🏻#IndiraGandhi pic.twitter.com/4yYao0yrUl
Current political leaders, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ex-vice president Hamid Ansari, various Congress leaders and the Gandhi family paid tribute to Indira at her memorial Shakti Sthal in New Delhi.
Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, CP Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee & Former Vice President Hamid Ansari attend a commemorative programme to mark Pt. Nehru's birth anniversary. #RememberingNehruji pic.twitter.com/JCB40svCZD— Congress (@INCIndia) November 14, 2019
Priyanka Gandhi, granddaughter of Indira Gandhi and daughter of Congress President Sonia Gandhi made the most of the day by sharing her childhood picture with Indira, saying “In memory of the bravest woman I have known.”
In memory of the bravest woman I have known. #IndiraGandhi— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) November 19, 2019
“In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. pic.twitter.com/ifmXkighYo
सशक्त, समर्थ नेतृत्व और अद्भुत प्रबंधन क्षमता की धनी, भारत को एक सशक्त देश के रूप में, स्थापित करने में अहम भूमिका रखने वाली लौह-महिला और मेरी प्यारी दादी स्व० श्रीमती इंदिरा गांधी जी की जयंती पर शत् शत् नमन।#IndiraGandhi pic.twitter.com/7ezAIsSQ9N— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 19, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tribute to the Indira Gandhi.
Tributes to our former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi Ji on her birth anniversary.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 19, 2019
Netizens also took the opportunity to share “rare” and “unseen” pictures of Indira while remembering her for her journey as leader and how she conquered the male dominated political scene.
My tributes to #IndiraGandhi Ji on her birth Anniversary. Indira ji endured bullets so that terrorism was eradicated & we could sleep in peace, she tore Pak into two pieces. She sacrificed her life to uphold India’s integrity. She was such graceful PM. Had both josh & hosh! pic.twitter.com/I6SotMZRqU— Salman Nizami (@SalmanNizami_) November 19, 2019
Tributes to our #IronLady #IndiraGandhi ji on her birth anniversary . She'll always be remembered for great leadership qualities. She will be remembered for her political intransigency and unprecedented centralisation of power, she is an inspiration to every Indians esply women pic.twitter.com/rtuKhAsXau— RiA D'Souza (@RiaRevealed) November 19, 2019
Smt #IndiraGandhi is an epitome of courage & kindness & one of the biggest Inspirations for the world,who displayed unmatched dedication to eradicate poverty & indomitable spirit to put India on top.— Somen Mitra (@SomenMitraINC) November 19, 2019
My humble tributes to #IndiasIndira on her birth anniversary. pic.twitter.com/09DoIlJpOs
Indira and the 1971 War
Gandhi was more than a strong political personality, she was also a fashion icon with a bouffant hairstyle, make-up and attractive silk saris.
Gandhi is also remembered as a prime minister who "outwitted" US President Richard Nixon during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, which came at the height of the Bangladesh crisis, sparked by the rise of a self-determination movement in then-East Pakistan.
As India declared its support for the establishment of a separate state for Bengalis, the Pakistani air force launched a pre-emptive strike, bombing multiple Indian air bases.
India retaliated with a multi-pronged attack on Dhaka, recognising Bangladesh as an independent nation two days later.
That's when US President Richard Nixon decided to intervene by sending a task force of the US 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal, while a Soviet fleet followed the American warships into the bay, upping the geopolitical stakes.
Nixon branded Indira's move an "aggression" against Pakistan; and days later Pakistani troops surrendered. As the then-US national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, recalled in his memoirs, "Nixon had no time for Mrs Gandhi's condescending manner... he suspected that in pursuit of her purposes she had in fact fewer scruples than he."
Indira served the country from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in 1984, when she was shot by her own bodyguards - a tragedy that sent shockwaves across the nation.
A day before her death, Gandhi made a striking speech saying: ”I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow...I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it.. Even if I died in the service of the nation, I would be proud of it. Every drop of my blood... will contribute to the growth of this nation and to make it strong and dynamic."