The most urgent problems facing Rajiv Gandhi when he assumed office in Oct 1984 were the Punjab, Congress Party reform, the economy and relations with Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Halfway through his five-year term his record is mixed. He is not a politician by instinct, but he may yet develop political skill to enable him to lead India into the 21st century.
Indira Gandhi's assassination on October 31, 1984, marked the passing of the generation that brought India to independence. Mrs. Gandhi was nourished, almost from birth, on the Congress Party's struggle against the British, and was particularly influenced by her party's close links with British socialism in the 1930s. She was deeply suspicious of the business class, even though it supported her with millions of rupees. She was convinced that only if the nation's industry, agriculture and services were closely guided by the state would equity and justice be assured. Wary of "imperialist" pressures on India--political, educational and economic--she never relinquished her belief that "foreign hands" sought to undermine not only Indian stability and independence but her personal political power as well. Although the United States seemed most often to be the target of her concern, the Soviets, British, Chinese, French and most of her South Asian neighbors were also frequently suspect.