Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi

1 . Biography

Born: August 20, 1944
Martyrdom: May 21, 1991
Achievements: Became Prime Minister of India at the age of 40. Led Congress to its greatest victory in the Lok Sabha elections, winning about 80 per cent of seats. Played a key role in the introduction of computers in India.Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India. He became Prime Minister at the age of 40. Rajiv Gandhi came from a family that had great political lineage. He was the eldest son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi. Her mother Indira Gandhi and grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru were Prime Ministers of India. As a Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made a valuable contribution in modernizing Indian administration. He had the vision and foresight to see that information technology will play a key role in the 21 century and worked actively to develop Indias capacity in this realm.Rajiv Gandhi was born on August 20, 1944 in Bombay (Mumbai) in Indias most famous political family. His grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru played a stellar role in Indias freedom struggle and became independent Indias first Prime Minister. His parents lived separately and Rajiv Gandhi was raised at his grandfathers home where her mother lived. Rajeev Gandhi did his schooling from the elite Doon school and then studied at the University of London and at Trinity College, Cambridge in Britain. At Cambridge, Rajiv Ghandi met and fell in love with an Italian student Sonia Maino and they got married in 1969.

Returning to India, Rajeev Ghandi became a commercial airline pilot. His younger brother Sanjay Gandhi entered politics and became a trusted lieutenant of her mother Indira Gandhi. After Sanjays death in a plane crash in 1980, Rajiv reluctantly entered politics at the instance of his mother. He won his first Lok Sabha election in 1981 from Amethithe erstwhile constituency of his brother. Soon he became the General Secretary of the Congress Party. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984 he became the Prime Minister of India at the age of 40. He called for general elections in 1984 and riding on a massive sympathy wave led Congress to a thumping victory. Congress garnered 80 percent of the seats in the lower house and achieved its greatest victory since independence.In his initial days as Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was immensely popular. During his tenure as Prime Minister of India, he brought a certain dynamism to the premiership, which had always been occupied by older people. He is credited with promoting the introduction of computers in India. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi began leading in a direction significantly different from Indira Gandhis socialism. He improved bilateral relations with the United States and expanded economic and scientific cooperation. He increased government support for science and technology and associated industries, and reduced import quotas, taxes and tariffs on technologybased industries, especially computers, airlines, defence and telecommunications. He worked towards reducing the red tape in the governance and freeing administration from bureaucratic tangles. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi announced a national education policy to modernize and expand higher education programs across India.

Rajiv Gandhi authorised an extensive police and army campaign against the militants in Punjab. Rajivs government suffered a major setback when its efforts to broker peace between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE rebels backfired. As per the peace accords signed in 1987, the LTTE would disarm to the Indian Peace Keeping Force which was sent to Sri Lanka. But distrust and a few incidents of conflict broke out into open fighting between the LTTE militants and Indian soldiers. Over a thousand Indian soldiers were killed, and at last Rajiv Gandhi had to pull out Indian forces from Sri Lanka. It was a failure of Rajivs diplomacy.Although Rajeev Gandhi promised to end corruption, he and his party were themselves implicated in corruption scandals. The major scandal being Bofors Gun scandal involving alleged payoffs by the Swedish Bofors arms company. The scandal rapidly eroded his popularity and he lost the next general elections held in 1989. A coalition comprising government came to the power but it could not last its full term and general elections were called in 1991. While campaigning for elections in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 by a suicide bomber belonging to LTTE.

2 . Contribution

Rajiv Gandhi was one of the popular Prime Ministers of India. The developmental projects launched by him include the national education policy and expansion of telecom sector. Besides his achievement and subsequent popularity, Rajiv Gandhi also emerged as one of Indias controversial Prime Ministers. He was allegedly involved in the Bofors scandal worth Rs 640 million.

3 . Early Life

Rajiv Gandhi was born on 20 August 1944, into the countrys eminent political dynasty the NehruGandhi family. His mother Indira Gandhi was the first and the only woman Prime Minister of India. Feroze, a key member of the Indian National Congress became the editor of The National Herald newspaper founded by Motilal Nehru in Allahabad.Rajiv Gandhi initially attended the Welham Boys School and subsequently sent to the elite Doon School in Dehradun. Later, he went to the United Kingdom to study at the Cambridge University. It was here in Cambridge University, young Rajiv met Sonia Maino (later Sonia Gandhi) from Italy. After his return from the United Kingdom, Rajiv Gandhi exhibited least interest in the politics and focused onto becoming a professional pilot. He, later, worked for Indian Airlines, as a pilot.

4 . His Brother

Unlike Rajiv, his younger brother had developed an interest and knowledge in the subjects of public administration and political developments. Although he had not been elected, Sanjay began exercising his influence with police officers, highlevel government officers and even the Cabinet Ministers. Many senior ministers, as a protest against Sanjay Gandhi, resigned from office. Sanjay, gradually promoted as a close political advisor to Indira Gandhi. On June 23, 1980, Sanjay Gandhi died in an air crash in Delhi.

5 . Entry into politics

After the death of his brother Sanjay, the senior members of the Indian National Congress party approached Rajiv Gandhi, in order to persuade him joining politics. But, Rajiv was reluctant about joining and said no to them. His wife, Sonia Gandhi, also stood by Rajivs stand of not entering into politics. But after constant request from his mother Indira Gandhi, he decided to contest. His entry was criticized by many in the press, public and opposition political parties. They saw the entry of NehruGandhi scion into politics as a forcedhereditaryparticipation. Within a few months of his election as a Member of Parliament, Rajiv Gandhi acquired significant party influence and became an important political advisor to his mother. He was also elected as the general secretary of the AllIndia Congress Committee and subsequently became the president of the Youth Congress.

6 . Achievements

As Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi endeavored to eliminate the corrupt and criminal faces within the Indian National Congress party. To deal with the antiSikh agitation, that followed the death of his mother, Rajiv Gandhi signed an accord with Akali Dal president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, on 24 July, 1985. The key points of the pact were:

Along with exgratia payment to those innocent killed in agitation or any action after 1 81982, compensation for property damaged will also be paid.

All citizens of the country have the right to enroll in the Army and merit will remain the criterion for selection.For all those discharged, efforts will be made to rehabilitate and provide gainful employment.

7 . Revived Policies

The economic policies adopted by Rajiv Gandhi were different from his precursors like Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Going, against the traditional socialism, Rajiv Gandhi decided to improve the bilateral relationships with the United States of America and subsequently expanded the economic and scientific cooperation with it. A revived foreign policy, emphasizing on the economic liberalization and information and technology moved India closer to the West.His introductory measures to reduce the Red Tapism and allow business house to set up their establishments was remarkable. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi announced a national education policy to modernize and expand higher education programs across India. Rajiv Gandhi brought a revolution in the field of information technology and telecom. The idea helped in originating the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, popularly known as MTNL. Rajiv Gandhi was the man to transcend telecom services to the rural India or India in true sense.

8 . Controversies

While commenting on the antiSikh riots, that followed the assassination of India Gandhi in Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi said, When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes. The statement was widely criticized both within and outside the Congress Party. Many viewed the statement as provocative and demanded an apology from him. Beside, Rajiv Gandhis name had also surfaced in the major controversies like Bofors and the formation of Indian Peace Keeping Force.

9 . Bofors Case

The infamous Bofors scandal that still haunts the political walls of the country was exposed during Rajiv Gandhis reign. A strong corruption racket involving many stalwarts of the Congress Party was unearthed in the 1980s. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India and several others prominent leaders were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors for winning a bid to supply Indias 155 mm field howitzer (a type of artillery piece).

10 . IPKF

In 1987, the Indian Peace Keeping Force was formed to end the Sri Lankan Civil War between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military. The acts of the military contingent was opposed by the Opposition parties of Sri Lanka and as well as LTTE. But, Rajiv Gandhi refused to withdraw the IPKF. The idea also turned out to be unpopular in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. The IPKF operation cost over 1100 Indian soldiers lives and cost over 2000 crores.