Indira Gandhi Quotes

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)

Portrait of Indira Gandhi
Portrait of Indira Gandhi. Bachrach/Getty Images

Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1984. Daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, a hero in winning independence from Britain, Indira Gandhi was also a follower of Gandhi in her early years. Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister in 1966, and her administration was often controversial. After using the military to put an end to a Sikh separatist operation, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh security guards in 1984.

Selected Indira Gandhi Quotations

• You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.

• Actions today mould our tomorrows.

• What matters is that we should achieve what we set out to do. (1977)

• Social change is brought about by those who dare and act, who can think unconventionally and who can court unpopularity. (1974)

• My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.

• Tolerance and compassion are active, not passive states, born of the capacity to listen, to observe and to respect others. They are founded on a reverence for life that shows itself in one's attitude to man and to the earth and to other creatures. This state of listening, observing, is to be alive; it is a state of understanding and it is the manifestation of a truly scientific mind that is mature with the quality of humanness.

Ends may vary but means must be based on the acceptance of man as the centre of all quest.  (1981)

• There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten. (1975 interview with Oriana Fallaci)

• I would say our greatest achievement is to have survived as a free and democratic nation.

• Let us not allow ourselves to be oppressed by frustration or misguided by anger into wrong action which will inevitably increase the burden on the common man, undermine the very foundations of democracy and imperil the well-being and happiness of us all. But let our concern lead us to constructive effort, to hard work, to co-operation. (1966)

• Our ancient philosophy speaks of right action. Life's journey should be in quest neither of power nor wealth but of inner worth.  The Gita says, "To action alone have you a right, not to its fruits."

• We want progress, we want development, but in such a way that it does not disrupt the life of the area, the looks of the area, the beauty of the region and does not alienate the people from their own surroundings.... (1975)

• Martyrdom does not end something, it is only a beginning.

• You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

• There are moments in history when brooding tragedy and its dark shadows can be lightened by recalling great moments of the past.

• Even if Indira Gandi dies, her blood would spring from the earth and thousands of Indiras will emerge to serve the people of the country. I say so because Indira Gandi is not the name of a mere woman but a philosophy which is wedded to the service of the masses.

the month she was assassinated, October 20, 1984

• I don't mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation. -- said the night before she was assassinated, October 30, 1984.

• To bear many children is considered not only a religious blessing but also an investment. The greater their number, some Indians reason, the more alms they can beg. (1975)

• It is not enough for a few at the top to reach outstanding ability. Performance at every level, even the very lowest, must be improved. All of us are part of the huge apparatus of the nation, the efficient working of which is dependent on the smooth functioning of every individual component. (1969)

• Ability, and not class or community or wealth, should determine what education a child should have, what school he or she should go to.

 (1966)

• The Himalayas have shaped our history; they have moulded our philosophy; they have inspired our saints and poets. They influence our weather. Once they defended us; now we must defend them. Our defence services are learning to know them and to love them. (1968)

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Indira Gandhi Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/indira_gandhi.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)