National Integration Day in India Date in the current year: November 19, 2024

National Integration Day in India National Integration Day (Quami Ekta Divas, sometimes also translated as National Unity Day) is an Indian celebration held annually on November 19. It commemorates the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi, the first and only female prime minister of India.

The main goal of National Integration Day is to promote peace, integration, and unity between all the different ethnic and religious groups that make up Indian society. It is observed on Indira Gandhi’s birthday because she has been chosen as the embodiment of the good intentions of the holiday.

Although National Integration Day is not a public holiday, it is widely celebrated across the country. Indian schools, colleges and universities hold various events and activities to honor Gandhi’s legacy and promote multiculturalism, tolerance, and unity.

Indira Gandhi was the daughter of the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, but she was also famous in her own right. She was the first (and, as of 2022, the only) female prime minister of India, as well as the second-longest serving prime minister of the country after her father.

Indira Gandhi was born Indira Nehru on November 19, 1917. Throughout her childhood, Indira had little contact with her father, who was too busy leading the Indian independence movement; they communicated mostly through letters. Upon her graduation from high school, she studied at Visva-Bharati (a college founded by Rabindranath Tagore) and at the University of Oxford.

It was during her time in Europe that Indira met her future husband, journalist and freedom fighter Feroze Gandhi (not related to Mahatma Gandhi). They first met when she was a teenager and got married in 1942, even though Indira’s father opposed the marriage. Less then six month into their marriage, Indira and Feroze were arrested and imprisoned for protesting against British rule in India.

Following India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru became the country’s first prime minister, and Indira served her father unofficially as his personal assistant. Her political career began in earnest in the late 1950s, when she served as the president of the Indian National Congress, the ruling party of India led by Nehru.

Following Nehru’s death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the new prime minister and appointed Gandhi as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Shastri died in January 1966, and Gandhi was chosen as the new leader of the party, becoming the first female prime minister of India.

Other Indian political leaders though that Gandhi, being a woman, was weak, and hoped to use her as their puppet. However, during her first tenure as prime minister Gandhi evolved into a strong leader who was not afraid to make tough decisions such as going to war with Pakistan or declaring a countrywide state of emergency. Gandhi’s first tenure ended in 1977, but she returned to power three years later and served for four more years before being assassinated on October 31, 1984.

Although many of Gandhi’s political decisions, especially The Emergency, were controversial, the power of her legacy can’t be denied. In 2020, TIME named her among the world’s 100 most powerful woman who defined the 20th century.

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