Where did the baby name Indira come from in 1966?

Indian politician Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
Indira Gandhi

The baby name Indira not only first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1966, but it was the top debut name of of the year.

  • 1970: 20 baby girls named Indira
  • 1969: 14 baby girls named Indira
  • 1968: 16 baby girls named Indira
  • 1967: 17 baby girls named Indira
  • 1966: 43 baby girls named Indira [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted

Why? Because in January of 1966, Indira Gandhi — no relation to Mahatma Gandhi — became the third Prime Minister of India.

She succeeded the former Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who had died suddenly on January 11 while overseas in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She was elected on January 19th and assumed office on January 24th.

Indira was the only child of India’s very first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. She was named after her great-grandmother Indrani (a.k.a. Jeorani) and was called “Indu” by family members. The name Indira means “beauty” in Sanskrit.

So far, Indira Gandhi has been the only female Prime Minister of India. She served from 1966 to 1977, then again from 1980 until 1984, when she was assassinated.

Source: Two Alone, Two Together: Between Indira Gandhi & Jawaharlal Nehru, 1922-1964. Ed. Sonia Gandhi. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2004.

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