Name at birth: Indira Priyadarshini
Indira Gandhi was the prime minister of India from 1966-77 and 1980-84 and one of the most famous women in 20th century politics. Her father was Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India's first prime minister (1947-64), and Indira spent her life amid Indian politics. In 1959 she was elected to the presidency of the Indian National Congress, and in 1964 she was elected to the parliament. When Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died in 1966, Gandhi was chosen as a compromise candidate to replace him. She was elected to the office in 1967 and advanced an ambitious program of modernization. In 1975 she was convicted of violations stemming from the 1971 election and the High Court ordered her to resign. Instead she declared a state of emergency and clamped down on her opposition (the conviction was later overturned). She lost the election of 1977 and was out of office until a comeback in 1980, when she was again elected to be prime minister. In 1984 she used the military to suppress Sikh rebels and ordered an attack on a Sikh shrine in Amritsar; a few months later, Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh conspirators.
She was married to Feroze Gandhi (1942-60) and had two sons. Her son Sanjay Gandhi (1946-80) was a controversial figure in her government before he was killed in an airplane crash, and her son Rajiv Gandhi (1944-91) succeeded her as India’s prime minister in 1984. Rajiv was killed in a 1991 bombing.