Government and Politics

Mahatma Gandhi

Was Indira Gandhi related to Mohandas Gandhi?

No, the two were not related, except by events. After India achieved independence in 1947, the country’s first prime minister was Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), who had been a follower of Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948), the great leader of India’s long struggle for autonomy from Great Britain. During his entire tenure (1947–64) as leader of India, Nehru was assisted by his only child, Indira (1917–1984), who in 1942 married a man named Feroze Gandhi—of no relation to Mohandas Gandhi. Indira Gandhi took an active role in India’s national affairs. After her father died, she went on to become prime minister in 1966. However, hers was a troubled tenure. Found guilty of employing illegal election practices, Indira Gandhi was ousted by her political opponents in 1977. Determined to return to power, she was re-elected to parliament in 1980 and again served as prime minister until her death in 1984. She was assassinated by two of her own security guards, Sikhs who were motivated by religious reasons. Her son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi (1944–1991), was also assassinated, in 1991.

Mohandas Gandhi (pictured c. 1945) was called “Mahatma,” meaning “great-souled,” by the common people, who viewed him as India’s national and spiritual leader.

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