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Photograph: India Abroad Archives
As part of a series marking 30 years of Emergency, profiles the architect of the dark days of Indian democracy - Indira Gandhi.

Born into the illustrious political family of the Nehrus, Indira was the only child of Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru. As a child she was perennially ill due to tuberculosis and was known to be in the awe of her father.

She became prime minister, albeit reluctantly, in 1966 after the incumbent Lal Bahadur Shastri's death. Her finest moment in office came in 1971, with the military defeat of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh.

Also Read: 'Emergency should never happen again'
        'It was the darkest period of Indian democracy, a blot'

Perhaps the adulation went to her head. On June 26, 1975, when the Allahabad high court voided her election to the Lok Sabha, she declared a state of Emergency.

After 28 years of freedom from foreign rule, democratic India faced 19 nightmarish months of authoritarianism, denial of civil liberties, oppressive measures and anarchy.

It was Indira's long stint as prime minister that put India on a solid footing, and it was she who put the people through the dark days of Emergency as well.

No wonder the Iron lady, as she was called, is much discussed, analysed and written about.

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Research and Text: Rupali Nimkar | Design: Rahil Shaikh

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