Rajiv Gandhi Early LifeRajiv Gandhi the seventh Prime Minister of Independent India was born on August 20th in 1944 in the city of Mumbai born to Feroze and Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of Independent India. Rajiv Gandhi had a very strong political background. His father Feroze was one of the youngest members of the then Indian National Congress party.
It was then while working on party affairs at Allahabad he made friends with Indira Gandhi and her mother Kamala Nehru and soon became very close to Indira Gandhi and got married. But however initially there were lot of objections from the Nehru family because of Feroze religion Zoroastrianism. Once they were married Indira Gandhi gave birth to her eldest son Rajiv Gandhi in 1944 and it was the time when both his parents were in and out of British prisons.
So in 1947 after the independence Feroze and Indira Gandhi settled in Allahabad and after moved to Lucknow where Feroze became the editor of the National Herald newspaper which was founded by Motilal Nehru. But slowly the marriage between Feroze and Indira Gandhi was loosening its strength and by 1949 Indira Gandhi along with her two sons Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi left Lucknow and went to Delhi to live with her father Nehru and assist him in all his political duties thereby acting as an official hostess.
Rajiv Gandhi first studied at Welham Boys' School in Dehra Dun and later went to the prestigious Doon School in Dehradun. Then in the year 1961 Rajiv Gandhi went to London to do his A-level and after two years he was offered a place in at Trinity College, Cambridge, to study engineering. Rajiv Gandhi was there for a period of three years until 1965.
Then he returned to India and acquired a commercial pilot's license and, beginning in 1968, worked for Indian Airlines while his mother Indira Gandhi was already the Prime Minister of India since 1966. It was during Rajiv Gandhi's study in the Cambridge University he met Albina Maino (Sonia Gandhi) who was working as a waitress in a Greek restaurant. They both decided to get married.
Finally in the year 1968 Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi got married according to the Hindu traditional way. After their marriage in 1968 the couples were blessed with two children Rahul Gandhi who was born in 1970 and Priyanka Vadra who was born in 1972. Though Rajiv Gandhi had a strong and an influential political background as he was from the Nehru family, but still avoided his involvement in politics for Sonia just took care of the family while Rajiv Gandhi worked as an airline pilot. When Indira Gandhi was expelled from office in 1977 in the consequences or after-effects of the Indian Emergency, the Rajiv family decided to move abroad for a short time.
Entry of Rajiv Gandhi into PoliticsIt was only after the death of Rajiv Gandhi's younger brother Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash on 23 June 1980, he was forced by the politicians of the Congress party and his mother and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But both Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were not very keen on entering into politics for he even gave public statements saying that he would not contest for his brother's seat.
But however he was moved by pressure given to him from all sides and finally announced his candidacy for Parliament. In June 1981 he was elected in a by-election to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) and in the same month became a member of the national executive of the Youth Congress. Rajiv Gandhi who was a very close friend of the then sports minister Sardar Buta Singh who was the President of the Asian Games Organizing Committee also insisted on Rajiv Gandhi becoming the member of the Asian Games Organizing Committee in 1982.
He fought his first election from Sanjay's erstwhile Amethi Lok Sabha seat, a Nehru-Gandhi fortification, and defeated Sharad Yadav. Rajiv Gandhi was slowly gettiing groomed up for the post of Prime Minister after his mother's tenure and as the first step of it he became the president of the Indian Youth Congress, the Congress party's youth wing.
When Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh his close peer Sardar Buta Singh and the then President of India Zail Singh forced Rajiv Gandhi to become the Prime Minister of India, immediately after his mother's assassination. Thus Rajiv Gandhi succeeded her and became the President of the Congress party and also faced a land slide victory in the Lok Sabha election and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India. Rajiv Gandhi once he became the Prime Minister of India he groomed India for the twenty first century by developing all modern technologies and to swipe off poverty and the vast inequities of power and wealth which are to be found in Indian society.
Rajiv Gandhi's Policies and AchievementsRajiv Gandhi took a major step to improve the economic policies of India by aiding more help and support for science and technology and associated industries, and reduced import quotas, taxes and tariffs on technology-based industries, especially computers, airlines, defense and telecommunications. Rajiv Gandhi also came up with a number of new policies for department of Education.
In 1986 he founded the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya System. This institution was under the influence of the Central Government whose main idea was to focus on the promotion of the rural section of the society providing them free residential education from 6th till 12 grades. There were lot of steps taken to reduce the Licence Raj, in post-1990 period, allowing businesses and individuals to purchase capital, consumer goods and import without bureaucratic restrictions.
Rajiv Gandhi moved out of the way from his mother Indira Gandhi's socialism were he improved bilateral relations with the United States - long strained owing to Indira's socialism and friendship with the USSR - and expanded economic and scientific cooperation. Rajiv Gandhi initiated a number of Security policies when there was a number of allegations of human rights violations by police officials as well as by the militants during this period.
It is claimed that even as the situation in Punjab came under control, the Indian government was offering arms and training to the LTTE rebels fighting the government of Sri Lanka which later became a big controversy. In order to help the Sri Lankan Government Rajiv Gandhi bound the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka so as to diminish the activities of the militants who were fighting for a separate Tamil homeland. Rajiv Gandhi was the recipient of Bharat Ratna in 1991 which is the highest civilian award of the Republic India which is conferred based on exceptional performance and service.
In the same year he also received the Indira Gandhi prize for peace, disarmament and development. However apart from his achievements there were also some black money allegations on him stating that Rajiv Gandhi held 2.5 billion Swiss francs in secret Indian accounts in Switzerland. This was a big issue which was raised by the opposition party in India according to the issue which was cited in the Schweizer Illustrierte article.
According to a Swedish Radio broadcast in 1987, it was reported that an illicit payment was made to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and other top Indian politicians for selling artillery guns to the Indian Army. It was also said that Ottavio Quattrrocchi who had a close friendly proximity to Gandhi family was behind all the transactions happened regarding the Bofors scandal. In fact when this issue was raised in the Indian Parliament by Amal Datta , the then speaker of Lok Sabha Shivraj Patil obliterated Rajiv Gandhi's name from the proceedings.
Controversies and Rajiv Gandhi's AssassinationRajiv Gandhi lost in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections because there were lot of allegations on him which was all impaired with scandals and corruptions especially the perception of the people that Rajiv Gandhi received "kick-backs" from a Swedish company manufacturing Bofors machine-guns. Rajiv Gandhi was also talked about on various scandals and riots like Anti-Sikh riots, Sri Lanka policy, Allegations of black money and funding from the KGB military service.
All these backfired and finally and he as to resign from the posting of Prime Minister in 1989 and V.P. Singh became the Prime Minister of India. During his campaigning in Sriperumbudur a place 40kms away from Chennai in Tamil Nadu on May 21st in 1991 he was killed in a bomb blast planned by the conspirators of the Tamil Tigers which consisted of Tamil militants from Sri Lanka and their Indian counterparts.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (RGKR) is given for achievement in sports and is supposed to be India's highest honoured award. This is mainly named after the late Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India and as tribute paid to him. The award includes a medal, a scroll of honour and a substantial cash component. Up to 2004-05, the cash component was Rs. 500,000/- (c.11, 500 USD).The money has been increased from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 750,000.