Indira Gandhi: Interviewed by Orianna Fallaci

Part 1

Oriana Fallaci Interview with History book coverby Sachi Sri Kantha, November 19, 2014


November 19th 2014 marked Indira Gandhi’s 97th birthday. It has been 30 years since she was assassinated on October 31, 1984. Unlike Sinhalese, Eelam Tamils (as well as a sizeable segment of Tamil Nadu Tamils) had warmth sentiments towards her. Despite Indira’s arrogance and political peccadillos, Indira projected the image of a 20th century Hindu heroine. I remember a cover cartoon in the Economist (London) weekly in early 1980s portraying Indira as a ten-handed angry Goddess Kali. In the Hindu pantheon of gods, Kali is portrayed as the deity of destruction.

In the political world dominated by Christian men and servile effeminate Indian men, Indira strode like as a Colossus. Of course, Nehru pedigree helped her. Family wealth and childhood acquaintances with the persons who took part in the Indian freedom movement also gave her a prestigious status. If she was not blessed with the intellectual mind of her father Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira compensated it with her ‘gut feelings’ and not permitting her rivals to steal a scene at the political platform.

South Asian countries (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Myanmar) had produced women political leaders. All these were blessed to have a family member (either father or husband) who was a politician. But, Indira differed from other women political leaders of South Asia, in having a charisma on her own. Bandaranaikes (Sirimavo and Chandrika), Benazir Bhutto, Begam Khalida Zia and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar never had the charisma Indira had.

Indira was also known as a very private person, who hardly ‘opened up’ to journalists. Most interviewers felt that she was timid and arrogant. One exception was an interview she gave to Oriana Fallaci (Italian journalist, 1929-2006), who was considered as a gifted interviewer of her times. Numerous biographies (admiring and critical) had been published on Indira Gandhi. To remember her memory, I provide this three-part series.  In parts I and II, I have transcribed the complete transcript of Indira’s interview with Oriana Fallaci, which took place in New Delhi in February 1972. This was before the ‘Declaration of Emergency’ by Indira in 1975 and before her electoral defeat in the 1977 General Election. In part III, I raise some interesting questions related to Indira’s assassination on October 31, 1984, and how it dealt a body blow to the Eelam campaign, then gaining momentum.


Indira and Nehru with Eisenhowers

Indira and Nehru with Eisenhowers

Indira Gandhi interviewed by Oriana Fallaci

The text is from Oriana Fallaci’s 1976 book, ‘Interview with History’ – a collection of 14 historic interviews done by the author. Among the 14, only two were women political leaders; Golda Meir (1898-1978) and Indira. Altogether, Fallaci had asked 46 questions, and Indira had given longer answers. I provide the first part of the interview here. At the time of the interview (Feb. 1972), Indira’s political contemporaries were, Richard Nixon (USA), Leonid Brezhnev (USSR), Georges Pompidou (France), Wily Brandt (West Germany), Edward Heath (UK), Mao ZeDong (China).

I have three biographies of Indira Gandhi in my bookshelf, among the many published so far. These were, Uma Vasudev (Indira Gandhi – Revolution in Restraint, 1974), Inder Malhotra (Indira Gandhi – a personal and political biography, 1989) and Katherine Frank (Indira – The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi, 2002). As Oriana Fallaci’s book was published in 1976, Uma Vasudev’s book preceded it. Inder Malhotra had failed to provide details of this Oriana Fallaci challenging interview. Katherine Frank makes mentions of the interview passingly, by incorporating Indira’s answer to one question, [Only one among 45-odd questions!] and doesn’t do justice to the extensive text available.

It is refreshing to read Indira’s thinking, even after 42 years, after she had won the Dec. 1971 war against Pakistan (then led by Gen. Yahya Khan and Ali Bhutto). Perennial unanswered question in 1984 was that, could Indira have repeated her actions in Sri Lanka as well, like what she did to East Pakistan in December 1971? When the situation was ripe, her life was snuffed out, by two of his trusted Sikh bodyguards. Did they act, only on behalf of the Sikh nation Khalistan? Or were they pawns in the hands of vested interests, who got scared that at any given moment, Indira could repeat the ‘same act’ what she did in East Pakistan 13 years previously?

In transcribing, I have used the first names of interviewer and interviewee. The beauty of this interview is that Oriana was able to elicit Indira’s thoughts on many issues in 1972, political and personal life, when other interviewers had failed miserably. Wherever dots appear in questions and answers, they are as in the original.

Oriana: Mrs. Gandhi, I have so many questions to ask you, both personal and political. The personal ones, however, I’ll leave for later – once I’ve understood why many people are afraid of you and call you cold, indeed icy, hard…

Indira: They say that because I’m sincere. Even too sincere. And because I don’t waste time in flowery small talk, as people do in India, where the first half hour is spent in compliments: ‘How are you, how are your children, how are your grandchildren, and so forth’. I refuse to indulge in small talk. And compliments, if at all, I save for after the job is done. But in India people can’t stomach this attitude of mine, and when I say, ‘Hurry up, let’s get to the point,’ they feel hurt. And I think I’m cold, indeed icy, hard. Then there’s another reason, one that goes with my frankness: I don’t put on act. I don’t know how to put on an act; I always show myself for what I am, in whatever mood I’m in. If I’m happy, I look happy; if I’m angry, I show it. Without worrying about how others may react. When one has had a life as difficult as mine, one doesn’t worry about how others will react. And now go ahead. You can ask anything you like.

Oriana: Fine. I’ll begin with the most brutal question. You have won, more than won, a war. But quite a few of us consider this victory a dangerous one. Do you really think that Bangladesh will be the ally you hoped for? Aren’t you afraid it may turn out instead to be a most uncomfortable burden?

Indira: Look, life is always full of dangers and I don’t think one should avoid dangers. I think one should do what seems right. And if what seems right involves danger…well, one must risk the danger. That’s always been my philosophy. – I’ve never thought of the consequences of a necessary action. I examine the consequences later, when a new situation arises and I then face the new situation. And that’s it. 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. I hope that sounds like a positive statement. I want to answer you in a positive way. 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. 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…

Oriana: Are they really going home?

Indira: Yes, two million have already gone back.

Oriana: Two million out of ten. That’s not much.

Indira: No, but give them time. They’re going back fast. Fast enough. I’m satisfied. More than I expected.

Oriana: Mrs. Gandhi, in mentioning the dangers of your victory, I wasn’t referring only to Bangladesh. I was also referring to West Bengal, which is India, and which is now clamoring for its independence. I’ve heard the Naxalites in Calcutta…And there’s a sentence of Lenin’s that says, ‘The world revolution will pass through Shanghai and Calcutta.’

Indira and Nehru with Kennedys

Indira and Nehru with Kennedys

Indira: No, That’s not possible. And you know why? Because 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. In fact the communists gained strength in India when the people thought my party was moving to the right. And they were correct. 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. As for the Naxalites in West Bengal, they are completely under control, and I’m sure that the ones in Bangladesh will also be brought under control. No, I don’t expect trouble.

Oriana: They’ve already given you some trouble, in Bangladesh. I saw fearful lynching in Dacca after the liberation.

Indira: They happened in the first five days and were few in comparison with the massacres that the others carried out, in comparison with the million people the others killed. They were some unfortunate incidents, it’s true, and we tried to prevent them. If you only knew how many people we saved! But we couldn’t be everywhere, we couldn’t see everything, and it was inevitable that some things would escape us. In all communities you find groups that behave badly. But you must understand them too. They were so enraged, blinded by resentment. To be just, one should not consider what you saw in a few days but what they saw and suffered for many months.

Oriana: Mrs. Gandhi, you know the accusation that it was you Indians who provoked this war and attacked first. What do you say to that?

Indira: I’d answer by admitting that, if you want to go way back, we helped the Mukti Bahini. So, if you consider it all as beginning with that aid and from that moment, yes – we were the ones to start it. But we couldn’t do otherwise. 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. Nixon, to all the other leaders I visited in an attempt to avert the war.

However, when you look at the beginning of the actual war, it’s not hard to recognize that the Pakistanis were the ones to attack. They were the ones who descended on us with their planes, at five o’clock that afternoon when the first bombs fell on Agra. I can prove it to you by the fact that we were taken completely by surprise. The weekend is the only time when we in the government can leave Delhi, and, well, almost no one was in Delhi. I had gone to Calcutta. The defense minister had gone to Patna and from there he was to go to Bangalore in the south. The finance minister had gone to Bombay and was about to go to Poona. The head of the armed forces was somewhere else; I don’t remember where. We all had to rush back to Delhi, and for this reason our troops went on the counteroffensive only the next day, instead of in a few hours. For this reason the Pakistanis succeeded in occupying some areas. Naturally we were prepared; we knew that something would happen. But we were only really ready for air attacks. If it hadn’t been for that, they would have knocked us out.

Oriana: Mrs. Gandhi, you mentioned the trip you took to Europe and America to avert this conflict. Can you tell the truth today about what happened? How did things go with Nixon?

Indira and Nehru with Nixons

Indira and Nehru with Nixons

Indira: I made the trip knowing I was like the child putting his finger into the hole in the dike. And there are things that…I don’t know…one can’t ….oh, why not! The truth is that I spoke clearly to Mr. Nixon. And I told him what I had already told to Mr. Heath, Mr. Pompidou, Mr. Brandt. I told him, without mincing words, that we couldn7t go on with ten million refugees on our backs, we couldn’t tolerate the fuse of such an explosive situation any longer. Well, Mr. Heath, Mr. Pompidou, and Mr. Brandt had understood very well. But not Mr. Nixon. The fact is that when the others understand one thing, Mr. Nixon understands another. I suspected he 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.

However, 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 Nixon did anything but avert the war. It was useful only to me. The experience taught me that when people do something against you, that something always turns out in your favor. At least you can use it to your advantage. It’s a law of life – check it and you’ll see it holds true in every situation of life. 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.

Oriana: I don’t understand.

Indira: Let me explain. America always thought it was helping Pakistan. But if it hadn’t helped Pakistan, Pakistan would have been a stronger country. You don’t help a country by supporting a military regime that denies any sign of democracy, and what defeated Pakistan was its military regime. That regime supported by the Americans. Sometimes friends are dangerous. We must be very careful about the help friends give us.

Oriana: And of Chinese? The Chinese too were on Pakistan’s side, and unless I’m mistaken, China is the largest potential enemy of India.

Indira: No. I don’t see why we and the Chinese should have to be enemies. We don’t want to be their enemies. If that’s what they want, we can’t do anything about it, but I don’t think they really want it because I don’t think that in the final analysis it would do them any good. As for the position they held in this war…well, I think they’ve been more skillful than the Americans. Certainly they’ve had a lighter touch – had they wanted to, they could have done more for Pakistan. Isn’t that so? It was the Americans who sent the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal, not the Chinese. So as to take no chances, but I never believed the Chinese would intervene by making a false move. In other words, I never believed in the danger of a third world war. 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.

Oriana: It feels so strange to talk about war with you who were brought up in the cult of nonviolence, Mrs. Gandhi! I wonder how you’ve felt in these days of conflict.

Indira: You must keep in mind that it wasn’t my first war; I’ve had to face others. And anyway I’ll tell you a little story about nonviolence. 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 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. So our leaders decided to sign a document by which they bound themselves to go to war with Pakistan. And Mahatma Gandhi, apostle of nonviolence, signed along with them. Yes, he chose war. He said there was nothing else to do. War is inevitable when one must defend somebody or defend oneself.

Oriana: The point is I persist in seeing this war as a war between brothers. I even said so to General Aurora and General Niazi. And both of them answered, ‘Basically we are brothers.’

Indira: Not basically – entirely. The Indians and Pakistanis are literally brothers. 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. Or 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! It served only to divide families, to break them up. 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.

To become our enemies – what an absurdity. A crazy absurdity when you stop to think that we, Muslims and Hindus, had conducted the struggle for independence together. Yes, 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. But, 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.

Oriana: Bhutto says that he would be ready to set up a confederation with India. What do you think of that, Mrs. Gandhi?

Indira: You know…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. Here’s something that Westerners don’t know. 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.

But how is it possible for people in the modern world to go on killing each other for religion? The problems we should be concerned with nowadays are quite different! They’re the problems of poverty, of the rights of the individual, of the changes brought about by technology. They’re the ones that count, more than religion! Because they’re universal problems, because they pertain in equal measure to Pakistan and ourselves. I can’t take it seriously when people get excited and scream that religion is in danger, and similar stupidities. 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.

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?’ Look, I can only reply to Bhutto that, if he knows what he’s saying, he’s saying the only thing to be said. And if he didn’t say that, what would his future be? I’m told Bhutto is ambitious. I hope he’s very ambitious; ambition may help him see reality.

Oriana: To digress a moment, Mrs. Gandhi. You’re not religious, are you?

Indira: Well…it depends on what you mean by the word religion. Certainly I don’t go to temples and pray to the gods or anything like that. But if by religion we mean a belief in humanity rather than the gods, an effort to make man better and a little happier, then yes, I’m very religious.

Oriana: I hope that wasn’t an embarrassing question, Mrs. Gandhi.

Indira: No, why?

Oriana: This one is embarrassing, however. You’ve always proclaimed a policy of nonalignment, then last August you signed the Indo-Soviet friendship pact. Isn’t there a conflict between the two things?

Indira: No, I wouldn’t say so. Because 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. We know very well that India’s destiny is linked to world peace. However, the treaty exists, you say, 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. Still, in international matters, the treaty changes nothing. That is, it doesn’t prevent us from being friends with other countries, which indeed we are. It doesn’t prohibit us from practicing the same nonalignment, as indeed we do. And I assure you we’ll go on making our decisions without worrying whether it pleases or displeases the Soviet Union, China, America, France, or anyone else. Do you want to know something else? A month after the signing someone asked Chou En-lai what he thought of it. And Chou En-lai answered, ‘It makes no difference. I don’t see why it should make any difference.’

Oriana: Opening an Indian embassy in Hanoi in the near future does make a difference, however. In fact, you are head of the International Control Commission for Vietnam. What does this mean? That you’ll give up membership on the commission and your chairmanship?

Indira: I don’t know…Obviously the problem arises…But I still haven’t thought about how to resolve it. And to talk about this…Let’s talk about it anyway. Listen, 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.

Oriana: So are people right to think you’re more on the left than you father was?

Indira: Look, I don’t see the world as something divided between right and left. And I don’t at all care who’s on the right or left or in the center. Even though we use them, even though I use them myself, these expressions have lost all meaning. I’m not interested in one label or the other – I’m only interested in solving certain problems, in getting where I want to go. 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 want to succeed. And I want to succeed in the best way possible, without caring whether people call my actions leftist or rightist.

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. When we were first considering it, my party was disturbed by one trend in favor and one against. So as not to split the party, 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.

Oriana: However, you’ve used the word socialist on various occasions.

Indira: Yes, because it’s the closest to what I want to do. And because in all societies that have applied a form of socialism, a certain degree of social economic equality has been achieved. But 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.

Oriana: Mrs. Gandhi, what does the word socialism mean to you?

Indira: Justice. Yes, it means justice. It means trying to work in a more egalitarian society.

Oriana: But in the pragmatic sense, free of ideologies.

Indira: Yes. Because what good does it do to remain tied to an ideology if you don’t achieve anything by it? I have an ideology myself – you can’t work in a vacuum; you have to have faith in something. As my father said, you have to keep an open mind, but you have to pour something into it – otherwise ideas slip away like sand between your fingers. The fact that I have an ideology, however, doesn’t mean I’m indoctrinated. Nowadays you can no longer let yourself be indoctrinated – the world is changing so fast! Even what you wanted twenty years ago is no longer relevant today; it’s outdated.

Look, for me the only point that has remained unchanged through the years is that in India there is still so much poverty. A great part of the people still don7t enjoy the benefits they should have derived from independence – and so then what good does it do to be free? Not just to throw out the British. About this we were always clear. 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. Well, that evil has not been uprooted. After twenty years we’re politically free, but very far from having reached the objective we set for ourselves.

Oriana: So then what point have you reached?

Indira: That’s difficult to say because the point of arrival is continually shifting. Have you ever climbed a mountain? You see, once you arrive at the top of a mountain, you think you’ve reached the highest point. But it’s only an impression that doesn’t last long. 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.

I mean, 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. So look, when you govern a country, and especially a country so vast and complex as India, you never arrive at anything. 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.

Oriana: And you, Mrs. Gandhi – at what point have you arrived on this road?

Indira: At no point, at a very important point: that of having convinced the Indians that they can do things. 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. Oh, the word ‘when’ is so important for a people, for an individual! If an individual thinks he won’t do it, he’ll never do it. Even if he’s highly intelligent, even if he has countless talents. To become capable, one must have faith in oneself. Well, as a nation, I believe we’ve acquired faith in ourselves. And 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. Our pride has grown in the last twenty-five years, though others don’t understand it and underestimate it. 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.

Oriana: Have you really not also given your people pride. Mrs. Gandhi? You yourself are so proud.

Indira: No. On the contrary, I’m not. No.

Oriana: Of course you are. Wasn’t it an act of pride to refuse the aid the world offered you during the famine of 1966? I remember a ship loaded with grain, with food, that never left the port of Naples. And everything spoiled, while the people of India were dying.

Indira: I never heard about it. No, I didn’t know that the ship was loaded and ready to sail – otherwise I wouldn’t have refused it. But it’s true that I refused foreign aid. It’s true. It wasn’t my personal decision, however – it was the whole country that said no. And believe me, it happened by itself, all of a sudden. Yes, 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. I had to make myself the interpreter of that no, repeat it to those who wanted to help us. And it was hard for you, I understand. I think you were hurt by it. Sometimes we hurt one another without realizing it.

[To be continued in Part II]

Posted .

Filed under Sri Kantha.

No Responses to “Indira Gandhi: Interviewed by Orianna Fallaci”

  1. Roja Rasanayagam

    Thanks for this piece on Fallaci’s interview with Indira Ghandy.