Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sherlock Holmes is Published in Book Form (1892) & Indira Gandhi is Assassinated (1984)

On this date in 1892, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is published by Arthur Conan Doyle.

This was the first collection of the iconic detective’s stories in book form, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887. Conan Doyle was born in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he met Dr. Joseph Bell, a teacher with extraordinary deductive power. Bell partly inspired Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes years later. After medical school, Conan Doyle moved to London; where his slow medical practice left him ample free time to write. His first Sherlock Holmes story, "A Study in Scarlet," was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Starting in 1891, a series of Holmes stories appeared in The Strand magazine, and Conan Doyle was able to give up his medical practice and devote himself to writing. Later collections include The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905), and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (1827). In 1902, Conan Doyle was knighted for his work with a field hospital in South Africa. In addition to dozens of Sherlock Holmes stories and several novels, Conan Doyle wrote history, pursued whaling, and engaged in many adventures and athletic endeavors. After his son died in World War I, Conan Doyle became a dedicated spiritualist. He died in 1930.

On this date in 1984, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated in New Delhi by two of her own bodyguards.

Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, both Sikhs, emptied their guns into Gandhi as she walked to her office from an adjoining bungalow. Although the two assailants immediately surrendered, they were both shot in a subsequent scuffle, and Beant died. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, attempted to forge a unified nation out of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural factions that existed under British rule until 1949. His daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi), rose to power in 1966, fighting many of the same problems as her father had. Her own political career was a roller coaster, from the highs following India's victory over Pakistan in 1971 to the lows of being thrown out of office in 1977 after declaring a state of emergency in 1975, during which time she suspended civil liberties and jailed her political opponents. Although many criticized her for being authoritarian, the majority of the population supported her because of her extensive social programs. In 1980, Gandhi became prime minister again, enjoying fairly widespread popularity. However, in June 1984, she ordered an army raid on a Sikh temple in Punjab to flush out armed Sikh extremists, setting off a series of death threats. Due to the fear of assassination, Beant Singh, her longtime bodyguard, was to be transferred because he was a Sikh. However, Gandhi personally rescinded the transfer order because she trusted him after his many years of service. Obviously, this was a fatal mistake for both of them.Satwant Singh, who survived to stand trial, was convicted in 1986 and executed in 1989. Following Gandhi's assassination, riots broke out in New Delhi. More than 1,000 innocent Sikhs were killed in indiscriminate attacks over the course of two days. Gandhi's son, Rajiv, succeeded her as prime minister.

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