GUWAHATI, Aug 30 - Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has been viewed as an iron lady with a dynamic political legacy. While much has been written, acknowledged and applauded about her political conquests, there is a lesser known aspect of her personality concerning her passion and love for Nature.
Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, author of the book Indira Gandhi: Life in Nature, has unveiled one of the nation�s greatest leader�s journey as an environmentalist and conservationist.
The book is an unconventional autobiography reflective of the real Indira Gandhi, her kinship with Nature and commitment to environmental causes.�
In a book discussion event at the Vivanta by Taj on Tuesday evening hosted by Balipara Foundation, Ramesh engaged in a conversation with Prof Arupjyoti Saikia from the IIT Guwahati, who is an environmental historian.�
Ramesh revealed details, chapters and insights from the book through the eyes of Indira Gandhi and said that the leader saw herself as �a child of Nature, who grew up in Nature, who lived with Nature and became a Prime Minister of Nature�.
He called her compelling, charismatic and controversial but an environmentalist at heart, who found her inner peace in the company of birds, plants and stones, staring at the universe of constellations, living in the hills and protecting the forests and wildlife of India.�
Talking about the book�s relevance today, Ramesh said, �The book forays into a chronological narration of events in the political history of the foundation of our green legacy through the lens of Indira Gandhi, which gives us an insight on today�s environmental structure, the laws and the institutions�.
Many breakthrough ecological reforms and environmental laws shaped up during her regime as the first and only woman Prime Minister of India. A �wildlife saviour�, she is the reason India�s wild tigers and forests have a lease of life. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Water Pollution Control Act, 1974 Air Pollution Control Act, 1981, and the Ministry of Environment were all instituted and enforced by her.�
In Ramesh�s words, �She saw herself as a reluctant politician, and despite grappling with national upheaval and a very tumultuous personal life, she managed to create a niche for Nature and found time to pursue her inner calling as a green ambassador�.�
Citing examples of her commitment towards nature, even as she was busy with the Seventh Non-Aligned Summit in Delhi, she took time out to write to the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan on protecting the Siberian cranes. She declared a ban on the felling of green trees in the Himalayas and encouraged introduction of environmental education and awareness. Conscious about poverty in the country and need for economic and social development, she frequently insisted on ecological balance and greater sensitivity towards the environment in planning for economic development.�
She was nationally and internationally an ecological pioneer, who was the only head of government to attend the UN�s first global conference on the human environment (UNCHE) Stockholm Conference in 1972 speaking about man and environment.�