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Indira Gandhi: A Biography

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By the time of her brutal assassination in 1984, Indira Gandhi had established herself as the most significant political leader India had seen since the death of her father. In this book Pupul Jayakar uncovers the many personalities that lay hidden within Mrs Gandhi.


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By the time of her brutal assassination in 1984, Indira Gandhi had established herself as the most significant political leader India had seen since the death of her father. In this book Pupul Jayakar uncovers the many personalities that lay hidden within Mrs Gandhi.

30 review for Indira Gandhi: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Reshal Suryawanshi

    18th President of France ,Charles de Gaulle when asked by reporter “What Impression Indira Gandhi made on you?, he replied- “Those Fragile shoulders on which the huge destiny of India rests, and they don’t shrink from the burden.” After reading Katherine frank’s biography on Indira Gandhi I was very much entice to read Pupul Jaykar’s biography on this enigmatic women. Pupul Jayakar had a close relationship with three prime ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv G 18th President of France ,Charles de Gaulle when asked by reporter “What Impression Indira Gandhi made on you?, he replied- “Those Fragile shoulders on which the huge destiny of India rests, and they don’t shrink from the burden.” After reading Katherine frank’s biography on Indira Gandhi I was very much entice to read Pupul Jaykar’s biography on this enigmatic women. Pupul Jayakar had a close relationship with three prime ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi. She later served as cultural adviser to Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, confirming her preeminence in cultural matters. Being a close friend to Indira Gandhi, Jaykar’s biography gives you all the opportunity to peep in Indira’s life and know her like never before. Indira was product of many cultures. Her close association with the freedom struggle and stalwarts of independence movement had molded her life. In many ways she was a reflection of her father’s mind. Her early upbringing and her father’s interest expressed with such limpidity in his letters to her gave her a love of adventure, fearlessness, an inbuilt sense of secular; it also awakened live curiosity and constant search for new frontiers. Her years in England and her association with Feroz Gandhi’s left wing friends, journalists and political thinker had given her a radical thinking. She was a rebel, anti traditional and anti establishment but a natural consciousness kept her away from left commitments. Astrology, prognostication, ritual, superstition have little place in her cautiousness. Her alone year in Leysin had encouraged her to observe, to be silent and let the seasons roll by. But in spite of her early exposure to intellectual and powerful activities, she had lived within the confines of a society, which hemmed her in, gave her little opportunity to reach out, and explore the art or investigate a life of mind. Throughout her political life Indira Gandhi rarely forgot that she was living and creating history, it was a sense her father had transmitted to her. Her ability to make tough choices, take the hard gamble and stand unmoved before the hostile crowd was astonishing. Her charm, her stamina her 1980 comeback, her fortitude when she lost a son-Sanjay, too is recorded. She was an independent woman. She was no one’s and no super powers stooge. Unlike Kathrine Frank ,who shows you personal life of Indira and narrates Indira more as a person involving all close people of Indira Gandhi, Jaykar gives you minute detail of her political life, understanding of her decisions, her transformation from shy and reserved daughter to the ruthless politician. Jaykar accounts very less pages on Ms.Gandhi’s Personal life, she consciously keep it conceal. Book will not disappoint you, rather make you respect Tigress Of India a bit more. Happy Reading!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Raghavendra

    The book provides a great chronology of Indira Gandhi's life - especially her youth. But the author's closeness to Indira leads to limited critical appraisal of Indira's role in the making of modern India and very limited discussion of the policies underlying her (almost) 20 year prime ministership. Worth a read though. The book provides a great chronology of Indira Gandhi's life - especially her youth. But the author's closeness to Indira leads to limited critical appraisal of Indira's role in the making of modern India and very limited discussion of the policies underlying her (almost) 20 year prime ministership. Worth a read though.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Arun Pandiyan

    Ever since I read the biography of P.N. Haksar, who worked as principal secretary of PM Indira Gandhi for a decade, my desire to read about Indira Gandhi intensified further. Jairam Ramesh's account on P.N. Haksar's was about his intertwined life with Indira Gandhi in her personal grief, governance, diplomatic decisions, major policies, speeches and his fallout with her son Sanjay Gandhi. While two other books which focused on the major events which occurred during Indira Gandhi's tenure was Mar Ever since I read the biography of P.N. Haksar, who worked as principal secretary of PM Indira Gandhi for a decade, my desire to read about Indira Gandhi intensified further. Jairam Ramesh's account on P.N. Haksar's was about his intertwined life with Indira Gandhi in her personal grief, governance, diplomatic decisions, major policies, speeches and his fallout with her son Sanjay Gandhi. While two other books which focused on the major events which occurred during Indira Gandhi's tenure was Mark Tully's 'Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's last battle' and Kuldip Nayar's 'Emergency Retold', which almost covered the patches of India's unstable years of democracy. But this book has been written by someone who is considered to be a very close friend of Mrs. G, who later went on to become the cultural advisor under Indira Gandhi's government. In this book, Pupul Jayakar presented a charming chronology of Indira Gandhi's sixty six years of life, starting from her childhood until her assassination in 1984. In brief, the daughter of India's beloved leader, at her age of twelve started her own organization called the 'vanar sena' (army of monkeys), actively involving in the freedom struggle and assisting her father in drafting the resolution, calling for Purna Swaraj aka complete independence in 1930. After a brief period of schooling in Pune and under Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan, Indira traveled extensively across Europe, pursuing her academics in french and history where she met other compatriots like Haksar, V.K. Krishna Menon, etc. Indira's years right after her father's demise are faced with ruthless political turmoil, leading to split in Congress, the imposition of internal emergency and her mistrust with anyone and everyone around her, except Sanjay Gandhi. Learning from her father's mistake of aggressive military policy against China, Indira sought a much more ingenious plan of action in tackling the East Pakistan crisis, further gaining accolades even from her opponents for liberating Bangladesh. Though the author tried to skillfully craft the biography in a diplomatic and benevolent way, the undeniable truth is that the years of emergency and its effects on the Indian people can never be articulated in a polished language, no matter how much one try to portray Mrs. G in a good light. After been thrown out of power, Indira Gandhi laid the chess board in front of her imaging herself as a much weaker pawn who had limited moves and meticulously planned her come back by breaking the Janata government from within, after three years, by subsequently winning from Southern constituencies of Chikmagalur in Karnataka and Medak in Andhra Pradesh. Indira Gandhi's authoritative decision on dismissing the democratically elected Communist government in Kerala or persuading his father to provide asylum to Dalai Lama were the two tales of political naivety in her early years of political career. But, as she navigated through the hard times in politics and life, she grew into an exceptional leader of India, developing solid rapport with global leaders (except for Nixon). As a chairman of Non Alignment Movement (NAM) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indira Gandhi called for unified progress, transcending boundaries and conflicts, stressing on disarmament and economic development. Indira Gandhi dealt with many problems of poverty, drought, famine, sectionalism, the north eastern crisis, incoming refugees, her husband's death in her early life, her son's death at his age of thirty three, the many harassment of opposition and electoral losses. Yet, she stood tall in face of all adversity in a stoic demeanor and courageous attitude. Overall, the author remained neutral throughout her 500 pages, without being judgmental, many a times providing logical reasons for Indira's actions, keeping it intriguing and engaging for the readers, with her simpler language. The years from 1965 to 1985 are crucial in the years of India's history and this book provides detailed insights on events which shaped India's today. However, if I have to assess and summarize Indira Gandhi as a person, I shall remember her own words: "My father was a statesman, I am a political woman. My father was a saint. I am not."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Varun Nayak

    Irrespective of which side of the political spectrum one's loyalties lie, few will disagree that Indira Gandhi is post-independent India's most enigmatic politician. As such, her two most famous biographies (one by Pupul Jaykar and the other by Kathrine Frank) are must reads for all those with an interest in Indian politics/history. Though Pupul, one of Indira's closest associate has been a little biased to her on a handful of occasions, the book isn't really a hagiography, something you should Irrespective of which side of the political spectrum one's loyalties lie, few will disagree that Indira Gandhi is post-independent India's most enigmatic politician. As such, her two most famous biographies (one by Pupul Jaykar and the other by Kathrine Frank) are must reads for all those with an interest in Indian politics/history. Though Pupul, one of Indira's closest associate has been a little biased to her on a handful of occasions, the book isn't really a hagiography, something you should give her credit for. In fact, the author's close association with the late PM has meant that the book is filled with insights that helps readers deconstruct the real 'Indira' from the many myths and conspiracy theories that usually surround her. Indira's actions and the reasons behind them during some of the most important events during her tenure as the PM viz the 1971 Bangladesh War, the Emergency & her triumphant return to power in 1980 and Operation Blue Star are well articulated and detailed. However, the best part of the book for me was Indira's personal life - her early days in Anand Bhawan and her relations with its many inmates, her immense love for her mother, her relationship with Feroze Gandhi and the entire Sanjay fiasco.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Palak Jain

    I am a 90 kid from India. In our high school, it seemed that history of India was over with independence of 1947. I never knew what ensued India after Independence. To me, Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India before I saw 'Pradhanmantari' by Shekhar Kapoor on youtube. That series motivated me to learn about this woman more. In that series, Shekhar Kapoor referenced Pupul book many times when discussing rein of Indira Gandhi. Before that I never cared to know about this woman, her persona I am a 90 kid from India. In our high school, it seemed that history of India was over with independence of 1947. I never knew what ensued India after Independence. To me, Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India before I saw 'Pradhanmantari' by Shekhar Kapoor on youtube. That series motivated me to learn about this woman more. In that series, Shekhar Kapoor referenced Pupul book many times when discussing rein of Indira Gandhi. Before that I never cared to know about this woman, her personality, her contradictions, and her very human life. This book gives a good insight into all those aspects. Since Pupul was her close friend, she maintains her friendship while writing this book also. She doesn't criticize IG but does interrogates her actions and tries to support it with the situations and circumstances that might have existed at that time. In short, I enjoyed reading this book and learnt some important lessons from IG personality. Recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashish Jaituni

    Pupul Jayakar was Indira Gandhi's friend for 30 years. She has written a wonderful book. She draws on her notes of meetings and conversations for this empathetic biography of India's prime minister who was assassinated in 1984. Scanting on political analysis, she offers a vivid, unusually insightful look at the emotional factors that transformed a silent, withdrawn girl into an assured, far-seeing leader who was closely attuned to her country if at times obsessive and arrogant. Indira Gandhi was Pupul Jayakar was Indira Gandhi's friend for 30 years. She has written a wonderful book. She draws on her notes of meetings and conversations for this empathetic biography of India's prime minister who was assassinated in 1984. Scanting on political analysis, she offers a vivid, unusually insightful look at the emotional factors that transformed a silent, withdrawn girl into an assured, far-seeing leader who was closely attuned to her country if at times obsessive and arrogant. Indira Gandhi was prepared for leadership by her father, Jawaharlal Nehru. Pupul Jayakar is especially revealing on Indira's unhappy marriage to Feroze Gandhi, on her key role in freeing East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) from West Pakistan's bloody rule and on her relationship with her sons Sanjay, killed in a plane crash in 1980, and Rajiv, assassinated in 1991. A must read for anyone interested in the knowing more about Indira Gandhi. I heartily recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maneesha Bidkar

    A great insight into the mind and life of a great leader and an extraordinary personality! Pupul Jaykar is a Poet :) The way this biography has been penned, portrayed and the events chronicled, it is a beautiful masterpiece! Even though the backdrop is politics and a corruption laden state of affairs, the way this biography has been woven, keeps one mesmerised and intrigued. The proximity and bond that Mrs Jaykar shared with Mrs Gandhi lends a lot of details into the life of this mystique-woman! A great insight into the mind and life of a great leader and an extraordinary personality! Pupul Jaykar is a Poet :) The way this biography has been penned, portrayed and the events chronicled, it is a beautiful masterpiece! Even though the backdrop is politics and a corruption laden state of affairs, the way this biography has been woven, keeps one mesmerised and intrigued. The proximity and bond that Mrs Jaykar shared with Mrs Gandhi lends a lot of details into the life of this mystique-woman! Yet the book is'nt biased and reveals facts about the iron woman exposing her vulnerable side as well as the tough core and slightly quirky and rough-aournd-the-edges-demeanor. Its a book for keeps!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riddhi Kishnadwala

    I am not much into reading of biographies or political books but this book was a refreshing blend of both. It attempts to bring into light the life of Indira Gandhi without being too critical or too much in favour with her actions. It is the neutral tone that the book takes which works for me. The uncertainty, the political turmoil in India during the sixties and the seventies is well brought out which lead to the subsequent actions of the Prime Minister. It brings out an interesting glimpse of I am not much into reading of biographies or political books but this book was a refreshing blend of both. It attempts to bring into light the life of Indira Gandhi without being too critical or too much in favour with her actions. It is the neutral tone that the book takes which works for me. The uncertainty, the political turmoil in India during the sixties and the seventies is well brought out which lead to the subsequent actions of the Prime Minister. It brings out an interesting glimpse of the various aspects of Indira Gandhi's life and personality which would be hitherto unknown to many. A page-turner of the first rate, it will keep you hooked till the very end!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharang Limaye

    One of the few books that portrays Mrs. Gandhi in a positive light. The author is clearly enamoured of her subject and goes to great lengths to defend the indefensible. However, in the process, she does give the reader a peek into the lady's mind. Mrs. Gandhi's was a truly remarkable life and this book does justice to its complexities. Wish Jaykar had left out references to her own work which at times sound like pluging. One of the few books that portrays Mrs. Gandhi in a positive light. The author is clearly enamoured of her subject and goes to great lengths to defend the indefensible. However, in the process, she does give the reader a peek into the lady's mind. Mrs. Gandhi's was a truly remarkable life and this book does justice to its complexities. Wish Jaykar had left out references to her own work which at times sound like pluging.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sumit Dhamija

    I was four when PM Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security guards. I grew up listening from the elders in my family that if India were to rise above corruption, poverty and a plethora of other problems that plague the country, an audacious Prime Minister like Indira is needed. Apparently, these remarks left in me an awe inspiring image of our late PM. As I finish reading “Indira Gandhi: A Biography” by Pupul Jayakar, I feel overwhelmed with emotions. Wary of politics, I was a I was four when PM Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security guards. I grew up listening from the elders in my family that if India were to rise above corruption, poverty and a plethora of other problems that plague the country, an audacious Prime Minister like Indira is needed. Apparently, these remarks left in me an awe inspiring image of our late PM. As I finish reading “Indira Gandhi: A Biography” by Pupul Jayakar, I feel overwhelmed with emotions. Wary of politics, I was at first reluctant to pick this book (lying in my bookshelf for over two years) up for reading. Jayakar’s special relationship with Mrs. Gandhi gave her a unique insight into her personality. From that vantage point, Pupul paints a magnificent portrait - at once empathetic and unprejudiced - of one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable women. Born in 1917, Indira Gandhi’s life spanned over two-thirds of a century. The narrative of this book demands a special mention and is worthy of admiration. For someone like me who detests politics, reading this book from cover to cover wouldn’t have been possible without Pupul’s gripping narrative that keeps you hooked as if she were telling a bedtime story. Writing about Mrs. Gandhi (in such minute detail) must have been a herculean task yet Pupul does full justice to it. Indira Gandhi had once remarked, ‘Silence and the ability to be not drawn into conflict, are the two most formidable weapons a leader must possess’. Mrs. Gandhi possessed these two weapons and used them with such dexterity that left her opponents guessing (her next move); and often caught them unawares whilst she (in the blink of an eye) executed her action plan. To err is human... is a universal maxim. Leaders no matter how high their stature aren’t immune to making mistakes. Imposing national emergency, relying on her son Sanjay blindfolded (who supervised the forced sterilization under the family planning drive) and Operation Bluestar are some significant events that blotched her political career, and if I may say amassed such high karmic debt, that she had to lay her life to atone herself of these sins (read follies). Nonetheless, leaders like her are seldom born. A day before her assassination, Mrs. Gandhi was in Orissa. Seeing the ocean of people before her, sensing their hopes, their concerns, their joys and their sorrows, a moment of prophecy entered her (as if she knew that her end was near). She had said, ‘I do not care whether I live or not. I have had a long life and if I am proud of anything it is that I spent the whole of my life in service. I am proud only of this and nothing else. And as long as there is breath in me so long will I continue to serve, and when my life goes I can say that every drop of blood that is in me will give life to India and strengthen it’. The doom-swept story of Indira Gandhi and her two sons ended on 21-May-1991, when Rajiv Gandhi, Indira’s elder son, former PM and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, was brutally assassinated at an election meeting to be addressed by him at Sriperumbudur, forty miles away from Madras. I was eleven back then and old enough to feel sad (if not mourn) the death of another charismatic leader.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ajith Ashokkumar (WordShaker)

    Indira Gandhi, Iron lady of India. One of the most powerful leaders the whole world ever witnessed. No such leader alive today in India with such a visionary. Every decision made by Indira, the declaration of emergency, first Nuclear test in India and even the most controversial ‘sterilization’ to reduce the population, everything she did because of her vision to create India a powerful nation. She dreamt of a country without poverty and suffering. The people of India were weary of slogans, they Indira Gandhi, Iron lady of India. One of the most powerful leaders the whole world ever witnessed. No such leader alive today in India with such a visionary. Every decision made by Indira, the declaration of emergency, first Nuclear test in India and even the most controversial ‘sterilization’ to reduce the population, everything she did because of her vision to create India a powerful nation. She dreamt of a country without poverty and suffering. The people of India were weary of slogans, they wanted a government that would provide them jobs and ensure their basic needs at reasonable price. They saw Indira as Goddess Durga who would protect them from demons. And to some extent it was true, she was a Goddess who tried to protect the people of India. But she can’t do anything alone. She needed support, the gruesome power seekers within her party were against the powerful decisions made by Indira. Her life was full of setbacks and sufferings. She witnessed the loss of her near and dear ones, and at last a bunch of bullets scrambled that awesome personality to death.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Borah Khan

    🍁The book presents factual information, and so can't be called a literary delight per se. But it is an important book and sets the reader thinking about our country's poor state of affairs. It will also help to understand the political journey of our country and how our so called leaders have lost their sense of duty and responsibility over the years. The leaders who fought tooth and nail for independence and worked hard to shape it well after independence were truly made of some rare clay altog 🍁The book presents factual information, and so can't be called a literary delight per se. But it is an important book and sets the reader thinking about our country's poor state of affairs. It will also help to understand the political journey of our country and how our so called leaders have lost their sense of duty and responsibility over the years. The leaders who fought tooth and nail for independence and worked hard to shape it well after independence were truly made of some rare clay altogether. 🍁 Politics and leadership were in Indira's blood. Brought up in the background of freedom movement and harsh household, she was an introvert child. From a gawky teenager to a hardly noticeable young adult to an iron-willed politician, hers was indeed an hard and evolutionary journey. Whatever may the critics say, she did really love her country and its people, and lived to protect them both in whatever ways possible. As D K Barooah said, " India is Indira and Indira is India".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shireesh Pareek

    In today's time when people don't leave any stone unturned to defame Indira Gandhi,it becomes a duty to read about her. The book traces the life,time and journey of Indira Gandhi right from her birth till her assassination. The author being very close to the ex Prime Minister,has done a great job. The book throws light on those sides of Indira Gandhi,which are not known to anyone except a few handfuls. For the people who know Indira Gandhi through WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts and other such me In today's time when people don't leave any stone unturned to defame Indira Gandhi,it becomes a duty to read about her. The book traces the life,time and journey of Indira Gandhi right from her birth till her assassination. The author being very close to the ex Prime Minister,has done a great job. The book throws light on those sides of Indira Gandhi,which are not known to anyone except a few handfuls. For the people who know Indira Gandhi through WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts and other such media,this book will be an eye opener. Read this book to know about the lady who took the male dominated arena of Indian politics by storm.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashna

    A comprehensive look into the life of still the only Female Prime Minister of India till date. Written by Pupul Jaykar who was a close friend of Indira and hence got a close look into her life story . It was amazing to read this book since I have always been wanting to read about the emergency and what exactly brought it on . It provided a close look at what exactly entails about being a Prime Minister and the struggles faced by Indira. Her paranoia that she faced in later life, family struggles A comprehensive look into the life of still the only Female Prime Minister of India till date. Written by Pupul Jaykar who was a close friend of Indira and hence got a close look into her life story . It was amazing to read this book since I have always been wanting to read about the emergency and what exactly brought it on . It provided a close look at what exactly entails about being a Prime Minister and the struggles faced by Indira. Her paranoia that she faced in later life, family struggles all are described in the book. All in all a good read if you want to know about what exactly happened in her reign as PM.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vinay Kumar

    The biography reflects the turmoil Indira undergoes in her personal and political life and her fight against all odds. She stands tall among the top leaders of our country just because of her tough decision making which is unlike the political behaviour exists and in the male dominated country. A detailed study on the important events like emergency, east Pakistan war etc. would have been a good offering but is difficult to pull off in a single edition. This is a good biography about Indira Gandhi The biography reflects the turmoil Indira undergoes in her personal and political life and her fight against all odds. She stands tall among the top leaders of our country just because of her tough decision making which is unlike the political behaviour exists and in the male dominated country. A detailed study on the important events like emergency, east Pakistan war etc. would have been a good offering but is difficult to pull off in a single edition. This is a good biography about Indira Gandhi, a honest effort to portray a person without bias as author being in her close circle.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Raj Desai

    Author was Smt. Gandhi's childhood friend and companion in many crisis. Author's views about her somewhat seem biased because of this fact. Tyrannical acts of Indiraji have not been judiciously criticized by author. Definitely, a different side of Indira Gandhi - her relations with Firoz Gandhi, Nehruchacha and her mother Kamlaji have been nicely depicted but issues like horrendous act of imposing emergency and killing democracy by doing so, blunder made by Indiraji in Punjab by creating a Frank Author was Smt. Gandhi's childhood friend and companion in many crisis. Author's views about her somewhat seem biased because of this fact. Tyrannical acts of Indiraji have not been judiciously criticized by author. Definitely, a different side of Indira Gandhi - her relations with Firoz Gandhi, Nehruchacha and her mother Kamlaji have been nicely depicted but issues like horrendous act of imposing emergency and killing democracy by doing so, blunder made by Indiraji in Punjab by creating a Frankenstein's monster-Bhindranwale are not represented properly.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aliya

    From page 1 Indira Gandhi Biography connects to the reader, not just because it is well written because of its timing,placement and historical background of events.The harsh reality that is expose through this biography is that the reaching the peaks of glory and success requires not only determination but a fearless heart and the sense of immense responsibility.Its all about what circumstances demands from us and how we have to interpret them and make a move.And of coarse is a greatest WEAPON.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Prathap Krishnamoorthy

    We get a closer look at the life of Indira Gandhi. But, being her friend, was a bit biased. But, on a positive note, whatever conspiracies we have been hearing about her can be put to rest, as she has watched her in close quarters & has been there at the center of many important incidents. Have heard about other biographies of her. Will have to read that just to compare. All in all, worth a read...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Akshaj

    A remarkably candid opinion on the late Prime Minister. It gives great insight into the inner workings of the mind of Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi. However, one must keep in mind that some parts were (deliberately?) glossed over ,such as the events of the Punjab during the 80s . Overall, definitely worth a read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    K

    The book provides you great insight into the life of Mrs Gandhi. She’s one person whom I don’t get tired of reading. What a power pack woman !!! Plus it also make you know what pathetic childhood she had. She was missing love. And even after her marriage she was torn apart with Nehru and Firoze gandhi and after her husband’s death , she could never wear colours.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Runi

    Hard book to read. Indira Gandhi was an amazing leader, at times ruthless. She cared for the people, the country and the environment.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Parag Dass

    “[Indira] had learnt, perhaps unconsciously, to superimpose her later memories on earlier events and so to create a palimpsest, through which fantasy and fact could interplay.” - Author (p. 14) “I shall seize fate by the throat. It shall never wholly overcome me.” - Jawaharlal Nehru quoting Beethoven (p. 129) “The major crisis was not so much the clash of culture as what to do with violence, not only that which is stored in nuclear arsenals but the growing nihilism and callousness of ordinary peop “[Indira] had learnt, perhaps unconsciously, to superimpose her later memories on earlier events and so to create a palimpsest, through which fantasy and fact could interplay.” - Author (p. 14) “I shall seize fate by the throat. It shall never wholly overcome me.” - Jawaharlal Nehru quoting Beethoven (p. 129) “The major crisis was not so much the clash of culture as what to do with violence, not only that which is stored in nuclear arsenals but the growing nihilism and callousness of ordinary people. Yet the sense of wholeness, of cosmic totality evades human beings, so does the insight that man is a tiny element in the cosmos and that all life and nature are interrelated and no element can isolate itself. [The challenge lay in seeing] whether a person moves inward into the divided self or outward into the divided world, the nightmare of a vast entangled structure closes in, causing alienation and incoherence. There is no sanctity towards life or relation with nature. Goodness is not assumed as a state that is untainted, the flowering of which determines the texture of a culture or a civilisation. The wholeness of the earth can come about only with the wholeness of human beings.” - Indira Gandhi (p. 427-428)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dr.J.G.

    The writer knew her personally, and so we get a window to the life and to some extent the mind of one of the most influential people of last century, Indira Gandhi. (Saturday, September 20, 2008.) There could hardly be a more definitive and closer look at the life of this woman who lived life almost on world stage and yet was mostly a mystery to most people - this book is by one of the few people in her intimate circle, a friend from childhood years. As such she was a rare person who could ask I The writer knew her personally, and so we get a window to the life and to some extent the mind of one of the most influential people of last century, Indira Gandhi. (Saturday, September 20, 2008.) There could hardly be a more definitive and closer look at the life of this woman who lived life almost on world stage and yet was mostly a mystery to most people - this book is by one of the few people in her intimate circle, a friend from childhood years. As such she was a rare person who could ask Indira Gandhi why she took this decision or that, within the limits of decency and civil interaction between friends who care about one another, and get answers too. There are some answers surprisingly admission of sort one does not expect, and in circumstances changed hugely since they are all the more precious as they provide an insight into the lonely person that this strong leader of a democracy with almost a billion people as it then was (since then the billion mark has been crossed and well over), a nation she turned from a laughingstock to one to be reckoned with, or a beginning thereof, with some help from above. Daughter of the most beloved leader of the nation, and yet so lonely in her childhood in the aristocratic setting of the wealthy family that doted on its only son her father who in turn wrote the famous letters to her from his jail sojourn what with the British throwing these guys in and out of jail like so much shifting of grain in a mill. Her ailing mother who approved of her choice of a life partner to take care of the only daughter after her as the father was busy with the nation, the daughter who valiantly turned herself into a helping hand for the father and a formidable leader after him, the admission of her weakness when her one widowed daughter in law was thrown out of the household as soon as the other was brought in when the now aging leader needed her one remaining son to be with her, and more, much more. I read this well over a decade ago, and what with the history of the nation being that of certain parties quietly wiping off records from various places - a censored film that had its prints burnt during the infamous emergency comes to mind as too another where the dialogues were changed to suit the perception commonly held and the image considered desirable - perhaps the admission of weakness might now have been censored or will be so. Hope not, in the interest of the democracy and truth. (Wednesday, September 9, 2009.) I noticed two separate editions and attempting to have a single review brought to notice the recurring September dates including today, September 10, 2010. Wonder why the September mid month recurrence. (Friday, September 10, 2010.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bhanu Upadhyay

    Obviously not the best biography of Indira Gandhi, but the book gives an insight into the mind and thoughts of this strong lady which no-one else than a close friend can give. Pupul, a close friend, whose company Indira sought during her good and tough days and with whom she shared thoughts during all important events of her life has very meticulously written about Indira the person, more than Indira the politician. She has given a first hand experience of Indira's thoughts and her mind during he Obviously not the best biography of Indira Gandhi, but the book gives an insight into the mind and thoughts of this strong lady which no-one else than a close friend can give. Pupul, a close friend, whose company Indira sought during her good and tough days and with whom she shared thoughts during all important events of her life has very meticulously written about Indira the person, more than Indira the politician. She has given a first hand experience of Indira's thoughts and her mind during her various emotional state. Though more emphasis is given on the brighter side of Indira's character (as expected of a close friend writing one's biography), she has very cleverly touched upon all the darker sides of the lady who was responsible for Emergency in the country. "It is not the complete story of Indira Gandhi, but the story of Indira Gandhi is incomplete without it." This book followed by another written by a neutral author will be the best feed to know The first and the only lady Prime Minister of India completely.

  25. 5 out of 5

    A

    I first read it about 3 years ago at the time Mrs.Gandhi was an enigma,this strong formidable woman of her time. When I finished the book, I think I may have changed some of my opinions about her. A lot stayed but she was no longer the 'look up to person'. Although she was a strong commendable leader, she still ran the country with a lot of personal prejudice. A lot of it has been brought to the table from her younger years. The author did provide a lot of insight into the lady's mind but I do li I first read it about 3 years ago at the time Mrs.Gandhi was an enigma,this strong formidable woman of her time. When I finished the book, I think I may have changed some of my opinions about her. A lot stayed but she was no longer the 'look up to person'. Although she was a strong commendable leader, she still ran the country with a lot of personal prejudice. A lot of it has been brought to the table from her younger years. The author did provide a lot of insight into the lady's mind but I do like to think she was biased in her defense. Nevertheless, it is a great biography which does leave the reader with answers to their questions.It was an interesting read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chandar

    Absolute gem! Probably the only person who could be described as 'close' to Mrs G, Pupul Jayakar gives a riveting account of the political history of modern India! Of course, a few minor factual inconsistencies and a genuinely 'sympathetic' view of her subject....but these do not detract from her ability to draw a very real portrait of the person who remains an enigma to historians and the nation. Pupul is honest without being judgemental. Absolute gem! Probably the only person who could be described as 'close' to Mrs G, Pupul Jayakar gives a riveting account of the political history of modern India! Of course, a few minor factual inconsistencies and a genuinely 'sympathetic' view of her subject....but these do not detract from her ability to draw a very real portrait of the person who remains an enigma to historians and the nation. Pupul is honest without being judgemental.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Baidhurya

    The book tells you the complete story of a shy girl who joins politics by accident and goes on to become one of the most powerful lady in the world. The story comes from Pupul Jayakar who was close to Smt. Indira Gandhi gives makes it more credible. She has tried to maintain neutrality in the book but at the same time provided possible logic for some of Indira's actions. The book tells you the complete story of a shy girl who joins politics by accident and goes on to become one of the most powerful lady in the world. The story comes from Pupul Jayakar who was close to Smt. Indira Gandhi gives makes it more credible. She has tried to maintain neutrality in the book but at the same time provided possible logic for some of Indira's actions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Rambling and too long and full of the biographer instead of the subject. I've wanted to read about Indira Gandhi for a while, but I wish I'd had access to a different book. Rambling and too long and full of the biographer instead of the subject. I've wanted to read about Indira Gandhi for a while, but I wish I'd had access to a different book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roopa Prabhu

    Intriguing and engaging chronicle of life and death of Indira Gandhi. An unbiased in your face re accounting of events that unfolded and probable reasoning behind those decisions and actions...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aditi

    The author has given a good insight into the life , mind and thought process of Indira Gandhi. The book portrays Mrs. Gandhi neutrally, without being biased which is a commendable job from author.

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