I am proud that I spent the whole of my life in the service of my people ... I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it.
Difficulties can't be eliminated from life. Individuals will always have them, countries will always have them...The only thing is to accept them, if possible overcome them, otherwise to come to terms with them. It's all right to fight, yes, but only when it's possible.
Without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue. You have to have courage - courage of different kinds: first, intellectual courage, to sort out different values and make up your mind about which is the one which is right for you to follow. You have to have moral courage to stick up to that - no matter what comes in your way, no matter what the obstacle and the opposition is.
In the Western world, women have no other choice. In India, no. And I'll explain the reason. It's a reason that also has to do with my own case. In India women have never been a hostile competition with men - even in the most distant past, every time a woman emerged as a leader, perhaps as a queen, the people accepted her. As something normal and not exceptional.
We always said that our struggle was not only against the British as representatives of colonialism, it was against all the evil that existed in India. The evil of the feudal system, the evil of the system based on caste, the evil of economic injustice.
It's not right to say that my father influenced me more than others, and I wouldn't be able to say whether my personality was formed more by my father or my mother or the Mahatma [Gandhi] or the friends who were with us.
India had barely become independent, in 1947, when Pakistan invaded Kashmir, which at the time was ruled by a maharajah. The maharajah fled, and the people of Kashmir, led by Sheikh Abdullah, asked for Indian help. Lord [Louis] Mountbatten, who was still governor general, replied that he wouldn't be able to supply aid to Kashmir unless Pakistan declared war, and he didn't seem bothered by the fact that the Pakistanis were slaughtering the population.
It is legitimate to have one's own point of view and political philosophy. But there are people who make anger, rather than a deeply held belief, the basis of their actions. They do not seem to mind harming society as a whole in the pursuit of their immediate objective. No society can survive if it yields to the demands of frenzy, whether of the few or the many.
I went back into politics only when it was clear that things weren't going as they should have in my party. I was always arguing, I argued with everyone - with my father, with the leaders I had known since I was a child...and one day, it was in 1955, one of them exclaimed, 'You do nothing but criticize! If you think you can correct things, correct them. Go ahead, why don't you try?' Well, I could never resist a challenge, so I tried.
It's the same story as when we nationalized the banks. I'm not for nationalization because of the rhetoric of nationalization, or because I see in nationalization the cure-all for every injustice. I'm for nationalization in cases where it's necessary.
My husband lived in Lucknow. My father lived in Delhi, of course. So I shuttled between Delhi and Lucknow and...naturally, if my husband needed me on days when I was in Delhi, I ran back to Lucknow. But if it was my father who needed me, on the days when I was in Lucknow. And...yes, my husband got angry. And he quarreled. We quarreled. We quarreled a lot. It's true.
I want to state that there will be friendship between Bangladesh and ourselves. And not a one-sided friendship, of course - no one does anything for nothing; each has something to give and something to take.
Satisfied is a word I use only in reference to my country, and I'll never be satisfied for my country. For this reasons I go on taking difficult paths, and between a paved road and a footpath that goes up the mountain, I choose the footpath. To the great irritation of my bodyguards.
We announced that there'd be no more starvation in India. And you responded, 'Impossible. You'll never succeed!' Instead we succeeded; today in India no one dies of hunger any more; food production far exceeds consumption.
A lot of mythology arose after [Mahatma Gandhi] death. But the fact remains that he was an exceptional man, terribly intelligent, with tremendous intuition for people, and a great instinct for what was right.
You found an uncle on one side and a nephew on the other, a cousin here and a cousin there. Besides it's still true today. I'll tell you something else. There was a time when even two ambassadors to Switzerland, the one from India and the one from Pakistan, were two blood brothers. Oh, the Partition imposed on us by the British was so unnatural!
[ Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto is not a very balanced man. When he talks, you never understand what he means. What does he mean this time? That he wants to be friends with us? We've wanted to be friends with him for some time; I've always wanted to.
If by happiness you mean ecstasy ... Yes, I've known ecstasy, and it's a blessing to be able to say it because those who can say it are very few. But ecstasy doesn't last long and is seldom if ever repeated.
The India I want, I'll never tire of repeating, is a more just and less poor India, one entirely free of foreign influences. If I thought the country was already marching toward these objectives, I'd give up politics immediately and retire as prime minister.
We couldn't keep ten million refugees on our soil; we couldn't tolerate such an unstable situation for who knows how long. That influx of refugees wouldn't have stopped - on the contrary. It would have gone on and on and on, until there would have been an explosion. We were no longer able to control the arrival of those people, in our own interest we had to stop it! That's what I said to Mr.[Richard] Nixon, to all the other leaders I visited in an attempt to avert the war.
I suggested a compromise to give the banks a year's time and see if they succeed in showing us that nationalization wasn't necessary. The year went by and we realized it hadn't done any good, that the money still ended up in the hands of the rich industrialists or friends of the bankers. So I concluded that it was necessary to nationalize the banks. And we did. Without considering it a socialist gesture or an antisocialist gesture, just a necessary one. Anyone who nationalizes only so as to be considered on the left to me is a fool.
I like to think I've provided this faith. I also think that by providing faith, I've focused their pride. I say focused because pride isn't something you give. It doesn't even break out suddenly; it's a feeling that grows very slowly, very confusedly.
Even under the British there were hostile groups. There were clashes. But, as we found out later, these were clashes provoked by those who had no wish to let us live together - on the eve of the Partition. The policy of keeping us divided was always followed by foreigners, even after the Partition. If Indians and Pakistanis had been together...I don't say as confederated countries but as neighboring and friendly countries...like Italy and France, for example ...believe me, both of us would have progressed much further.
If we offer something to Bangladesh, it's obvious that Bangladesh is offering something to us. And why shouldn't Bangladesh be able to keep its promises? Economically it's full of resources and can stand on its feet. Politically it seems to me led by trained people. The refugees who took shelter here are going home...
Until I was about eighteen, yes [I didn't want to get married]. But not because I felt like a suffragette, but because I wanted to devote all my energies to the struggle to free India. Marriage, I thought, would have distracted me from the duties I'd imposed on myself.
Naturally, if the Americans had fired a shot, if the Seventh Fleet had done something more than sit there in the Bay of Bengal...yes, the Third World War would have exploded. But, in all honesty, not even that fear occurred to me.
Not only my parents but the whole family was involved in the resistance - my grandfather and grandmother, my uncles and aunts, my cousings of both sexes. So ever so often the police came and took them away, indiscriminately. Well, the fact that they arrested both my father and mother, both my grandfather and grandmother, both an uncle and an aunt, made me accustomed to looking on men and women with the same eyes, on an absolute plane of equality.
You soon realize that the peak you've climbed was one of the lowest, that the mountain was part of a chain of mountains, that there are still so many, so many mountains to climb...And the more you climb, the more you want to climb - even though you're dead tired.
My fiancÃ©, you see, belonged to another religion. He was a Parsi. And this was something nobody could stand - all of India was against us. They wrote to Gandhi, to my fther, to me. Insults, death threats. Every day the postman arrived with an enormous sack and dumped the letters on the floor. We even stopped reading them; we let a couple of friends read them and tell us what was in them.
However, the treaty exists and it puts us in a different position toward the Soviet Union than the one we have toward other countries. Yes, the treaty exists. Nor does it exist on only one side. Look how w3e're situated geographically and you'll see that India is very important for the Soviet Union.
Even today to be civilised is held to be synonymous with being westernised. Advanced countries devote large resources to formulating and spreading ideas and doctrines and they tend to impose on the developing nations their own norms and methods. The pattern of the classical acquisitive society with its deliberate multiplication of wants not only is unsuited to conditions in our countries but is positively harmful.
When I'm not governing my country any more, I'll go back to taking care of children. Or else I'll start studying anthropology - it's a science that's always interested me very much, also in relation to the problem of poverty. Or else I'll go back to studying history - at Oxford I took my degree in history. Or else...I don't know, I'm fascinated by the tribal communities. I might busy myself with them.
I suspected [Richard Nixon] was very pro-Pakistan. Or rather I knew that the Americans had always been in favor of Pakistan - not so much because they were in favor of Pakistan, but because they were against India.
Muslim women had to go out in purdah, that heavy sheet that covers even the eyes. Hindu women had to go out in the doli, a kind of closed sedan chair like a catafalque. My mother always told me about these things with bitterness and rage.
Would you consider a man or a woman to be complicated? Is it that difficult to understand both the sexes? We say that we know what the other sex is all about, but is that really true? Perhaps the following witty, funny quotes and sayings can help simplify things down about men.
All unprejudiced persons objectively surveying the grim events in Bangla Desh since March 25 have recognized the revolt of 75 million people, a people who were forced to the conclusion that neither their life, nor their liberty, to say nothing of the possibility of the pursuit of happiness, was available to them.
What we do now, on the other hand...Don't think that I'm crazy about this kind of politics. It's no accident that I've done everything to keep my sons out of it, and so far I've succeeded. After independence I retired immediately from politics.
In India's distant past, when the population was low, the blessing given a woman was, 'May you have many children.' Most of our epics and literature stress this wish, and the idea that a woman should have many children hasn't declined.
Unfortunately even in India there are people who talk like that. And they're the same ones who say, 'We should never have accepted the existence of Pakistan. Now that it exists, it ought to be destroyed.' But these are only a few madmen who have no following among the masses.
I had many dolls. And you know how I played with them? By performing insurrections, assemblies, scenes of arrest. My dolls were almost never babies to be nursed but men and women who attacked barracks and ended up in prison.
I said that my father was not a politician. I, instead, think I am. But not in the sense of being interested in a political career - rather in the sense that I think it necessary to strive to build a certain India, the India I want.
For me it's absolutely the same - I treat one and the other in exactly the same way. As persons, that is, not as men and women. But, even here, you have to consider the fact that I've had a very special education, that I'm the daughter of a man like my father and a woman like my mother.
No one wanted that marriage, no one. Even Mahatma Gandhi wasn't happy about it. As for my father...it's not true that he opposed it, as people say, but he wasn't eager for it. I suppose because the fathers of only daughters would prefer to see them get married as late as possible.
People often ask me: Who has influenced you the most? Your father? Mahatma Gandhi? Yes, my choices were fundamentally influenced by them, by the spirit of equality they infused in me - my obsession for justice comes from my father, who in turn got it from Mahatma Gandhi.
We were to equally strong types [with my husband], equally pigheaded - neither of us wanted to give in. And...I like to think those quarrels made us better, that they enlivened our life, because without them we would have had a normal life, yes, but banal and boring.
At first people asked us, 'Can you do it?' And we kept silent because we didn't believe in ourselves, we didn't believe that we could do things. Today people no longer say to us, 'Can you?' They say, 'When can you?' Because the Indians finally believe in themselves, they believe they can do things.
I have certain objectives. They're the same objectives my father had to give people a higher standard of living, to do away with the cancer of poverty, to eliminate the consequences of economic backwardness.
I said, I'll put on weight. And I started having massages, taking cod-liver oil, and eating twice as much. But I didn't even gain an ounce. I'd made up my mind that on the day the engagement was announced I'd be fatter, and I didn't gain an ounce. Then I went to Mussoorie, which is a health resort, and I ignored the doctors' instructions; I invented my own regime and gained weight. Just the opposite of what I'd like now. Now I have the problem of keeping slim. Still I manage. I don't know if you realize I'm a determined woman.
Maybe I would have considered the problem if I'd met someone with whom I'd have liked to live. But I never met this someone and... No, even if I had met him, I'm sure I wouldn't have got married again. Why should I get married now that my life is so full? No, no, it's out of the question.
One day in 1965 Rajiv wrote me from London, where he was studying, and informed me, 'You're always asking me about girls, whether I have a special girl, and so forth. Well, I've met a special girl.' And when Rajiv returned to India, I asked him, 'Do you still think about her in the same way?' And he said yes. But she couldn't get married until she was twenty-one, and until she was sure she'd like to live in India. Sonia is almost completely an Indian by now, even though she doesn't always wear saris.
I began to associate with Mahatma Gandhi when he came and went in our house - together with my father and mother he was on the executive committee. After independence I worked with him a lot - in the period when there were the troubles between Hindus and Muslims, he assigned me to take care of the Muslims. To protect them.
I was a welfare worker for the Indian Council for Child Welfare. I'll tell you a story. Rajiv was only four years old at that time, and was going to kindergarten. One day the mother of one of his little friends came to see us and said in a sugary voice, 'Oh, it must be so sad for you to have no time to spend with your little boy!' Rajiv roared like a lion: 'My mother spends more time with me than you spend with your little boy, see! Your little boy says you always leave him alone so you can play bridge!' I detest women who do nothing and they play bridge.
The struggle for independence here has been conducted in equal measure by men and by women. And when we got our independence, no one forgot that. In the Western world, on the other hand, nothing of the kind has ever happened - women have participated, yes, but revolutions have always been made by men alone.
[Mahatma Gandhi] said that the first president of India ought to be a harijan girl, an untouchable. He was so against the class system and the oppression of women that an untouchable woman became for him the epitome of purity and benediction.
The International Control Commission isn't doing anything, it's never done anything. What good does it do to be on it or not? Before opening the embassy in Hanoi, I gave it a lot of thought, but it wasn't really a painful decision. American policy in Vietnam is what it is, in Saigon the situation is anything but normal, and I'm happy to have done what I did.
Finally we promised to limit the birth rate. And this you really didn't believe; you smiled scornfully. Well, even in this things have gone well. The fact is that we have grown by over seventy millions in ten years, but it's also true that we have grown less than many other countries, including the countries of Europe.
The life I've had, the difficulties, the hardships, the pain I've suffered since I was a child. It's a great privilege to have led a difficult life, and many people in my generation have had this privilege - I sometimes wonder if young people today aren't deprived of the dramas that shaped us...
In the face of such a threat, they had no other choice but to throw themselves to the far left. But now that the people are conscious of our efforts, now that they see us resolving problems, the communists are losing strength.
You've never been very generous, you Westerners, toward us Indians. You should have seen that things were changing, albeit slowly. You should have seen that something was happening. Not much, but something.
What does nonalignment mean? It means we don't belong to any military bloc and that we reserve the right to be friends with any country, independently of the influence of any country. All this has remained unchanged after the signing of the Indo-Soviet treaty, and others can say or think what they like - our policy won't change because of the Soviet Union.
You say this victory is dangerous. I say that today no one can yet tell if it's dangerous, that today I don't see the risks you mention. If, however, those risks should become reality...I'll act in accordance with the new reality.
Until the day she died, my mother continued to fight for the rights of women. She joined all the women's movements of the time; she stirred up a lot of revolts. She was a great woman, a great figure. Women today would like her immensely.
A revolution is already taking place in India. Things are changing here already - peacefully and democratically. There's no danger of communism. There would be if we had a rightist government instead of mine.
Poverty assumes so many aspects here in India. There aren't only the poor that you see in the cities, there are the poor among the tribes, the poor who live in the forest, the poor who live on the mountains. Should we ignore them as long as the poor in the cities are better off? And better off with reference to what? To what people wanted ten years ago? Then it seemed like so much. Today it's no longer so much.
The Western press has always insisted that India was Pakistan's enemy and vice versa, that the Hindus were against the Muslims and vice versa. They've never said, for instance, that my party has been fighting this attitude ever since we have maintained that religious hostilities are wrong and absurd, that minorities cannot be eliminated from a country, that people of different religions must live together.
Do you know why I won the last elections? It was because the people liked me, yes, because I had worked, yes, but also because the opposition had behaved badly toward me. And do you know why I won this war? Because my army was able to do it, yes, but also because the Americans were on the side of Pakistan.
You must also understand us - always undervalued, underestimated, not believed. Even when we believed, you didn't believe us. You said, 'How is it possible to fight without violence?' But without violence we obtained freedom.
My father cared very much about courage, physical courage as well. He despised those who didn't have it. But he never said to me, 'I want you to be courageous.' He just smiled with pride every time I did something difficult or won a race with the boys.
I remember harrowing episodes. People who emigrated, people who didn't want to emigrate...Many Muslims didn't want to leave India to go to live in Pakistan, but the propaganda was that there they'd have greater opportunities and so they left. Many Hindus, on the other hand, didn't want to stay in Pakistan, but they had ties there or property and so they stayed.
Until today the rights of people have always been put forward by a few individuals acting in the name of the masses. Today instead of people no longer want to be represented; each wants to speak for himself and participate directly - it's the same for the Negroes, for the Jews, for women.
I discovered [Joan of Arc] toward the age of ten or twelve, when I went to France. I don't remember where I read about her, but I recall that she immediately took on a definite importance for me. I wanted to sacrifice my life for my country. It seems like foolishness and yet...what happens when we're children is engraved forever on our lives.
It would seem that it was not in the interest of 'someone' for us to make progress. It was in 'someone's' interest that we be always at war, that we tear each other to pieces. Yes, I'm inclined to absolve the Pakistanis. How should they have behaved? Someone encouraged them to attack us, someone gave them weapons to attack us. And they attacked us.
At a certain point the family moved to Jaipur, where no woman could avoid the doli or purdah. They kept her in the house from morning to night, either cooking or doing nothing. [My mother] hated doing nothing, she hated to cook. So she became pale and ill, and far from being concerned about her health, my grandfather said, 'Who's going to marry her now?' So my grandmother waited for my grandfather to go out, and then she dressed my mother as a man and let her go out riding with her brothers.
I began to travel by myself, in Europe, when I was eight years old. At that age I was already on the move between India and Swizerland, Switzerland and France, France and England. Administering my own finances like an adult.
All of a sudden inscriptions appeared on walls. Signs appeared. And that 'no' exploded all over India, in an act of pride that surprised even me. Then even the political parties, all of them, even the deputies in Parliament, said no: it's better to die of hunger than be taken for a nation of beggars.
We must protect families, we must protect children, who have inalienable rights and should be loved, should be taken care of physically and mentally, and should not be brought into the world only to suffer.
I know you were surprised when, after the fall of Dacca, Pakistani and Indian officers shook hands. But do you realize that, up until 1965, in our army and the Pakistani one you could come across generals who were brothers? Blood brothers, sons of the same father and the same mother.
The doctors advised me not to have even one. My health was still not good, and they said that pregnancy might be fatal. If they hadn't said that to me, maybe I wouldn't have got married. But that diagnosis provoked me, it infuriated me. I answered, 'Why do you think I'm getting married if not to have children? I don't want to hear that I can't have children; I want you to tell me what I have to do in order to have children!'
I've always been able to do what I wanted. On the other hand, my mother was. She considered the fact of being a woman a great disadvantage. She had her reasons. In her day women lived in seclusion - in almost all Indian states they couldn't even show themselves on the street.
Just when you think you've achieved something, you realize you've achieved nothing. And still you have to go forward just the same - toward a dream so distant that your road has neither beginning nor end.
Whether when I was a child and fought the British in the Monkey brigade, or when I was a girl and wanted to have children, or when I was a woman and devoted myself to my father, making my husband angry. Each time I stayed involved all the way in my decision, and took the consequences. Even if I was fighting for things that didn't concern India.
In India you don't find propaganda against Pakistan. During the war there was a little of it, naturally, but even during the war we were able to control it. In fact the Pakistanis were astonished by this. There were prisoners in the camp hospitals who exclaimed, 'What? You're a Hindu doctor and you want to cure me?'
Do you know that, until recently, poor people brought children into the world for the sole purpose of making use of them? But how can you change, by force or all of a sudden, an age-old habit? The only way is to plan births, by one means or another.
[My mother] was the oldest of two sisters and two brothers, and she grew up with her brothers, who were about her age. She grew up, to the age of ten, like a wild colt, and then all of a sudden that was over. They had forced on her her 'woman's destiny' by saying, 'This isn't done, this isn't good, this isn't worthy of a lady.'
I always defended my father, as a child, and I think I'm still defending him - his policies at least. Oh, he wasn't at all a politician, in no sense of the word. He was sustained in his work only by a blind faith in India - he was preoccupied in such an obsessive way by the future of India. We understood each other.
By now even the word socialism has so many meanings and interpretations. The Russians call themselves socialists, the Swedes call themselves. And let's not forget that in Germany there was also a national socialism.
I had recently had the impression they were changing - not so much by becoming less pro-Pakistan as by becoming less anti-India. I was wrong. My visit to [Richard] Nixon did anything but avert the war.