This Week in History from FPJ Archives: Change of leadership - from Indira Gandhi to Barack Obama

11:22 AM Jan 19, 2021 | Anwesha Mitra

Joe Biden will take oath as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday - the latest in a long line of leaders to be sworn in around the same time, albeit in different years. Since the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, January 20 has been earmarked as the day of the United States presidential inauguration - unless it was a Sunday. But a quick look through the history books reveal that it is not just the US that made administrative changes around this time.

This article looks at two people who made history even as they assumed the responsibility of leading their country. More specifically, we looked at various historical events that have taken place between January 18 and January 24 in different years - pulling out two instances from different countries, nearly 50 years apart. Take a look at how The Free Press Journal covered the appointment of Barack Obama (the first African-American US President) in 2009 and the election of Indira Gandhi (the first woman to become Prime Minister of India) in 1966.


Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister of India

On January 19, 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected leader of the Congress party in Parliament, defeating Morarji Desai by an "overwhelming majority of 186 votes in the historic contest for the leadership of the nation". Not only the first woman to assume the post of PM, at 49, she was also India's youngest Prime Minister.


"Indira Gandhi elected leader. First woman to be India's PM. Morarji loses by big margin," read The Free Press Journal's front page headlines on January 20.

Barack Obama becomes US President

On January 20, 2009 Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And while he would be sworn in for a second term on January 21, 2013, the focus of this particular article is on his first term.

"Obama inherits house built by slaves," read a headline on the front page of The Free Press Journal on January 20, 2009. The entirety of the World page of the newspaper on that day was focused on coverage of Obama's epoch-making inauguration. As Obama's deputy, Joe Biden too finds mention on several occasions in the newspaper.

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