International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Daughter of Destiny: Indira Gandhi

(Discussant) Kristen Moody, The George Washington University; (Chair) Jerrold M. Post, The George Washington University; (Session Organizer) Jessica Chaudhary, Yale Unive

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Yale University
Research Area: Leadership and political personality

Indira Gandhi, daughter of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, was born into a family of power and political connection.  In examining her rise to power, this paper will discuss generational and personality influences as well family expectations and engendered roles and conflicts, particularly those between wife and daughter.  The paper will examine Indira’s relationship with her father and grandfather, who stated at Indira’s birth that she may prove to be better than a thousand sons.  This paper will also explore Indira’s role both in filling the void created by her mother’s death as well as in filling the void created by the death of Mahatma Gandhi, who had served as Nehru’s confidante and political companion.  Arguably, Indira was torn by her responsibilities to her father and later to her husband, and transitioned from a shy but ambitious only child, growing to become a rebellious teenager and young adult, and finally emerging as the world’s longest serving prime minister, only to be assassinated by her own bodyguard.  The concept of the telescoping of generations is discussed, in which the parent’s and grandparent’s unconscious and conscious wishes for the child are transmitted via a narcissistic link.