After her mother died, in 1936, Gandhi became something of her father's hostess, learning to navigate complex relationships of diplomacy with some of the great leaders of the world.
Gandhi was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1960. After her father’s death, Gandhi was appointed minister of information and broadcasting. When her father’s successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died abruptly in 1966, India’s congress appointed her to the post of prime minister.
She surprised her father’s old colleagues when she led with a strong hand, sacking some of highest-ranking officials. Gandhi subsequently brought about great change in agricultural programs that improved the lot of her country’s poor. For a time, she was hailed as a hero.
In 1971, the Pakistan army conducted violent acts against the people of East Pakistan. Nearly 10 million people fled to India. Gandhi invited the Pakistani president to Shimla for a weeklong summit.
The two leaders eventually signed the Shimla Agreement, agreeing to resolve the dispute of Kashmir by peaceful means. Her work eventually led to the creation of the new and independent nation of Bangladesh.
Gandhi also led a movement that became known as the Green Revolution. In an effort to address the chronic food shortages that mainly affected the extremely poor Sikh farmers of the Punjab region, Gandhi decided to increase crop diversification and food exports as a way out of the problem, creating new jobs as well as food for her countrymen.
On October 31, 1984, a trusted bodyguard, who was part of a a Sikh separatist movement developed in India, assassinated Prime Minister Ghandi on TV.