Indira Gandhi: Iron Lady of India


By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: Youtube

About This Quiz

Indira Gandhi was one of the most powerful women of the 20th century. She wasn't afraid to use the incredible political clout she gathered through the years. How much do you know about this legendary Indian?

In what capacity did Indira Gandhi serve India?

Gandhi did what no other woman (so far) in India's history has ever done. She served as prime minister.


Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Who was he?

Nehru was the country's very first prime minister, elected in 1947. He was exceedingly popular for most of his tenure in politics.


Indira's father was imprisoned for years and as a result, she was sent to boarding school. Where did she take classes?

India wasn't the safest place for Gandhi during her father's prison term. She attended boarding school for a time in Switzerland.


When she was a young child, why was Indira forced to burn her favorite doll?

Gandhi was born in 1917 and raised in a time when Indians wanted independence from Britain. The doll, made in England, had to go.


Indira married Feroze Gandhi, who was related to Mahatma Gandhi, the famous activist.

Feroze wasn't related to Mahatma, who was a huge political force in India. That Indira married into a famous name was just a coincidence.


What was one of Gandhi's first major accomplishments?

Gandhi helped spur on the Green Revolution in India. The revolution vastly improved the country's ability to grow its own food instead of relying on imports.


Indira's election as prime minister was a watershed moment for women worldwide. What year was she elected?

She was elected in 1966. Almost immediately, her politics began veering to the left.


In 1971, Indira sent Indian troops to war with which country?

Pakistan initiated an attack on India, leading to all-out fighting. The war lasted just 13 days but thousands of troops were killed.


India defeated Pakistan in the war. Which country formed as a result?

Gandhi's support of rebels in East Pakistan helped drive Pakistani troops out of the area. The locals created a country called Bangladesh.


Gandhi was often incredibly popular in India. How many times was she elected prime minister?

Her charisma (and her brand name) helped her win election four times. Her fourth term, however, didn't end the way she wanted it to.


Gandhi was elected in 1966. What was her influence like in the years after her election?

Indira was a merciless politician who obtained enormous (and nearly dictator-like) powers at times during her tenure.


During her time as prime minister, Gandhi enforced which policy?

India's high birth rate was considered a potential roadblock to progress. Gandhi and her allies implemented forced sterilizations that were carried out against the population.


Teams of workers even forced boys to be sterilized.

Teams of workers were given quotas and told to sterilize millions of people. Desperate to meet the quotas, they sterilized even young boys.


In 1980, Gandhi won her third term and her son, Sanjay, become prominent in national politics. What happened to him?

Sanjay was probably next in line for prime minister. But in 1980, he was flying a small aircraft that crashed. He died instantly.


In 1975, Gandhi was convicted of what crime?

She stopped at nothing to seize political influence and was convicted of electoral corruption. She was banned from running for office for six years.


What happened to Gandhi after her conviction?

Indira had no plan to go quietly. Following her conviction, she declared a state of emergency that gave her even more power.


In 1975, Gandhi declared a state of emergency, which gave her unprecedented power. How long did the emergency last?

For 21 months she had increased powers thanks to the declared emergency. It allowed Indira to rule by decree.


Many people protested Gandhi's power grab. What did she do to dissenters?

Gandhi didn't like opposition voices. She had dissenters rounded up and hustled into prison without any sort of due process.


The state of emergency became known as what?

The press was censored and political opponents were jailed. During the Reign of Terror, Gandhi acted more like a tyrant than a savior.


In 1978, Gandhi was arrested thanks to manuevering by her political opponents. What did Gandhi's supporters do?

Two of her most fervent (and delusional) supporters hijacked a plane and demanded her release. The plot backfired, but Gandhi eventually won her release following a trial.


Indira was very popular for her first three terms. Why was she then voted out of office?

Gandhi overplayed her hand by trying to implement increasingly authoritarian policies. She was roundly defeated ... but her political career was far from over.


In the late 70s, Indira met British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. How did the two get along?

Both women were powerhouse politicians, and they got along very well. Thatcher attended Gandhi's funeral in spite of death threats.


As a child, Indira formed a "monkey brigade" that did what?

Even as a child she was politically active. Her monkey brigade spied on the police and distributed propaganda supporting Indian independence.


Gandhi was convicted of electoral corruption. She was also charged with what?

In addition to electoral corruption, she was charged with bribery, which would have been an even more serious crime. Fortunately for Gandhi, she was absolved of that charge.


In 1982, Gandhi ordered a police action at a Sikh temple. What was the name of that action?

Operation Blue Star was aimed at putting down a militant revolt but wound up killing many innocent people. The action came back to haunt Indira.


Gandhi was India's first female prime minister. How did she die?

On October 31, 1984, Gandhi was assassinated at her home. She met her end in the garden on her property. The killers were seeking revenge for Operation Blue Star.


Who killed Indira?

She was gunned down by her own bodyguards, one of whom she'd known for more than a decade. They were part of a plot to avenge the victims of Operation Blue Star.


What happened after Gandhi was assassinated?

The murder triggered major anti-Sikh riots. Thousands died as people sought retribution for the killing.


The assassins shot Gandhi just three times.

The killers wanted to make sure that their plot succeeded. They shot the famed politician 30 times.


Following Indira's assassination, who became prime minister?

After his mother was killed, Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister. In 1991, he too was assassinated, but the family is still a potent aspect of Indian politics.


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