Home » Blog » my best essay » Topic: The effect Russia had on India while Indira Gandhi was in power


Indira Gandhi, was selected India’s Prime Minister in 1966 after the preceding Premier, Shastri demised due to a a heart attack. Shastri had succeded Indira Gandhi’s father, Nehru Gandhi, who had held the reign for a considerably long tenure. In his tenure, the preceding Premier was under
siege for three notably crises; sprawling food shortage, India’s was with Pakistan over Kashmir and civil unrests of violent anti-Hindi protests. At the time of his untimely death, Premier Shastri had had just signed the Tashkent Declaration brokered by Soviet Union; the declaration demanded for a cease fire and removal of troops from Kashmir. The crises did not end with Shastri’s death and Premier Indira Gandhi was bombarded with a series of crises too. She attempted to send India to high scales of economic growth, fought to remain in power and finally assassinated while still in power.

Indira Gandhi was selected by the Congress to became the Prime Minister in 1966 after the sudden demise of Premier Shastri from a heart attack. At the time of appointment, she was a cabinet minister foe Information and Broadcasting. The Congress found it fit to appoint her since they needed someone who would be widely accepted considering she was the only heir of the former long time ruler Nehru Gandhi. She inherited the premiership with all the escalating problems India was going through at that period. At the onset of the troubles, the Congress and other politicians thought she could not handle the power and some hoped she would resign and leave the position to some ‘capable.’ She proved everyone wrong with the power she oozed and the strength she held onto power. the decisions she made and the lengths at which she went to silence any discomfort raised by her style of rule and governance. (Heitzman & Worden, 1995)

When she took over the Premiership, there were tribal wars sprawling at the northeast of India, poverty was escalating at the same time the rupee was being devalued and among the Punjab, there was utter discontent with the linguistic and religious separatism. In an attempt to eradicate poverty, Premier Indira set a ceiling on the personal income, private property and corporate profits. She also nationalized majority of the banks and introduced reformed policies on land. These actions were not well received by the Congress who in 1969, expelled her on grounds of indiscipline. At the time of her appointment, her only opponent was one Desai, Morarji, who felt that she was not fit for the position. At the initialization of these stern steps in
policies and legislation, there were disgruntlement in the Congress with formations of factions; Congress Organization, non-supporters and Congress Indira. Her other supporters were the Sikhs, Communists and other regional parties. (Mukherjee 2010)

She stood for a re-election in 1971 in which she retained her seat and continued her premiership as well as her fierce fight to eliminate poverty. In 1971 after the victorious war over Kashmir, Indira made another decision that did not augur well with her critics; she declared that all refugees of about 10 million from Bangladesh should be sent back home. India was in an economic crisis and she could not come to terms with the costs of feeding the 10 million Bangladesh refugees. She became power hungry and frequently reshuffled her cabinet and governmental positions if the office holders criticized or attempted to censure her thus eliciting loyalty from cabinet ministers and premier appointees. for fear of losing a position. Her style of power could not curb the problems that skyrocketed in India, for instance, the economic crisis that had been caused by the 1971 war, the world oil prices between 1973 and 1974 as well as the drop in the out put of the industrial production. Civil workers strikes also characterized the headaches that Premier Indira continued to receive and she thus resorted to a dictatorial rule. Any civil employee participating in strikes was locked in jails. parliament passed a no-confidence censure motion on her as the Allahabad High Court issued a writ that nullified her 1971 election.

Undeterred by all these turn out of events, the premier called for a state of Emergency where she suspended all government civil rights and jailed most if not all of her opponents. She enrolled the help of her son, Sanjay Gandhi, who took over the role of watching the Emergency. During this
period, women from poor backgrounds were forcefully sterilized in an effort to reduce population growth and poverty. Slums were demolished and any ‘disobedient’ civil employee had his wages frozen or jailed. This was the state of affair until 1977 when Premier Indira relaxed the Emergency, set an election date and had all her opponents released from jail. (The Economist 1990)

Consequently in 1971, Premier Indira signed the twenty-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with the Soviet Union at a time when the ties between India and the United States had deteriorated. India non-alignment made it easier for a relation with the Soviet Union who stepped in to broker a way out of the Kashmir violence between India and Pakistan. Before Indira’s premiership tenure, the ties between India and the Soviet Union, as was previously known, were not strong since the Soviet Union presumed India to be imitating more of American system. On visit to Russia by premier Nehru and General Khruschev of Russia to India, the two countries forged a friendship relationship which saw the Soviet Union back up India in the Kashmir war against Pakistan. The Soviet Union also sided with India on their position on Goa against Portugal on the integration of Goa into India and giving it a statehood title later. (Zickel 1989)

Russia became India’s largest contributor towards its development especially in its industrial growth. Contribution was also exercised by the investment of the Soviet in India’s public sector. Russia took upon them the technical training of India’s personnel, supply of raw materials, and a market for India’s productions out put. In fact, Russia accepted the devalued Rupee in exchange of its military arms and supplies. The relationship between the two states became more intimate with the signing of the controversial twenty-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Co-operation, under Preemie Indira. The Treaty under Articles 8, 9, and 10 stipulated that neither party shall offer assistance to any nation that engaged in conflict with the
other, they vowed allegiance to each other. When Indira was sending away the 10 million Bangladesh refugees, Russia aided her stance (critics found this position as one that disregarded basic human rights) and the Soviet Union gave her more military supplies to fight the wars with
Pakistan. (Zickel 1989)

On the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Indira openly vowed not refrain from condemning the invasion but with the visit by General Brezchen and holding a private talks with her, Indira seemed to have changed her position. (Heitzman & Worden, 1995) During the Emergency state, there are reports that indicate the financing and supply of military weapons and resources that Indira received from the Soviet Union that helped her
maintain her rule in India and silence her opponents as well as her critics. After the relaxation of Emergency in 1977, her former core opponent from the time of appointment to premiership, Desai Morarji won the election but his tenure did not last long as the wrangles and countries
problems were too much for him and so he resigned in 1979 before a motion of no-confidence could be passed. Russia was not happy with the turn of political reign in India as Desai was considered as not being pro-Russian. In fact Russia became uncertain as to the position it will
hold under the new premier. In his 1960 visit to Moscow, General Khruschev had on a light note hinted that Desai was an enemy of communism and was it would be great if he walked pout to see how ‘the devils’, being the Russians, lived. In his visit as India’s premier, he turned down the
tea he was offered by Brezhnev, by saying that he had stopped taking tea for about fourty years.

Thus it was joyous for them when Desai relinquished his premiership tenure. The next premier, Singh Chaudhury C., did not last either due to old age and what was considered inefficiencies and thus a new election date was announced in 1980. Indira Gandhi campaigned profusely and recaptured the seat again. Critics aver that this campaign was heavily funded by the soviet Union. (Menon 1978)
When General Brezhnev passed away in 1982, Indira declared a three day mourning period in which she remarked at how a great friend had been lost, a principled leader who was there at India during its hours of need and assisted India without conditions. Indira visited Russia to hold
talks with the Brezhnev successor to ensure that the relationship between the two countries remained intact. (Mastny 2010)

Her major first set back on return of power was the demise of her son Sanjay who died from an aircraft accident in 1980. She deployed the military forces in settlement of domestic violence in the civil unrests in Punjab and in the northeastern region. In May 1984, some extremists of the Sikh background took control of the Golden Temple in the Amritsar, which they converted as their terrorism den. Promptly, premier Indira launched what was referred to as Operation Bluestar which was funded by the Soviet Union. The launched attack on the Sikh extremists left hundreds of soldiers, insurgents and civilians dead, or wounded. Unfortunately, she undermined the threat posed by her Sikh bodyguards who assassinated her in the same year, 1984, on October 31. A three-day riot engulfed the city of New Delhi and other parts of India in the wake of her assassination where several thousands of Sikhs were killed. (Heitzman & Worden, 1995)

The relationship between the Soviet Union and India was amidst the Cold War and as much as the two parties seemed to have different values, there was some communism in India’s running of affairs. The communists in Russia did not want to be accountable to anyone and this style of rule is evident in the way Premier Indira ran her government. She made decisions she felt pleased with and second guessing or any one seeking her accountability, she silenced in the way she felt deem. The change of political dynasties in both countries affected each other; in the first
phase of the relationship, there was the rout with China, the next phase ended with the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the third phase was with the demise of the Soviet Union.(Mastny 2010) The partnership was rejuvenated again with the coming to power of Rajiv Gandhi, Indira’s other son, whose campaign is said to have been heavily funded by the KGB. Rajiv visited Moscow and re-initiated another agreement that closed ties with the two countries. Just like the mother, Rajiv was also assassinated. (The Economist 2010)

The Soviet Union entered into the relations with India so as to counter the hold of U.S. in Asia where the U.S. was trying to forge an alliance with Pakistan. With Russia’s help in the war over Kashmir, India decided to reciprocate by voting against the UN resolution that sought to condemn the USSR for her role in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising. The relationship between the Soviet Union and china was also deteriorating especially after China rejected a proposal for a joint submarine fleet thus backing out of a nuclear program assistance to China. In reciprocation, India also eliminated the common border it shared with China and offered asylum to the Tibetian leader, Dalai lama. China became a common enemy of both the Soviet Union and India. (Mastny 2010) Russia influenced India’s recognition of the Cambodian government that had been formed under the Vietnamese army who had received backing from the Soviet Union. This took place at a time when Indira was trying to amend India relations with China; the recognition of the Cambodian government under Vietnamese army angered China and tapered the weak relationship. (The Economist 2010)

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