Rajiv Gandhi's first impulse was to stay out of the family business, namely the governance of India; both his grandfather and his mother had been Prime Minister. But it was the death of his brother Sanjay in an air crash in June 1980 which made him abandon his job at Indian Airlines and follow in his mother's footsteps.
Problem is, he followed a little too closely; she was assassinated in October 1984, and he in May 1991. In the intervening years, though, he did his part towards modernizing one of the world's oldest cultures (not to mention secularizing a country too often awash in sectarian strife). India's burgeoning middle class owes itself to the soft-spoken, Cambridge-educated Jewel of India, born on this day in 1944.
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