prime minister of india

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Prime Minister Of India

The PM of India is the Head of the Union Government, as distinct from the President of India.
1. Jawaharlal Nehru
Period- August 15, 1947 to May 27, 1964

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was born in Allabahad on November 14, 1889. He received his early education at home under private tutors. At the age of fifteen, he went to England and after two years at Harrow, joined Cambridge University where he took his tripos in Natural Sciences. He was later called to the Bar from Inner Temple. He returned to India in 1912 and plunged straight into politics. Even as a student, he had been interested in the struggle of all nations who suffered under foreign domination. He took keen interest in the Sinn Fein Movement in Ireland. In India, he was inevitably drawn into the struggle for independence.

In 1912, he attended the Bankipore Congress as a delegate, and became Secretary of the Home Rule League, Allahabad in 1919. In 1916 he had his first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi and felt immensely inspired by him. He organised the first Kisan March in Pratapgarh District of Uttar Pradesh in 1920. He was twice imprisoned in connection with the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-22.

Pt. Nehru became the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee in September 1923. He toured Italy, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany and Russia in 1926. In Belgium, he attended the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels as an official delegate of the Indian National Congress. He also attended the tenth anniversary celebrations of the October Socialist Revolution in Moscow in 1927. Earlier, in 1926, at the Madras Congress, Nehru had been instrumental in committing the Congress to the goal of Independence. While leading a procession against the Simon commission, he was lathi-charged in Lucknow in 1928. On August 29, 1928 he attended the All-Party Congress and was one of the signatories to the Nehru Report on Indian Constitutional Reform, named after his father Shri Motilal Nehru. The same year, he also founded the 'Independence for India League', which advocated complete severance of the British connection with India, and became its General Secretary.

In 1929, Pt. Nehru was elected President of the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress, where complete independence for the country was adopted as the goal. He was imprisoned several times during 1930-35 in connection with the Salt Satyagraha and other movements launched by the Congress. He completed his 'Autobiography' in Almora Jail on February 14, 1935. After release, he flew to Switzerland to see his ailing wife and visited London in February-March, 1936. He also visited Spain in July 1938, when the country was in the throws of Civil War. Just before the court-break of the Second World War, he visited China too.

On October 31, 1940 Pt. Nehru was arrested for offering individual Satyagraha to protest against India's forced participation in war. He was released along with the other leaders in December 1941. On August 7, 1942 Pt. Nehru moved the historic 'Quit India' resolution at the A.I.C.C. session in Bombay. On August 8,1942 he was arrested along with other leaders and taken to Ahmednagar Fort. This was his longest and also his last detention. In all, he suffered imprisonment nine times. After his release in January 1945, he organized legal defence for those officers and men of the INA charged with treason. In March 1946, Pt. Nehru toured South East Asia. He was elected President of the Congress for the fourth time on July 6, 1946 and again for three more terms from 1951 to 1954.

2. Lal Bahadur Shastri
Period- June 9, 1964 to January 11, 1966

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1901 at Mughalsarai, a small railway town seven miles from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a school teacher who died when Lal Bahadur Shastri was only a year and half old. His mother, still in her twenties, took her three children to her father's house and settled down there.

Lal Bahadur's small town schooling was not remarkable in any way but he had a happy enough childhood despite the poverty that dogged him.

He was sent to live with an uncle in Varanasi so that he could go to high school. Nanhe, or 'little one' as he was called at home, walked many miles to school without shoes, even when the streets burned in the summer's heat.

As he grew up, Lal Bahadur Shastri became more and more interested in the country's struggle for freedom from foreign yoke. He was greatly impressed by Mahatma Gandhi's denunciation of Indian Princes for their support of British rule in India. Lal Bahadur Sashtri was only eleven at the time, but the process that was end day to catapult him to the national stage had already begun in his mind.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was sixteen when Gandhiji called upon his countrymen to join the Non-Cooperation Movement. He decided at once to give up his studies in response to the Mahatma's call. The decision shattered his mother's hopes. The family could not dissuade him from what they thought was a disastrous course of action. But Lal Bahadur had made up his mind. All those who were close to him knew that he would never change his mind once it was made up, for behind his soft exterior was the firmness of a rock.

Lal Bahadur Shastri joined the Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi, one of the many national institutions set up in defiance of the British rule. There, he came under the influence of the greatest intellectuals, and nationalists of the country. 'Shastri' was the bachelor's degree awarded to him by the Vidya Peeth but has stuck in the minds of the people as part of his name.

In 1927, he got married. His wife, Lalita Devi, came from Mirzapur, near his home town. The wedding was traditional in all senses but one. A spinning wheel and a few yards of handspun cloth was all the dowry. The bridegroom would accept nothing more.

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi marched to the sea beach at Dandi and broke the imperial salt law. The symbolic gesture set the whole country ablaze. Lal Bahadur Shastri threw himself into the struggle for freedom with feverish energy. He led many defiant campaigns and spent a total of seven years in British jails. It was in the fire of this struggle that his steel was tempered and he grew into maturity.

When the Congress came to power after Independence, the sterling worth of the apparently meek and unassuming Lal Bahadur Shastri had already been recognised by the leader of the national struggle. When the Congress Government was formed in 1946, this 'little dynamo of a man' was called upon to play a constructive role in the governance of the country. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in his home State of Uttar Pradesh and soon rose to the position of Home Minister. His capacity for hard work and his efficiency became a byeword in Uttar Pradesh. He moved to New Delhi in 1951 and held several portfolios in the Union Cabinet - Minister for Railways; Minister for Transport and Communications; Minister for Commerce and Industry; Home Minister; and during Nehru's illness Minister without portfolio. He was growing in stature constantly. He resigned his post as Minister for Railways because he felt responsible for a railway accident in which many lives were lost. The unprecedented gesture was greatly appreciated by Parliament and the country. The then Prime Minister, Pt. Nehru, speaking in Parliament on the incident, extolled Lal Bahadur Shastri's integrity and high ideals. He said he was accepting the resignation because it would set an example in constitutional propriety and not because Lal Bahadur Shastri was in any way responsible for what had happened. Replying to the long debate on the Railway accident, Lal Bahadur Shastri said; """"Perhaps due to my being small in size and soft of tongue, people are apt to believe that I am not able to be very firm. Though not physically strong, I think I am internally not so weak.

In between his Ministerial assignments, he continued to lavish his organising abilities on the affairs of the Congress Party. The landslide successes of the Party in the General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 were in a very large measure the result of his complete identification with the cause and his organisational genius.

More than thirty years of dedicated service were behind Lal Bahadur Shastri. In the course of this period, he came to be known as a man of great integrity and competence. Humble, tolerant, with great inner strength and resoluteness, he was a man of the people who understood their language. He was also a man of vision who led the country towards progress. Lal Bahadur Shastri was deeply influenced by the political teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Hard work is equal to prayer, he once said, in accents profoundly reminiscent of his Master. In the direct tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri represented the best in Indian culture.

3. Gulzari Lal Nanda
Period- January 11, 1966 to January 24, 1966 And January 11, 1966 to January 24, 1966

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

Born on July 4, 1898, in Sialkot (Punjab), Shri Gulzarilal Nanda was educated at Lahore, Agra and Allahabad. He worked as a research scholar on labour problems at the University of Allahabad (1920-1921) and became Professor of Economics at the National College (Bombay) in 1921. He joined the Non-Cooperation Movement the same year. In 1922, he become Secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association in which he worked until 1946. He was imprisoned for Satyagraha in 1932, and again from 1942 to 44.

Shri Nanda was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in 1937 and was Parliamentary Secretary (Labour and Excise) to the Government of Bombay from 1937 to 1939. Later, as Labour Minister of the Bombay Government (1946-50), he successfully piloted the Labour Disputes Bill in the State Assembly. He served as Trustee, Kasturba Memorial Trust; Secretary, Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh; and Chairman, Bombay Housing Board. He was also a Member of the National Planning Committee. He was largely instrumental in organising the Indian National Trade Union Congress and later became its President.

In 1947, he went to Geneva as a Government delegate to the International Labour Conference. He worked on the 'The Freedom of Association Committee' appointed by the Conference and visited Sweden, France, Switzerland, Belgium and England to study labour and housing conditions in those countries.

In March 1950, he joined the Planning Commission as its Vice-Chairman. In September the following year, he was appointed Planning Minister in the Union Government. In addition, he was also given charge of the portfolios of Irrigation and Power. He was elected to the House of the People from Bombay in the general elections of 1952 and was re-appointed Minister for Planning Irrigation and Power. He led the Indian Delegation to the Plan Consultative Committee held at Singapore in 1955, and the International Labour Conference held at Geneva in 1959.

Shri Nanda was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1957 general elections, and was appointed Union Minister for Labour and Employment and Planning and, later, as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He visited the Federal Republic of Germany Yugoslavia and Austria in 1959.

He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1962 general elections from Sabarkantha Constituency in Gujarat. He initiated the Congress Forum for Socialist Action in 1962. He was Union Minister for Labour and Employment in 1962 and 1963 and Minister for Home Affairs from 1963 to 1966.

Following the death of Pt. Nehru, he was a sworn in as Prime Minister of India on May 27, 1964. Again on January 11, 1966, he was sworn in as Prime Minister following the death of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent.

4. Indira Gandhi
Period- January 24, 1966 to March 24, 1977 and January 14, 1980 to October 31, 1984

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

Born on November 19, 1917 in an illustrious family, Smt. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Being academically inclined, she studied at Ecole Nouvelle, Bex (Switzerland), Ecole Internationale, Geneva, Pupils' Own School, Poona and Bombay, Badminton School, Bristol, Vishwa Bharati, Shantiniketan and Somerville College, Oxford. She was conferred Honorary doctoral degree by a host of Universities such as Andhra, Agra, Bangalore, Vikram, Punjab, Gurukul, Nagpur, Jamia Milia, Poona, El Salvador of Buenos Aires, Waseda of Tokyo, Moscow State, Oxford, Charles of Prague, Mauritius, Baghdad and the U.S.S.R. With an impressive academic background she also got the Citation of Distinction from the Columbia University. Smt. Indira Gandhi was actively involved in the freedom struggle. In her early childhood she founded the Bal Charkha Sangh and in 1930, the 'Vanar Sena' of children to help the Congress party during the Non-Cooperation Movement. She was imprisoned in September 1942, and worked in riot-affected areas of Delhi in 1947 under Gandhiji's guidance.

She got married to Feroze Gandhi on March 26, 1942 and had two sons.

Smt. Gandhiwas a Member, Congress Working Committee and Central Election of the party in 1955; Member, Central Parliamentary Board of Congress, 1958; Chairperson, National Integration Council of A.I.C.C.; President, All India Youth Congress, 1956 and Women's Dept. A.I.C.C.; President, Indian National Congress, 1959-60; and Indian National Congress from January 1978.

From 1964 to 66 she was the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. Then she held the highest office as the Prime Minister of India from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 14, 1980. Concurrently, she was the Minister for Atomic Energy from September 1967 to March 1977; and Minister for Space from June 1972 to March 1977, and from January 1980 was Chairperson, Planning Commission. From 1966-1977 she was the President of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; and Chairperson, Hindi Salahkar Samiti. She held the additional charge of the Ministry of External Affairs from September 5, 1967 to February 14, 1969; Ministry of Finance from July 16, 1969 to June 26, 1970; Ministry of Home Affairs from June 1970 to November 1973; Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from March 1971 for a while; and Ministry of Defence from January 1980.

Smt. Indira Gandhi was associated with a large number of organisations and institutions, some of which are: President, Board of Trustees of Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital; Trustee, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust; Chairperson, Swaraj Bhavan Trust; Founder and Chairperson, Bal Sahyog, New Delhi in 1954; Chairperson, Bal Bhavan Board and Children's National Museum, New Delhi in 1955; Founder and President, Kamala Nehru Vidyalaya, Allahabad; Vice Chairperson, Central Social Welfare Board, 1953-57; Life-Patron, Indian Council for Child Welfare; Vice-President, International Council of Child Welfare; Patron-in-chief, Indian Council for Affairs, 1960; Patron, Foreign Students Association in India. She was Chancellor Visva Bharati University; Jawaharlal Nehru University and North-Eastern University 1966-77; Member, Delhi University Court; Indian Delegation to UNESCO, 1960-64; Member, Executive Board of UNESCO, 1960-64; Member, National Defence Council 1962; Executive Committee of National Defence Fund, 1962; Chairperson, Citizen's Central Council 1962; and Sangeet Natak Academy 1965-74. She was also a Member, National Integration Council; President, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Society and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; Patron, Indian Society of International Law.

After having held such important positions, she also became a Member, Rajya Sabha, August 1964-February 1967; Member, Fourth Lok Sabha 1967-71; Fifth Lok Sabha 1971-77; and Sixth Lok Sabha during November-December 1978. She was elected to the Seventh Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli (U.P.) and Medak (Andhra Pradesh), January 1980. She chose to retain the Medak seat and relinquished the Rae Bareli seat. She was chosen as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1967-77 and for the Congress Parliamentary Party from January 1980.

She found recreation in whatever she did and equal relaxation in being close to nature, in different forms of art, in physical activities like hiking in the mountains, or even reading about an unfamiliar subject.

Interested in a wide array of subjects, she viewed life as an integrated process, where activities and interests are different facets of the whole, not separated into compartments or labeled under different heads.

She had many achievements to her credit. She was the recipient of Bharat Ratna, 1972; Mexican Academy Award for Liberation of Bangladesh 1972; 2nd Annual Medal, FAO, 1973; Sahitya Vachaspati (Hindi) by Nagari Pracharini Sabha, 1976. She also received Mothers' Award, U.S.A., 1953; Islbella d'Este Award of Italy for outstanding work in diplomacy, Yale University's Howland Memorial Prize; for two consecutive years in 1967 and 1968 was the woman most admired by the French according to a poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion. According to a special Gallup Poll Survey in U.S.A. in 1971 she was the most admired person of the world and Diploma of Honour was conferred by the Argentine Society in 1971 for the Protection of Animals.

Her famous publications are The Years of Challenge 1966-69; The Years of Endeavour 1969-72; India (London) 1975; Inde (Lausanne) 1979 and numerous other collection of speeches and writings. She travelled widely in India and all over the world, paid official visits to many countries such as: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, Egypt, France, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, U.A.E., the United Kingdom, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and United Nations Headquarters.

5. Morarji Desai
Period- March 24, 1977 to July 28, 1979

Political party - Janata Party

Shri Morarji Desai was born on February 29, 1896 in Bhadeli village, now in the Bulsar district of Gujarat. His father was a school teacher and a strict disciplinarian. From his childhood, young Morarji learnt from his father the value of hard work and truthfulness under all circumstances. He was educated St. Busar High School and passed his matriculation examination. After graduating from the Wilson Civil Service of the then Bombay Province in 1918, he served as a Deputy Collector for twelve years.

In 1930, when India was in the midst of the freedom struggle launched by Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Desai, having lost his confidence in the British sense of justice, decided to resign from Government service and to plunge into the struggle. It was a hard decision to take but Shri Desai felt that 'when it was a question of the independence of the country, problems relating to family occupied a subordinate position'.

Shri Desai was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle. He became a Member of the All India Congress Committee in 1931 and was Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee untill 1937.

When the first Congress Government assumed office in 1937 Shri Desai became Minister for Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Co-operatives in the Ministry headed by Shri B.G. Kher in the then Bombay Province. The Congress Ministries went out of office in 1939 in protest against India involvement in the World War without the consent of the people.

Shri Desai was detained in the individual Satyagraha launched by Mahatma Gandhi, released in October, 1941 and detained again in August, 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement. He was released in 1945. After the elections to the State Assemblies in 1946, he became the Minister for Home and Revenue in Bombay. During his tenure, Shri Desai launched a number of far-reaching reforms in land revenue by providing security tenancy rights leading to the 'land to the tiller' proposition. In police administration, he pulled down the barrier between the people and the police, and the police administration was made more responsive to the needs of the people in the protection of life and property. In 1952, he became the Chief Minister of Bombay.

According to him, unless the poor and the under privileged living in villages and towns enjoy a decent standard of life, the talk of socialism will not have much meaning. Shri Desai gave concrete expression to his anxiety by enacting progressive legislations to ameliorate to the hardships of peasants and tenants. In this, Shri Desai's Government was far ahead of any other State in the country. And what was more, he implemented the legislation with an unswerving sincerity earning wide reputation for his administration in Bombay.

After the reorganisation of the States, Shri Desai joined the Union Cabinet as Minister for Commerce and Industry on November 14, 1956. Later, he took the Finance portfolio on March 22, 1958.

Shri Desai translated into action what he had professed in matters of economic planning and fiscal administration. In order to meet the needs of defense and development, he raised large revenues, reduced wasteful expenditure and promoted austerity in Government expenditure on administration. He kept deficit financing very low by enforcing financial discipline. He brought curbs on extravagant living of the privileged section of society.

In 1963, he resigned from the Union Cabinet under the Kamraj Plan. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, who succeeded Pt. Nehru as Prime Minister, pursuaded him to become Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission for restructuring the administrative system. His long and varied experienced of public life stood him in good stead in his task.

In 1967, Shri Desai joined Smt. Indira Gandhi's cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of Finance. In July, 1969, Smt. Gandhi took away the Finance portfolio from him. While Shri Desai conceded that the Prime Minister has the prerogative to change the portfolios of colleagues, he felt that his self-respect had been hurt as even the common courtesy of consulting him had not shown by Smt. Gandhi. He, therefore, felt he had no alternative but to resign as Deputy Prime Minister of India.

When the Congress Party split in 1969, Shri Desai remained with the Organisation Congress. He continued to take a leading part the opposition. He was re-elected to Parliament in 1971. In 1975, he went on an indefinite fast on the question of holding elections to the Gujarat Assembly which had been dissolved. As a result of his fast, elections were held in June, 1975. The Janata Front formed by the four opposition parties and Independents supported by it, secured an absolute majority in the new House. After the judgement of the Allahabad High Court declaring Smt. Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha null and void, Shri Desai felt that in keeping with democratic principles, Smt. Gandhi should have submitted her resignation.

Shri Desai was arrested and detained on June 26, 1975, when Emergency was declared. He was kept in solitary confinement and was released on January 18, 1977, a little before the decision to hold elections to the Lok Sabha was announced. He campaigned vigorously throughout the length and breadth of the country and was largely instrumental in achieving the re-sounding victory of the Janata Party in the General Elections held in March, 1977 for the Sixth Lok Sabha. Shri Desai was himself selected to the Lok Sabha from the Surat Constituency in Gujarat. He was later unanimously elected as Leader of the Janata Party in Parliament and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on March 24, 1977.

Shri Desai and Gujraben were married in 1911. Of their five children, one daughter and a son are surviving.

As Prime Minister, Shri Desai was keen that the people of India must be helped to become fearless to an extent where even if the highest in the land commits a wrong, the humblest should be able to point it out to him. """"No one, not even the Prime Minister"""", he was repeatedly said should be above the law of the land.

For him, truth was an article of faith and not an expediency. He seldom allowed his principles to be subordinated to the exigencies of the situation. Even in the most trying circumstances, he stood by his convictions. As he himself observed, 'one should act in life according to truth and ones faith.

6. Choudhary Charan Singh
Period- March 24, 1977 to July 28, 1979

Political party - Janata Party

Shri Charan Singh was born in 1902 at Noorpur in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, in a middle class peasant family. He graduated in science in 1923, and did his post-graduation from Agra University in 1925. Also trained in law, he set up practice at Ghaziabad. He shifted to Meerut in 1929 and later joined the Congress.

He was first elected to the U.P. Legislative Assembly in 1937 from Chhatrauli, and represented the constituency in 1946, 1952, 1962 and 1967. He became Parliamentary Secretary in Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant's Government in 1946 and worked in various departments such as Revenue, Medical and Public Health, Justice, Information etc. In June 1951, he was appointed Cabinet Minister in the State and given charge of the Departments of Justice and Information. Later he took over as the Minister for Revenue and Agriculture in the Cabinet of Dr. Sampurnanand in 1952. When he resigned in April 1959, he was holding charge of the Department of Revenue and Transport.

In Shri C.B. Gupta's Ministry he was Minister for Home and Agriculture (1960). Shri Charan Singh served as Minister for Agriculture and Forests (1962-63) in Smt. Sucheta Kripalani's Ministry. He gave up the Department of Agriculture in 1965 and assumed charge of the Local Self-government department in 1966.

After the Congress split, he became the Chief Minister of U.P. for the second time in February 1970 with the support of the Congress Party. However, President's Rule was imposed in the State on October 2, 1970.

Shri Charan Singh served Uttar Pradesh in various capacities and won a reputation as a hard taskmaster who would not tolerate inefficiency, nepotism and corruption in administration. A gifted parliamentarian and a pragmatist, Shri Charan Singh is known for his eloquence and courage of conviction.

He was the chief architect of land reforms in U.P.; he took a leading part in formulation and finalisation of the Dept. Redemption Bill 1939, which brought great relief to rural debtors. It was also at his initiative that the salaries and other privileges enjoyed by Ministers in U.P. were drastically reduced. As Chief Minister he was instrumental in bringing about the Land Holding Act 1960 which was aimed at lowering the ceiling on land holdings to make it uniform throughout the State.

Few political leaders in the country could match Shri Charan Singh in their command of popular will at the grass-roots level. A dedicated public worker and staunch believer in social justice, Shri Charan Singh's strength stemmed essentially from the confidence he enjoyed among millions of peasants.

Chaudhary Charan Singh led a simple life and spent his spare time reading and writing. He was the author of several books and pamphlets, including 'Abolition of Zamindari', 'Co-operative Farming X-rayed', 'India's Poverty and its Solution', 'Peasant Proprietorship or Land to the Workers' and 'Prevention of Division of Holdings Below a Certain Minimum

7. Rajiv Gandhi
Period- October 31, 1984 to December 2, 1989

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

At 40, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India, perhaps even one of the youngest elected heads of Government in the world. His mother, Smt. Indira Gandhi, was eight years older when she first became Prime Minister in 1966. His illustrious grandfather, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, was 58 when he started the long innings of 17 years as free India's first Prime Minister.

As the harbinger of a generational change in the country, Shri Gandhi received the biggest mandate in the nation's history. He ordered elections to the Lok Sabha, the directly elected house of the Indian Parliament, as soon as mourning for his slain mother was over. In that election, the Congress, got a much higher proportion of the popular vote than in the preceding seven elections and captured a record 401 seats out of 508.

Such an impressive start as the leader of 700 million Indians would have been remarkable under any circumstance. What makes it even more unique is that Shri Gandhi was a late and reluctant entrant into politics even though he belonged to an intensely political family that had served India for four generations - both during the freedom struggle and afterwards.

Shri Rajiv Gandhi was born on August 20, 1944, in Bombay. He was just three when India became independent and his grandfather became Prime Minister. His parents moved to New Delhi from Lucknow. His father, Feroze Gandhi, became an M.P., and earned a reputation as a fearless and hard-working Parliamentarian.

Rajiv Gandhi spent his early childhood with his grandfather in the Teen Murti House, where Indira Gandhi served as the Prime Minister's hostess. He briefly went to school at Welham Prep in Dehra Dun but soon moved to the residential Doon School in the Himalayan foothills. There he made many lifelong friendships and was also joined by his younger brother, Sanjay.

After leaving school, Shri Gandhi went to Trinity College, Cambridge, but soon shifted to the Imperial College (London). He did a course in mechanical engineering. He really was not interested in 'mugging for his exams', as went on to admit later.

It was clear that politics did not interest him as a career. According to his classmates, his bookshelves were lined with volumes on science and engineering, not works on philosophy, politics or history. Music, however, had a pride of place in his interests. He liked Western and Hindustani classical, as well as modern music. Other interests included photography and amateur radio.

His greatest passion, however, was flying. No wonder then, that on returning home from England, he passed the entrance examination to the Delhi Flying Club, and went to the obtain a commercial pilot's licence. Soon, he became a pilot with Indian Airlines, the domestic national carrier.

While at Cambridge, he had met Sonia Maino, an Italian who was studying English. They were married in New Delhi in 1968. They stayed in Smt. Indira Gandhi's residence in New Delhi with their two children, Rahul and Priyanka. Theirs was a very private life despite the surrounding din and bustle of political activity.

But his brother Sanjay's death in an air crash in 1980 changed that. Pressures on Shri Gandhi to enter politics and help his mother, then besieged by many internal and external challenges, grew. He resisted these pressures at first, but later bowed to their logic. He won the by-election to the Parliament, caused by his brother's death, from Amethi in U.P.

In November 1982, when India hosted the Asian Games, the commitment made years earlier to build the stadia and other infrastructure was fulfilled. Shri Gandhi was entrusted with the task of getting all the work completed on time and ensuring that the games themselves were conducted without any hitches or flaws. In fulfilling this challenging task, he first displayed his flair for quiet efficiency and smooth coordination. At the same time, as General Secretary of the Congress, he started streamlining and energising the party organisation with equal diligence. All these qualities came to the fore later in far more testing and trying times.

For no one could have ascended to power - becoming both Prime Minister and Congress President - in more tragic and tormenting circumstances than Shri Gandhi did in the wake of his mother's brutal assassination on 31 October, 1984. But he bore the awesome burden of personal grief and national responsibility with remarkable poise, dignity and restraint.

During the month long election campaign, Shri Gandhi travelled tirelessly from one part of the country to the other, covering a distance equal to one and a half times the earth's circumference, speaking at 250 meetings in as many places and meeting millions face to face.

A modern-minded, decisive but undemonstrative man, Shri Gandhi was at home in the world of high technology. And, as he repeatedly said, one of his main objectives, besides preserving India's unity, was to propel it into the twenty-first century.

8. Vishwanath Pratap Singh
Period- December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990

Political party - Janata Dal

Born on June 25, 1931 at Allahabad, Shri V.P. Singh is the son of Raja Bahadur Ram Gopal Singh. He was educated at Allahabad and Poona Universities. He was married to Smt. Sita Kumari on June 25, 1955 and has two sons.

A scholarly man, he was the proud founder of Gopal Vidyalaya, Intermediate College, Koraon, Allahabad. He was the President of the Students Union at Udai Pratap College, Varanasi in 1947-48 and was the Vice-President, Allahabad University Students Union. He actively participated in Bhoodan movement in 1957 and donated a well-established farm in village Pasna, District Allahabad.

He was the member of All India Congress Committee; Executive Body, Allahabad University, 1969-71 and Legislative Assembly, Uttar Pradesh 1969-71. He was the Whip, Congress Legislative Party, 1970-71; Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), 1971-74; Union Deputy Minister of Commerce, October 1974-November 1976; Union State Minister of Commerce, November 1976-March 1977; Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), January 3-July 26,1980. He was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, June 9, 1980- June 28, 1982; Member, Legislative Council, Uttar Pradesh, November 21, 1980-June 14,1981; Member Legislative Assembly, Uttar Pradesh, June 15, 1981-July 16, 1983.

As a Union Minister of Commerce in January 29,1983, he also held additional charge of the Department of Supply in February 15,1983. He was the Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) in July 16, 1983; on September 1, 1984 he was elected President, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee and on December 31, 1984 he became the Union Finance Minister.

9. Chandra Shekhar
Period- November 10, 1990 to June 21, 1991

Political party - Samajwadi JanataParty

Shri Chandra Shekhar was born on July 1, 1927, in a farmer's family in village Ibrahimpatti in District Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. He was President of the Janata Party from 1977 to 1988.

Shri Chandra Shekhar was attracted to politics from his student days and was known as a fire-brand idealist with revolutionary fervour. After his Master's Degree in Political Science from Allahabad University (1950-51), he joined the Socialist Movement. He had the privilege of having been associated very closely with Acharya Narendra Dev. He was elected Secretary of the District Praja Socialist Party, Ballia. Within a year, he was elected Joint Secretary of the U.P. State Praja Socialist Party. In 1955-56 he took over as General Secretary of the U.P., State Praja Socialist Party.

In 1962, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. He joined the Indian National Congress in January 1965. In 1967 he was elected General Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party. As a Member of Parliament he made a mark by taking keen interest in espousing the cause of the downtrodden and pleading for policies for rapid social change. In this context, when he attacked the disproportionate growth of monopoly houses with State patronage, he came in conflict with the centres of power.

He came to be as 'Young Turk' leader for his conviction, courage and integrity in the fight against vested interested. He founded and edited YOUNG INDIAN, a weekly published from Delhi in 1969. Its editorial had the distinction of being among the most quoted ones of the time. During the Emergency (June 1975 to March 1977) YOUNG INDIAN had to be closed down. It resumed regular publication in February 1989. He is the Chairman of its Editorial Advisory Board.

Shri Chandra Sekhar has always stood against politics of personalities and has favoured politics of ideology and social change. This propelled him more towards Shri Jayaprakash Narayan and his idealist view of life during the turbulant days of 1973-75. He soon became a focal point of dissent within the Congress Party.

When Emergency was declared on June 25, 1975, he was arrested under Maintenance of Internal Security Act inspite of the fact that he was a member of the Central Election Committee and Working Committee, top bodies of the Indian National Congress.

Shri Chandra Sekhar was among the few individuals in the then ruling party who was imprisoned during the Emergency.

He has always rejected the politics of power and opted for the politics of commitment to democratic values and social change.

His diary, written in Hindi while undergoing imprisonment during the Emergency period, was later published under the title 'Meri Jail Diary'. A well-known compilation of his writings is 'Dynamics of Social Change'.

Shri Chandra Shekhar undertook a marathon walk (Padayatra) through the country from Kanyakumari in the deep South to Rajghat (Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi) in New Delhi covering a distance of nearly 4260 kms from January 6, 1983 to June 25, 1983. The Padayatra was undertaken to renew rapport with the masses and to understand their pressing problems.

He has established about fifteen Bharat Yatra Centres in various parts of the country including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to train social and political workers for mass education and grassroot work in backward pockets of the country.

He has been a Member of Parliament since 1962 except for a brief period from 1984 to 1989. In 1989 he successfully contested both from his home constituency, Ballia, and the adjoining Maharajganj constituency in Bihar. He vacated the latter.

Shri Chandra Sekhar is married to Smt. Duja Devi and has two sons, Pankaj and Neeraj.

10. P V Narasimha Rao
Period- June 21, 1991 to May 16, 1996

Political party - Indian NationalCongress

Son of Shri P. Ranga Rao, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao was born on June 28, 1921 at Karimnagar. He studied in Osmania University, Hyderabad, Bombay University and the Nagpur University. A widower, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao is the father of three sons and five daughters.

Being an agriculturist and an advocate, he joined politics and held some important portfolios. He was the Minister of Law and Information, 1962-64; Law and Endowments, 1964-67; Health and Medicine, 1967 and Education, 1968-71, Government of Andhra Pradesh. He was the Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh, 1971-73; General Secretary, All India Congress Committee, 1975-76; Chairman, Telugu Academy, Andhra Pradesh, 1968-74; Vice-President, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras, from 1972. He was also Member, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, 1957-77; Member, Lok Sabha 1977-84 and was elected to Eighth Lok Sabha from Ramtek in December, 1984. As Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, 1978-79 he participated in a Conference on South Asia convened by the School of Asian and African Studies, London University. Shri Rao also Chaired Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan's Andhra Centre; he was Minister for External Affairs from January 14, 1980 to July 18, 1984; Minister of Home Affairs from July 19, 1984 to December 31, 1984 and the Minister of Defence from December 31, 1984 to September 25, 1985. He then assumed charge as Minister of Human Resource Development on September 25, 1985 .

A man of many interests, he likes music, cinema and theatre. His special interest lies in Indian philosophy and culture, writing fiction and political commentary, learning languages, writing poems in Telugu and Hindi and keeping abreast of literature in general. He has successfully published 'SahasraPhan', a Hindi translation of late Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana's famous Telegu Novel 'Veyi Padagalu' published by Jnanpith; 'Abala Jeevitam', Telugu translation of late Shri Hari Narayan Apte's famous Marathi Novel, Pan Lakshat Kon gheto, published by Central Sahitya Academy. He translated other famous works from Marathi to Telugu and from Telugu to Hindi, and published many articles in different magazines mostly under a pen name. He lectured at Universities in the U.S.A. and West Germany on political matters and allied subjects. As Minister of External Affairs he travelled extensively to U.K., West Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Egypt in 1974.

During the period when he was Minister of External Affairs, Shri Rao successfully brought to bear his scholarly background and rich political and administrative experience on the field of international diplomacy. He chaired the III Conference of UNIDO at New Delhi in January 1980, within a few days of assuming charge. He also chaired a meeting of the Group of 77 at New York in March 1980. More recently, his role at the Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-aligned Countries in February 1981 earned him wide appreciation. Shri Rao has shown keen personal interest in international economic issues and personally led the Indian delegation to the Conference of the Group of 77 on ECDC at Caracas, in May 1981.

1982 and 1983 were eventful years for India and its foreign policy. In the shadow of the Gulf war the Non-aligned Movement asked India to host the Seventh Summit. This also meant India assuming the Chair of the Movement and Smt. Indira Gandhi becoming its Chairperson. Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao presided over meetings of Foreign Ministers of Non-aligned Nations on the eve of the New Delhi Summit and also at the United Nations both in 1982, when India was asked to host the Summit and the following year when, at the initiative of the Movement, informal consultations amongst Heads of State and Government from diverse nations across the world were held at New York.

Shri Rao was also the Leader of the Special Non-aligned Mission that visited countries in West Asia in November 1983, in an effort to resolve the Palestian Liberation Organisation. Shri Rao was associated actively with the Commonwealth Heads of Government in New Delhi and with the Action Group set up by the meeting on the question of Cyprus.

In his capacity as Minister of External Affairs, Shri Narasimha Rao has chaired on behalf of India a number of Joint Commissions including those with the U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Vietnam, Tanzania and Guyana.

Shri Narasimha Rao took over as Home Minister on July 19, 1984. He was re-appointed to this post, with the additional charge of the Ministry of Planning, on November 5, 1984. Appointed Minister of Defence from December 31, 1984 to September 25, 1985. On September 25,1985 he took over as Minister of Human Resource Development.



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