Biography of Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi Biography
Date of Birth: 20 August 1944
Place of Birth: Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra
Parents: Feroze Gandhi (Father) and Indira Gandhi (Mother)
Wife: Sonia Gandhi
Children: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Education: Doon School, Dehradun; Trinity College, Cambridge, England
Political Association: Indian National Congress
Political Ideology: Right-winged; Liberal
Religious views: Hinduism
Publications: Rajiv’s World: Photographs by Rajiv Gandhi (1995)
Death: 21 May 1991
Place of Death: Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu
Memorial: Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu
Rajiv Gandhi was born into one of the most prominent families in politics in India. He was the third generation of his family to be the President of India following his maternal grandfather Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and mother Smt. Indira Gandhi. He was India’s youngest prime minister India at 40 years old. The development projects undertaken under his leadership included a re-evaluation of the nation’s education policy and significant development of the telecom industry. Rajiv Gandhi was also regarded as one of India’s most controversial Prime Ministers because he participated in the Bofors scandal, which cost the country about Rs. 640 million. His relentless efforts to thwart the LTTE in Sri Lanka led to his unfortunate assassination by the terrorist group in Sriperambudur in the year 1991. He was presented with the Bharat Ratna, India’s most prestigious civilian honor, after his death in the year 1991.
Early Life and Education
Rajiv Gandhi was born on August 20, 1944, into India’s most prestigious political dynasty, the Nehru-Gandhi family. The mother of his father, Indira Gandhi was the first and only woman Premier of India. Feroze Gandhi, who was a prominent part of the Indian National Congress and the editor of The National Herald newspaper, was his father. Rajiv Gandhi initially attended the Welham Boys’ Academy and then went on to the prestigious Doon School in Dehradun. Then, he moved to the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge University. Rajiv came across Sonia Maino (later Sonia Gandhi) from Italy at Cambridge University. After his return to his time in the United Kingdom, Rajiv Gandhi showed little passion for politics and turned to become an expert pilot. Later, he worked for Indian Airlines, as a pilot.
Rajiv was not inclined to follow the tradition of his family and become a politician. He was the younger brother of Sanjay Gandhi, who had been trained to assume the helm of the legacy in politics. However, Sanjay’s death after a plane crash changed the destiny of Rajiv Gandhi. The most senior leaders of the Indian National Congress party approached Rajiv Gandhi to convince him to become a politician, however, Rajiv was not interested and declared “no” to them. Their wife of his, Sonia Gandhi, also was adamant about Rajiv’s choice he would not be a politician. However, after repeated requests by his mom Indira Gandhi, the decision was made to run. The decision was widely criticized by a lot of the press and public as well as by the opposition. They saw the entry of Nehru-Gandhi scion into politics as a forced hereditary participation. In the short period of being elected the Member of Parliament for Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajiv Gandhi gained significant party influence and was a key advisor to his mother’s politics. In addition, he was appointed director of communications for the All-India Congress Committee and subsequently was elected President of the Youth Congress.
Prime Minister of India
After the assassination attempt on Indira Gandhi on the 31st of October 1984, at the hands of the bodyguards of the New Delhi residence, Rajiv Gandhi was elected as the new Prime Minister. It was the Congress Party, riding high after the tragedy, that scored an overwhelming victory in elections that followed the parliamentary elections.
The economic policies enacted by Rajiv Gandhi were distinct from the policies of his predecessors such as Indira Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru. The policies he introduced were based on a more light-footed approach to reforms to the current economic program of the nation that was based on protectionist policies by a Soviet model. These reforms led to more extensive efforts to improve the linearization of the economic system in the year 1991. Another significant decision that was taken during his time as the Prime Minister was the decision to eliminate the quota and license, Raj. He lowered the tax rate on technological industries and changed import policies relating to telecommunications defense, and commercial airlines. He placed a strong emphasis on making use of modern technology across various industries, thus modernizing the industry to draw more foreign investment into the economy.
His efforts to eliminate the “Red Tape” culture that was prevalent in the government’s financial and economic processes intended to promote the creation of the private sector. In 1986 Rajiv Gandhi declared a “national education policy” to improve and expand higher education programs across India. Rajiv Gandhi ushered in a revolution in the sector of information technology as well as telecom. The concept led to the establishment of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, often referred to as MTNL. Rajiv Gandhi was the man to bring telecom services to those living in remote areas of India as “India in the true sense”. As the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi endeavored to eliminate the criminal and corrupt faces of the Indian National Congress party. In the context of his involvement in the Shah Bano case, Rajiv Gandhi’s Government was able to adopt the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights During the Divorce) Act of 1986. This was a change from the ruling of the Supreme Court. The Government’s decision to affirm Islamic laws that were unjust to women led it to appear to be “retrogressive obscurantism for short-term minority populism”.
In opposition to the socialism of the past, Rajiv Gandhi decided to strengthen bilateral relations between India and America. The United States of America later expanded cooperation in science and economics with the United States of America. A new foreign policy focusing on economic liberalization as well as information and technology pushed India toward the West.
As the Premier of India, Gandhi ensured stronger economic relations with India and the United States. He advocated the Gandhian concept of non-violence before the United Nations General Assembly by not joining on the Nuclear Weapon bandwagon and vocalizing for the “Nuclear-Weapon Free and Non-Violent World Order”. He was able to lend a helping to address domestic issues in several of the neighboring nations. In 1988, Maldives was the target of a military coup and sought Rajiv Gandhi’s assistance. He immediately requested the dispatch of his Indian Army in an operation called Cactus. In the Sri Lankan Civil War, Gandhi dispatched his Indian Peace Keeping Force to the country to guard civilians.
On Anti-Sikh Riots Post-election
In a statement on the anti-Sikh riots that occurred following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi said, “‘ When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes”. The comment was widely criticized by both sides of the Congress Party. Some thought that the statement was “provocative” and demanded an apology from the leader. To address the anti-Sikh riots which resulted from the passing of his mother Rajiv Gandhi signed an agreement together with Akali Dal president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on 24 July 1984. The main aspects of the agreement were:
(1) Alongside ex-gratia payments to innocents killed in agitation, or any other incident following 1-8-1982, compensation for property damage will also be compensated.
(2) Every citizen of the nation can enroll as a soldier in the Army and merit will continue to be the primary criterion for selection.
(3) (3) For those who are discharged there will be efforts to help them recover and find work.
The Bofors Scandal was a major dark mark on the public image of Rajiv Gandhi. The Finance Minister at the time, later defense minister, V. P. Singh discovered specifics of corruption that involved the Government as well as Bofors, a Swedish arms firm called Bofors. Bofors was accused of paying the Indian Government millions of dollars, at least 640 million in exchange for contracts for defense contractors for the Defense Department. The agreements were handled by Ottavio Quattrocchi who was the Italian company owner and a long-time friend to members of the Gandhi Family. The top-tier Congress leaders, as well as Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, were involved in the scandal and received kickbacks from Bofors in exchange for winning an offer to supply India’s field howitzer of 155mm (a kind that is an artillery part). While Rajiv Gandhi’s name was removed in 2005 however, the media storm caused by the scandal ultimately resulted in his defeat in the elections of 1989.
In 1987 in 1987, the Indian Peace Keeping Force was created to stop the Sri Lankan Civil War between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military. The actions of the Indian military force were opposed by the Opposition parties in Sri Lanka as well as the LTTE. However, Rajiv Gandhi refused to remove the IPKF. It also proved to not be well-liked in India, especially in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was discovered that the IPKF operation cost more than 1100 Indian soldiers and an expense of more than Rs 2000 crores. The general feeling of hatred against Rajiv Gandhi that was prevalent within Sri Lanka was evident when an honor guard Vijitha Rohana attempted to injure Gandhi by hitting him with a gun on the 30th of July in 1987. Gandhi was present in Colombo to make the Indo-Sri-Lanka Accord which was supposed to settle the conflicts that resulted from conflict during the Civil War.
21 May 1991, while walking to the podium, Rajiv Gandhi was garlanded by a large number of Congress fans and people who wished him well. In the evening, around 10:00 pm, an assassin was greeted by him and sat down to kiss his feet. She then detonated the RDX explosive-laden belt that was strapped to her waist belt. The violence was said to be executed in the name of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a response to the involvement of the Indian Peace-keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.
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