Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank - review by John Grigg

John Grigg

Politics Was in Her Blood

Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi


HarperCollins 504pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Her Nehru grandfather, Motilal, made his fortune as a brilliant barrister practicing in Allahabad, though the Nehrus were by origin Kashmiri Brahmins who had established them elves in Delhi in the seventeenth century. Intensely Anglophile, Motilal gave his children an English education. Jawaharlal was sent to school at Harrow, and then on to Trinity College, Cambridge. When he returned to India as a young man he was almost a stranger in his own country, and it was said that he dreamt in English for the rest of his life. Later he would describe himself as the last Englishman to rule India, and it was only half a joke._
In one important respect, however, his early life was not Westernised. His father chose a wife for him and he accepted the choice with only a feeble show of protest. Kamala Kaul was another Kashmiri Brahmin, only twelve when the marriage was arranged and seventeen when it took place.

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