11:09 GMT29 July 2021
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Known for her iron resolve, Indira was famous for taking unconventional decisions including going to war with Pakistan over Bangladesh and challenging societal norms by marrying Feroze Gandhi, a Parsi by religion.

    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).

    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.

    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.” 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tribute to the Indira Gandhi.

    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.

    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."


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