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A.S.KANG
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This was also a public poll and these can be very easily subverted by Special interest Groups. Remember the farce of Michael Crawford (FRank Spencer) being voted 17th in the Great Britons poll last year !

In about 96 (I think) the annual BBC Radio 4 'Man of the Year' was very obviously subverted by Hindu Nationalists in the UK who en-masse bloc voted for L K Advani (now Dep Prime Minister of india). Advani was a relatively unknown figure in UK national politics at taht time (and remians that way). In those days we was leader of the ultra natinalistic BJP (they have since calmed down a little ) and was a prominent member of the RSS. The Beed was naturally furious and proceded to cancel the result and I believe have scrapped the poll altogether now?

I suspect that Indira's vote as the greatest woman in 1000 years !! is a similar bit of vote banking by eager Congressites in the UK

Aman

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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

Below is a review of the latest indira biography,its available on Amazon.

The BBC poll shows how many indians still hold her in high esteem despite

her diabolical acts.The worlds most evil dictator would have been a more

appropriate category, she may not have won but she would have made the short

list, the very short list.

Even if we leave the Sikh and Kashmir situation's out of the equation(she

is ultimately responsible for both), her 'emergency' leading as it did to

forced sterilisation (23million people) false imprisonment, corruption

of the judiciary amongst other heinous acts shows the woman had little

regard for democracy or the rule of law.

The fact that she is still revered in this way by the majority of indians in

spite of her engineered Sikh genocide speaks volumes about how that country

still views the Sikhs and is a very clear message that we as a community

ignore at our peril.

Gur Fateh

Sukhbir Singh

Indira" by Katherine Frank

Indira Gandhi led the most populous democracy of her time, but finally,

ruthless and paranoid, she couldn't resist the temptation of tyranny.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

By Paul Festa

"March 26, 2002 | Just before assuming the highest office of the world's

most populous democracy, Indira Gandhi entertained a fantasy of escaping

public service by moving to London and becoming an anonymous landlady. After

reading Katherine Frank's new biography of Gandhi, "Indira: The Life of

Indira Nehru Gandhi," one rather wishes that she had, despite the hardship

this would have imposed on Bloomsbury renters.

Gandhi assumed power reluctantly at first, rebuffing those who sought to

draft her into various public roles in favor of serving quietly in the

shadow of her father, the prime minister. But like the teetotaler who, once

alcohol passes his lips for the first time, never draws another sober

breath, Gandhi fought to retain power once she had it -- and with enough

zeal and ruthlessness to reduce the Indian constitution to a pile of

saffron-dyed confetti.

It may help to explain her later antipathy to democratic institutions that

she was born in the cradle of Indian democracy, because Gandhi had to

compete with it for her parents' time and attention. For the most part, she

lost.

She was born in 1917, the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the revolutionary

agitator who would become India's first democratically elected leader when

the country gained its independence from Britain in 1947, and his

consumptive but politically active wife, Kamala. (Indira Gandhi was no

relation to Mohandas, a close friend and mentor of the Nehru family.)

Life in the Nehru household ran on an erratic schedule, with Jawaharlal

being carted off to jail every so often by the British authorities for his

pro-independence activities, and Kamala (in addition to serving a

politically valuable jail stint of her own) trekking off to quack healers

and European health spas in her protracted march toward death from

tuberculosis at the age of 37.

Indira Nehru, despite being a tubercular basket case herself (she's

seriously ill or monumentally depressed about once every 20 pages for the

first third of the book, until the TB cure reaches New Delhi in the late

1950s), married one of her mother's acolytes, Feroze Gandhi. In terms of

both personal and political comity, their marriage compared with other

historically significant events in Indian history, including three wars with

Pakistan and any number of domestic Hindu-Sikh conflagrations.

After years of infidelity, illness and intranuptial political discord, the

charismatic husband and his ambitious wife were for the most part estranged.

However, before Feroze's death from a heart attack at the age of 47, they

managed to produce two sons: Rajiv (who would follow in his mother's

footsteps to serve as India's prime minister, from her assassination in 1984

until his own in 1991) and Sanjay.

It was Nehru's death in 1964 that knocked Gandhi from the sidelines of power

to its pinnacle. She had yet to be popularly elected to any post, but she

had become a force to be reckoned with. She was president of the Indian

National Congress (a political party) and, as a result of traveling

frequently with her father, had become a world-famous personality on a

first-name basis with monarchs, presidents and prime ministers around the

globe. Following the brief and undistinguished interregnum of Lal Bahadur

Shastri -- whom Indira repeatedly upstaged from the vantage point of his

cabinet and her newly appointed seat in the upper house of the Indian

legislature, potentially contributing to his death by heart failure not two

years into his term -- Gandhi was the clear choice to assume power.

The vile, crushing marriage of Gandhi and Indian democracy had a decent

enough honeymoon. In 1971 she led the military victory over U.S.-backed

Pakistan that resulted in the independence of the wracked nation of

Bangladesh. Emerging from this triumph, Gandhi found herself virtually

deified by the Indian people and became, according to a Gallup poll, the

world's most admired person. Considering its geopolitical consequences on

the Indian subcontinent today, her detonation three years later of India's

first nuclear device may or may not qualify to Western readers as a

highlight of her 18 years in office, but the underground explosion certainly

played well in the Punjab.

Gandhi followed up those victories with electoral landslides in which her

markedly socialist policies helped rally the poor -- her natural

constituency -- to the polls in large numbers. But trouble loomed on the

horizon in the form of what today might be called a vast right-wing

conspiracy against her. Capitalizing on some minor elections infractions she

committed, Gandhi's political and judicial enemies nearly succeeded in

wresting power from her.

But they might as well have tried to part a lit pipe from an armed crack

whore. The picture that emerges most vividly of Gandhi at this juncture, and

for the rest of her political life, is one of an addict yearning for the

more serene life that awaits her if she can only quit her drug but

frantic -- and ruthless -- the moment its withdrawal is threatened.

Alternatively, and more kindly, you could view her as a classic tragic hero

out of Shakespeare or Sophocles. Proud, paranoid and perpetually wounded

(like her nemesis Richard Nixon), Gandhi clung to power so tenaciously and

with so few scruples that she laid the groundwork for her most precipitous

falls -- including her final one into the murderous hands of her own

bodyguards.

Her favored son, Sanjay, plotted out the Machiavellian schemes executed in

her name. Gandhi's closest and most corrupt advisor, he plays a composite of

Goneril, Iago and Lady Macbeth to Gandhi's increasingly myopic and

manipulated crypto-monarch. (As one participant in the events reflected, his

death in a 1980 plane crash was as lucky for India as it was unlucky for

Indira.) But even setting aside Sanjay's criminal associations and tactics,

his fraudulent business enterprises and dictatorial leanings, his mother's

political character emerges as one increasingly hostile to the democratic

values that inspired the men and women who brought her, and an independent

India, into the world.

Consider the dismal two years of Gandhi's Emergency, her end-run around the

enemies who nearly ousted her on the elections charges: Hundreds of

thousands were jailed for dissent, with nearly two dozen deaths from

desperate conditions in overcrowded prisons. Some were tortured. As many as

23 million Indian men were sterilized under Sanjay's coercive

population-control scheme, and many thousands were rendered homeless by his

"beautification" program of bulldozing slums. Meanwhile the domestic press

was muzzled, the foreign press was expelled, the world's largest democracy

went without elections and the courts and the constitution were all but

disemboweled.

Or consider her cynical practice, late in her life as her paranoia

intensified, of playing her enemies off one another for her own political

advantage -- even at the cost of letting bloody religious conflicts,

including the one that inspired her assassination, play out until they had

spiraled out of control.

With friends like Gandhi, India's democratic institutions, its impoverished

masses and victims of religious intolerance hardly needed enemies.

Without delving too deeply in the shadowy realm of psychobiography,

Katherine Frank identifies formative experiences and childhood wounds that

help explain the paranoia and near-megalomania that would characterize

Gandhi at crucial junctures in her career.

But she is too forgiving by half in analyzing Gandhi's thirst for power.

Gandhi's problem, Frank writes, is that the Indian prime minister believed

that only she was capable of leading her nation. That is a charitable view,

suggesting that Gandhi had a high opinion of her own capabilities and a low

one of her opponents'.

A more illuminating analysis of Gandhi's relationship to power might suggest

that her proximity to it gradually stripped her of everything else in her

life. She devoted everything to her father and his career, and he only grew

away from her. With her parents' deaths, her husband's abandonment and

death, her son's death, a creeping alienation from her few close friends and

finally a permanent estrangement from her daughter-in-law and grandson,

Gandhi (her left eye twitching furiously) ultimately wound up with one fix,

one rush, one companion. She didn't even drink. All that was left to her was

power -- that, and the adulation of multitudes, the greatest multitude a

democratically elected leader had ever served.

Even as she ached for the normality and peace of private life, the woman

dubbed Empress Indira by admirers and critics alike could not bear to be

parted from her crown. India suffered for it no less than did Indira. To the

extent that Gandhi failed to produce lasting solutions to India's chronic

woes -- religious tensions and the now-nuclear-charged conflict with

Pakistan over Kashmir -- and to the degree that she sought to preserve her

own power by playing politics with those incendiary situations, India, along

with the rest of us, is still suffering for her shortcomings.

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