Indira Gandhi was born November 19, 1917, in Allahabad,
India, to Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru. Her life was drastically changed in 1919 when her wealthy and
prominent family was visited by Mohandas Gandhi, the pacifist leader of the Indian freedom movement.
Recently returned from exile in South Africa, he converted her parents to the cause of Indian independence
Constant meetings and the frequent absence of Gandhi's parents deprived her of a normal childhood.
Though she was spoiled by her grandfather Motilal, Gandhi later recalled she felt "insecure."
She was four years old when her father and grandfather were first jailed for their activities,
then the jailings, which also included her mother, became frequent.
Because of the insecurities of her childhood Gandhi hardened herself and resolved not to be hurt,
as her mother had been, She grew up as a solemn, precocious child whose games were related to the
fight against Britain. For example, at age 11 she organized the Monkey Brigade. Imitating the Monkey
army in the epic Indian story Ramayana, While she was in school in Poona in the 1930s She once commented
that Gandhi "was always present in my life; he played an enormous role in my development.
India had been ruled by England for over a century prior to its independence in 1947. While the
British hadbuilt many roads, schools, and hospitals, they had also acted as a superior colonial power.
The Indians greatly resented British control. The organized struggle for freedom began early in this
century and grew until after World War II, which ended in 1945, when the British finally realized they
could no longer hold India. The ascension of a woman, Indira Gandhi, to the highest position in the
world's most populous democracy was especially significant for Indian women, who had traditionally
been subservient to men. In addition, she was also an inspiration to people in other Third World nations.