While remembering the Iron Lady of India, Late Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary today, the nation salutes her for giv- ing real meaning, content and pride to the unity of the nation and ultimately achieving martyrdom at the altar of national unity. This is despite the fact that the period of emergency imposed during her rule is considered as the darkest period in the history of Independent India. Her determination and mettle can be well gauged from the fact that as the prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984, Indira Gandhi rose to become the greatest PM of India beyond any doubt. Her impact at the global level for keeping those who envied India at bay is evidenced by the fact that the Richard Nixon at one stage called her a witch and a clever fox.
Coming back to power after remaining out of power for some time was no less achievement for her as well as her party. During her campaigning people across the nation especially in remote and far flung areas saw her as an incarnation of Mother Goddess so much so that even a renowned artist painted her as Durga. Mrs.
Gandhi was a game-changer so far as domestic legisla- tions and actions were concerned. Her visionary approach to foreign policy that led to a series of suc- cesses was unprecedented. She created history by lib- erating Bangladesh thus eliminating the Pak pressure on eastern front of India. Moreover the people of erst- while East Pakistan Ban heaved a sigh of relief after attaining freedom from the clutches of Pakistan. Last but not the least the surrender of Pak General Niazi along- with unprecedented number of Pak troops continues to be one of India’s great achievements right from 1947 till date. On signing a Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union, which had a provision that any attack on either country will be construed as an attack on the other she asserted that foreign policy is meant to serve the nation and not to confine itself to definitions. This remark came after she was accused of having drifted away from the principle of non- alignment. The credit of broadening the concept of nonalignment in order to have the freedom to choose friends and allies, undoubtedly goes to her. It would not be wrong to state that it was right after libera- tion of Bangladesh that India became a dominant power in South Asia for the first time. Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan which made the UN resolu- tions on Kashmir redundant in itself speaks of her deft diplomatic skills. While her decision to conduct a peace- ful nuclear explosion in 1974 offended the Soviets with the Americans also turning down her request for a nuclear umbrella in return for signing the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty, it left no scope for them to protest or impose sanctions. It was this Iron Lady who paved the way for the declaration of India as a de facto nuclear weapon state in 1998 by Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Moreover her ability to anticipate global developments and to take precautionary positions can be best judged from her decision to go to Stockholm to attend an envi- ronment conference in 1972 where she was the only prime minister other than the host to attend the confer- ence, as against more than a hundred global leaders who went to Rio in 1992. This proves that she had sensed that the Stockholm conference was the begin- ning of an effort to usher in environmental colonialism.
She saw how the West, having unscrupulously engaged in conspicuous consumption of the resources of the earth, was planning to deny development to the devel- oping countries. It would be injustice not to mention the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 to obtain consul- tative status for India a measure taken by Indira Gandhi aimed at making Antarctica a common heritage of mankind. Undoubtedly Indira Gandhi fearlessly protect- ed and promoted Indian interests by tactfully using the astute diplomatic abilities from time to time in the inter- national arena that ultimately paved the way for the immense strength that India enjoys today.