Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Review - Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi


Indira – The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi

by Katherine Frank

(2001), 567 p.

The 500-plus pages of this biography are barely enough to contain the complex ambiguities of Indira Gandhi’s personality – not to mention the flaws and merits of her leadership. Few single accounts, however, could better Ms. Frank’s in terms of historical accuracy; and the dexterity with which the individual identity is juxtaposed with the political persona is worthy of praise.

While initially dealing with Indira’s early life, her shortcomings and emotional desires, what evolves is the story of a woman consumed utterly by the quest for power and the loneliness it breeds. The drama of Indira’s four terms as prime minister mirrors the hope of the independence struggle and the unfulfilled dreams of a new nation struggling to come to terms with itself.

But it is this sense of being “tied to history” which so deluded Indira, leading inevitably to the petty personalisation of Indian politics and the culture of sycophancy which pervaded until her dramatic assassination in 1984. A remarkable insight into a life little understood.


  1. I have a huge gap in my knowledge about Indian politics. I wish there was large document I could read on the subject, something between 20 000 and 25 000 words. If you have anything lying around, please post up a link to the google document. I would really appreciate it.

  2. I'll see if I can bang something together. Maybe I'll do some research this weekend and bang out a few tens of thousands of words.