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Indira Gandhi's Personal Style & Leadership

Indira Gandhi's stunning defeat in India's national election of March 1977 seemed to be a conclusive rejection of her leadership by the Indian electorate. What was even more stunning was her return to power in the election of January 1980. This research examines the personal style and leadership qualities of Indira Gandhi that could account for this unusual train of events.

The rule of Indira Gandhi originally stemmed from popular reverence to a family dynasty. The Gandhi dynasty began in 1947 when British military forces finally withdrew their occupation of India. The father of Indira, Jawaharlal Nehru, stood as a politician of great stature. He was charismatic, possessed tactical skills, exhibited stubborn but nonviolent resistance to British rule, and befriended the legendary spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi (no relation to Indira). Nehru became the first Prime Minister of independent India in 1947. He continued to lead India until his death in 1964. Nehru acquired legendary status himself and was widely admired among the Indian populace (Klieman, 1981, pp. 240-243).

Nehru was educated in England at Harrow and Cambridge, where he learned and adopted the principles of Fabian socialism. The Fabian doctrine regards equality as the highest of all principles. Accordingly, society should be organized in a manner that maximizes equality of opportunity. In economics, that translates into a moderate form of socialism; in politics, it means democracy. He was dedicated to secular parliamentary democracy for India and nonalignment abroad. Under Nehru's leadership, his Congress party dominated all levels of national government, winning three straight parliamentary majorities between 1952 and 1962, and ushering in an era of unity to an otherwise ethnically diverse nation.

Indira Gandhi assumed leadership of the Congress party and government shortly after Nehru died of a stroke. Her style of leadership rapidly confounded ...

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Indira Gandhi's Personal Style & Leadership. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:11, February 26, 2017, from