Prime Minister Indira Ghandi (1917 - 1984) is never named in A Fine Balance. She was Prime Minister for three consecutive terms, from 1966 to 1977, and was elected for a fourth term in 1980, which she held until her assassination in 1984.
Indira Ghandi was India's first and only female Prime Minister. She was born in India, but studied in England during the 1930s and spent some time in Switzerland in the 1940s, recovering from a lung disease. She returned to India with her husband to be, Feroze Khan, and both joined the Quit India Movement in 1942, which led to their arrest.
In 1967 she initiated a nuclear program, and in 1974 India performed its first successful underground nuclear test. Ghandi insisted the test was for peaceful purposes, but many countries were worried about India's new status as a nuclear power.
Indira Ghandi's time in power was filled with crisis and controversy, not least the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War. The war was triggered by the Bangladesh Liberation war, in which East Pakistan (Bangladesh) gained independence. An estimated 10 million refugees fled from East Pakistan into India, causing financial hardship and instability in the country. The war is a central element of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Here is Indira Ghandi talking about the situation:
Indira Ghandi lost power in 1977 when the Janata Party was elected. She was re-elected in 1980, but was assassinated by one of her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.