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Indira Gandhi: A Biography

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  393 ratings  ·  36 reviews
By the time of her brutal assassination in 1984, Indira Gandhi had established herself as the most significant political leader India had seen since the death of her father. In this book Pupul Jayakar uncovers the many personalities that lay hidden within Mrs Gandhi.
Paperback, 539 pages
Published November 27th 1997 by Penguin Group (first published November 9th 1993)
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Reshal Suryawanshi
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
18th President of France ,Charles de Gaulle when asked by reporter “What Impression Indira Gandhi made on you?, he replied-
“Those Fragile shoulders on which the huge destiny of India rests, and they don’t shrink from the burden.”

After reading Katherine frank’s biography on Indira Gandhi I was very much entice to read Pupul Jaykar’s biography on this enigmatic women. Pupul Jayakar had a close relationship with three prime ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv G
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
The book provides a great chronology of Indira Gandhi's life - especially her youth. But the author's closeness to Indira leads to limited critical appraisal of Indira's role in the making of modern India and very limited discussion of the policies underlying her (almost) 20 year prime ministership. Worth a read though. ...more
Arun Pandiyan
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ever since I read the biography of P.N. Haksar, who worked as principal secretary of PM Indira Gandhi for a decade, my desire to read about Indira Gandhi intensified further. Jairam Ramesh's account on P.N. Haksar's was about his intertwined life with Indira Gandhi in her personal grief, governance, diplomatic decisions, major policies, speeches and his fallout with her son Sanjay Gandhi. While two other books which focused on the major events which occurred during Indira Gandhi's tenure was Mar ...more
Varun Nayak
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Irrespective of which side of the political spectrum one's loyalties lie, few will disagree that Indira Gandhi is post-independent India's most enigmatic politician. As such, her two most famous biographies (one by Pupul Jaykar and the other by Kathrine Frank) are must reads for all those with an interest in Indian politics/history.

Though Pupul, one of Indira's closest associate has been a little biased to her on a handful of occasions, the book isn't really a hagiography, something you should
Palak Jain
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am a 90 kid from India. In our high school, it seemed that history of India was over with independence of 1947. I never knew what ensued India after Independence. To me, Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India before I saw 'Pradhanmantari' by Shekhar Kapoor on youtube. That series motivated me to learn about this woman more. In that series, Shekhar Kapoor referenced Pupul book many times when discussing rein of Indira Gandhi.

Before that I never cared to know about this woman, her persona
Ashish Jaituni
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
Pupul Jayakar was Indira Gandhi's friend for 30 years. She has written a wonderful book. She draws on her notes of meetings and conversations for this empathetic biography of India's prime minister who was assassinated in 1984. Scanting on political analysis, she offers a vivid, unusually insightful look at the emotional factors that transformed a silent, withdrawn girl into an assured, far-seeing leader who was closely attuned to her country if at times obsessive and arrogant. Indira Gandhi was ...more
Maneesha Bidkar
A great insight into the mind and life of a great leader and an extraordinary personality!
Pupul Jaykar is a Poet :) The way this biography has been penned, portrayed and the events chronicled, it is a beautiful masterpiece! Even though the backdrop is politics and a corruption laden state of affairs, the way this biography has been woven, keeps one mesmerised and intrigued. The proximity and bond that Mrs Jaykar shared with Mrs Gandhi lends a lot of details into the life of this mystique-woman!
Riddhi Kishnadwala
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am not much into reading of biographies or political books but this book was a refreshing blend of both. It attempts to bring into light the life of Indira Gandhi without being too critical or too much in favour with her actions. It is the neutral tone that the book takes which works for me. The uncertainty, the political turmoil in India during the sixties and the seventies is well brought out which lead to the subsequent actions of the Prime Minister. It brings out an interesting glimpse of ...more
Sharang Limaye
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
One of the few books that portrays Mrs. Gandhi in a positive light. The author is clearly enamoured of her subject and goes to great lengths to defend the indefensible. However, in the process, she does give the reader a peek into the lady's mind. Mrs. Gandhi's was a truly remarkable life and this book does justice to its complexities. Wish Jaykar had left out references to her own work which at times sound like pluging. ...more
Sumit Dhamija
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was four when PM Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security guards. I grew up listening from the elders in my family that if India were to rise above corruption, poverty and a plethora of other problems that plague the country, an audacious Prime Minister like Indira is needed. Apparently, these remarks left in me an awe inspiring image of our late PM.

As I finish reading “Indira Gandhi: A Biography” by Pupul Jayakar, I feel overwhelmed with emotions. Wary of politics, I was a
Ajith Ashokkumar (WordShaker)
Indira Gandhi, Iron lady of India. One of the most powerful leaders the whole world ever witnessed. No such leader alive today in India with such a visionary. Every decision made by Indira, the declaration of emergency, first Nuclear test in India and even the most controversial ‘sterilization’ to reduce the population, everything she did because of her vision to create India a powerful nation. She dreamt of a country without poverty and suffering.
The people of India were weary of slogans, they
Natasha Borah Khan
Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
🍁The book presents factual information, and so can't be called a literary delight per se. But it is an important book and sets the reader thinking about our country's poor state of affairs. It will also help to understand the political journey of our country and how our so called leaders have lost their sense of duty and responsibility over the years. The leaders who fought tooth and nail for independence and worked hard to shape it well after independence were truly made of some rare clay altog ...more
Shireesh Pareek
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
In today's time when people don't leave any stone unturned to defame Indira Gandhi,it becomes a duty to read about her.
The book traces the life,time and journey of Indira Gandhi right from her birth till her assassination.
The author being very close to the ex Prime Minister,has done a great job. The book throws light on those sides of Indira Gandhi,which are not known to anyone except a few handfuls.
For the people who know Indira Gandhi through WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts and other such me
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
A comprehensive look into the life of still the only Female Prime Minister of India till date. Written by Pupul Jaykar who was a close friend of Indira and hence got a close look into her life story . It was amazing to read this book since I have always been wanting to read about the emergency and what exactly brought it on . It provided a close look at what exactly entails about being a Prime Minister and the struggles faced by Indira. Her paranoia that she faced in later life, family struggles ...more
Vinay Kumar
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The biography reflects the turmoil Indira undergoes in her personal and political life and her fight against all odds. She stands tall among the top leaders of our country just because of her tough decision making which is unlike the political behaviour exists and in the male dominated country.
A detailed study on the important events like emergency, east Pakistan war etc. would have been a good offering but is difficult to pull off in a single edition.
This is a good biography about Indira Gandhi
Raj Desai
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Author was Smt. Gandhi's childhood friend and companion in many crisis. Author's views about her somewhat seem biased because of this fact. Tyrannical acts of Indiraji have not been judiciously criticized by author. Definitely, a different side of Indira Gandhi - her relations with Firoz Gandhi, Nehruchacha and her mother Kamlaji have been nicely depicted but issues like horrendous act of imposing emergency and killing democracy by doing so, blunder made by Indiraji in Punjab by creating a Frank ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
From page 1 Indira Gandhi Biography connects to the reader, not just because it is well written because of its timing,placement and historical background of events.The harsh reality that is expose through this biography is that the reaching the peaks of glory and success requires not only determination but a fearless heart and the sense of immense responsibility.Its all about what circumstances demands from us and how we have to interpret them and make a move.And of coarse is a greatest WEAPON.
Prathap Krishnamoorthy
We get a closer look at the life of Indira Gandhi. But, being her friend, was a bit biased. But, on a positive note, whatever conspiracies we have been hearing about her can be put to rest, as she has watched her in close quarters & has been there at the center of many important incidents.
Have heard about other biographies of her. Will have to read that just to compare. All in all, worth a read...
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A remarkably candid opinion on the late Prime Minister. It gives great insight into the inner workings of the mind of Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi. However, one must keep in mind that some parts were (deliberately?) glossed over ,such as the events of the Punjab during the 80s . Overall, definitely worth a read.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book provides you great insight into the life of Mrs Gandhi. She’s one person whom I don’t get tired of reading. What a power pack woman !!!

Plus it also make you know what pathetic childhood she had. She was missing love. And even after her marriage she was torn apart with Nehru and Firoze gandhi and after her husband’s death , she could never wear colours.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Hard book to read. Indira Gandhi was an amazing leader, at times ruthless. She cared for the people, the country and the environment.
Parag Dass
Apr 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
“[Indira] had learnt, perhaps unconsciously, to superimpose her later memories on earlier events and so to create a palimpsest, through which fantasy and fact could interplay.” - Author (p. 14)

“I shall seize fate by the throat. It shall never wholly overcome me.” - Jawaharlal Nehru quoting Beethoven (p. 129)

“The major crisis was not so much the clash of culture as what to do with violence, not only that which is stored in nuclear arsenals but the growing nihilism and callousness of ordinary peop
The writer knew her personally, and so we get a window to the life and to some extent the mind of one of the most influential people of last century, Indira Gandhi.

(Saturday, September 20, 2008.)

There could hardly be a more definitive and closer look at the life of this woman who lived life almost on world stage and yet was mostly a mystery to most people - this book is by one of the few people in her intimate circle, a friend from childhood years. As such she was a rare person who could ask I
Bhanu Upadhyay
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Obviously not the best biography of Indira Gandhi, but the book gives an insight into the mind and thoughts of this strong lady which no-one else than a close friend can give.

Pupul, a close friend, whose company Indira sought during her good and tough days and with whom she shared thoughts during all important events of her life has very meticulously written about Indira the person, more than Indira the politician. She has given a first hand experience of Indira's thoughts and her mind during he
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general
I first read it about 3 years ago at the time Mrs.Gandhi was an enigma,this strong formidable woman of her time. When I finished the book, I think I may have changed some of my opinions about her. A lot stayed but she was no longer the 'look up to person'. Although she was a strong commendable leader, she still ran the country with a lot of personal prejudice. A lot of it has been brought to the table from her younger years.

The author did provide a lot of insight into the lady's mind but I do li
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolute gem! Probably the only person who could be described as 'close' to Mrs G, Pupul Jayakar gives a riveting account of the political history of modern India! Of course, a few minor factual inconsistencies and a genuinely 'sympathetic' view of her subject....but these do not detract from her ability to draw a very real portrait of the person who remains an enigma to historians and the nation. Pupul is honest without being judgemental. ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book tells you the complete story of a shy girl who joins politics by accident and goes on to become one of the most powerful lady in the world. The story comes from Pupul Jayakar who was close to Smt. Indira Gandhi gives makes it more credible. She has tried to maintain neutrality in the book but at the same time provided possible logic for some of Indira's actions. ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Rambling and too long and full of the biographer instead of the subject. I've wanted to read about Indira Gandhi for a while, but I wish I'd had access to a different book. ...more
Roopa Prabhu
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing and engaging chronicle of life and death of Indira Gandhi. An unbiased in your face re accounting of events that unfolded and probable reasoning behind those decisions and actions...
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author has given a good insight into the life , mind and thought process of Indira Gandhi. The book portrays Mrs. Gandhi neutrally, without being biased which is a commendable job from author.
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