Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister

Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister
Image source: Google

Rating: 3.5/5

Author: Sagarika Ghosh

Publisher: Juggernaut Books

Publishing Date: 30th June 2017

Language: English

Genre: Biography

ISBN-10: 9386228343

ISBN-13: 978-9386228345

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 480

Cost: Rs. 495 (Hardcover)


“Indira never forgot who she was, that she was Indira Nehru Gandhi and hers was the bloodline that was joined to India’s. Her identity, all her life, was defined by lineage, family and power rather than by gender.”

Indira: India's Most Powerful Prime Minister is a 2017 biography by Indian Journalist Sagarika Ghose of Indira Gandhi, a politician and former prime minister of India.


In the preface, Ghose notes that- publisher ‘Juggernaut’ approached her with the idea for a biography of Indira Gandhi, in the centenary year of her birth, 'to bring Indira alive for a new generation', and confesses that she has drawn on the work of other biographers and scholars rather than bringing to light new information.

The book is thus a journalistic effort to place Indira in the contemporary context, examining her fraught legacy and identifying the lessons she taught Indian politicians.

Indira Gandhi is fondly remembered as the ‘Durga’ who won India its first decisive military victory in centuries and the strong stateswoman who had the courage to look American bullying in the eye and not blink. Equally, she is remembered as the terrible dictator who imposed the Emergency and tried to destroy institutions ranging from her own party to the judiciary; she is seen as the source of many of the problems that lead to the Indian democracy today. Even so, for politicians Indira is the very definition of a strong leader, and a role model on both sides of the aisle.

In this spellbinding story of her life, journalist Sagarika Ghose has just not described Indira as the political leader but also how she was as a person. We learn a lot about ‘behind-the scenes’ of her journey:

Sagarika states how her family home became a hub of the national movement and Indira marinated in a political environment from an early age. How Indira and her mother dealt with the internal politics: politics within her family, inside her home. Her sickly mother and she were the target of unkind attacks from her aunts. And her celebrated father was desperate to project his daughter into his version of perfection.

This biographical piece seeks answers for persistent issues: from why Indira revoked the Emergency to her son Sanjay’s curious grip over her; and from her bad marriage and love affairs to her dangerous religious politics.

The author delves deeper into the personal boundaries of this great former prime minister and sheds light that despite Nehru’s disappointment and dismissiveness, Indira rose to become the unambiguous highest power of the Congress and the most powerful prime minister India has ever had.

About the Author:

Sagarika Ghose (Born: 8th November 1964) went to St Stephen's College in New Delhi before winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University where she gained an MA and M Phil degree in History. She has been a journalist for fourteen years, reporting extensively on Indian elections, politics and society as well as traveling and reporting in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Ghose is the author of two novels, The Gin Drinkers, published in 1998, and Blind Faith, in 2004. Her first novel The Gin Drinkers was published to critical acclaim in 2000. In 2017, Ghose published a widely acclaimed biography of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Indira: India’s most powerful prime minister (Juggernaut Books). 

In her 2018 non-fiction book, Why I Am A Liberal: A Manifesto For Indians Who Believe in Individual Freedom, Ghose describes herself as a liberal who believes in rule of law, limited government, robust institutions and individual liberty. She is currently senior editor and prime time news anchor on the news channel CNN IBN.