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Indira Gandhi was a naturalist and a reluctant politician: Jairam Ramesh

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 11, 2018

Jairam Ramesh in conversation with Nanditha Krishna, President, CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, in Chennai on Thursday   -  M PRABHU

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi may have been viewed as an iron lady, but there is another lesser known dimension to her — a reluctant politician and a naturalist, said says Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament and former Union Minister.

Discussing his latest book, Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature, at an event organised by the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy her on Thursday, Ramesh said there is not much written about what she was as a person.

“The sole objective of the book is to discover Indira Gandhi through her own eyes. To answer who she thought she was and whom she believed herself to be.”

According to Ramesh, Gandhi was a reluctant politician who grew up in politics and did not know how to get out. She was also a naturalist, who was passionate about nature, which comes through the green initiatives taken during her period in office, Ramesh said.

Most of her policies, he said, focussed on maintaining the ecological balance. India never had a Wildlife Protection Act, which prohibits shooting of animals, until 1972 when Gandhi passed the bill. Important wildlife sanctuaries such as Kalakkad and Bharatpur, and a legal framework to protect nature were introduced when she headed the government. The Clean Water Act and the Forest Protection Act were also along those lines. She instituted the Wildlife Institute of India.

Ramesh said: “It is not just that. She was the first Prime Minister to talk about climate change in 1972 during the Stockholm Conference, when environment was not a major political issue like it is now.”

But yes, he agreed that there were times when she took a wrong call, like the Kudremukh project in partnership with Iran, which was termed an ecological disaster.

Despite that, Ramesh emphasised that as opposed to the authoritarian image, when it comes to matters concerning nature, she was anything but that.

Published on July 06, 2017

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