Emergency : Child of the oblivious Congress : Indian National Congress , the party which has the honor of ruling the country for most of the post-independence period , conveniently forgets , “saga of emergency”.
Distastefully remembering 42nd anniversary of the black day of the Indian democracy –June the 26, 1975 should be the last matter which any Indian citizen would want to do on the day. There emerged an assassin of the Indian democratic society. Emergency! The then Prime Minister of India resorted to the constitutional means to sabotage the fabric of democratic society by invoking the most powerful device-Articles in the Constitution of India, Article 352 and 356. Prima facie the case in fact was to save her own seat of power i.e. Lok Sabha membership and the Prime Ministership which had come to an end as a result of a judicial order issued by the Allahabad High Court in 1975.
( Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/the-emergency-of-1975-an-academic-inquest/an article by Dr.Lokendra Malik published on 24 June 2015 ).
According to an article by Rishabh Banerji published on 25 June 2016 in ‘Indiatimes.com’, the following were the reasons which precipitated the imposition of ‘emergency’ in 1975.
1. This was India's 3rd emergency since its Independence telling us how unstable political conditions were.
2. The 1971 war with Pakistan left the country in a bad state. Problems like drought and oil crisis made the economy suffer which led to a rise in tension levels.
3. Strikes and protests everywhere and the rise of a political opposition were responsible for the economic tumble.
4. During this time, Indira Gandhi came out with a 20-point program to help the economy and fight poverty and illiteracy.
5. Censorship played a huge role. It was imposed on the press, cinema and other forms of art, and political leaders were being arrested at the whim and fancy of the government.
6. Political leaders and protesters started going underground but still carried on their protests. The Gandhis were going overboard with the power.
7. Elections were postponed.
8. Mrs.Indira Gandhi thought the existing laws of the country were too slow. So she took it upon herself to re-write the law.
9. She was ruling by decree and was criticised heavily for her actions, and ,
10. The first Lok Sabha election that took place after the emergency in 1977 saw Janata Party oust the Gandhis.
The bluff :
Shrewd Mrs. Indira Gandhi wasted no time in pacifying the poor ( and innocent ) masses by announcing populist welfare measures and at the same time struck tough political decisions in the name of national interests. ‘Garibi Hatao’ was a programme announced for the poor. It was a great faun pass .
Time line of emergency :
State under duress :
The FIR against the government in 1975 , records ( as if it were ) the crime was the then Prime Minister was belittling the relevance of the political institutions set up by the Constitution of India causing irreparable damage to the State . Ultimately the uncertain era came to an end. It is against this backdrop , one has to study the events and further analyze these. It is the same political party which led to the shameful events in the society and pushed the society into chaos , and has conveniently and shamelessly been making hue and cry over the ‘status report’ of the country as at present. The Indian State and the society cannot be misled by the culprits’ wild cry. Most unfortunately , the culprits have no remorse. They are not prepared for introspection of any sort. However , the Indian State is on a solid foundation of ancient cultural and spiritual heritage. Several invasions from different quarters of the world , esp. from Mongols , later the East India Company from the West , defiled the polity here in India, but none of these could succeed .
The lessons :
Yet, ‘emergency’ has taught important lessons to the Indian citizenry . The middle class in the society realized the necessity and the significance of the political and the institutional values such as parliamentary elections , freedom of the political parties . The society and the individuals realized the necessity of the regulatory measures to keep the State and the Executive under check lest the mobility of the citizenry is jeopardized . The other side in the political process i.e. the opposition political parties realized their vitality and strength in taming the ruling clique. The elite too realized that mere economic progress or its assurances do not quench the thirst of liberty.
The lessons are for the ‘opposition’ !. Unbridled , indecent, populist shortsighted promises, rising intolerance on the part of the participants in the political process , growing mutual distrust, criminal manipulative behavioral activities of the political workers –all these characteristics in the political or social processes need a hard relook and improvement on the part of the ‘political and social opposition’ to facilitate the smooth journey of the democratic norms and process in India.
Yet another significant reference could be cited . “First lesson of Emergency is that it is extremely difficult to do away with democracy in India. Secondly, it brought out some ambiguities regarding the Emergency provision in the Constitution that have been rectified since. Secondly , an amendment was carried that ‘internal’ emergency can be proclaimed only on the grounds of ‘armed rebellion’ and it is necessary that the advice to the President to proclaim emergency must be given in writing by the Council of Ministers. Thirdly, the Emergency made everyone more aware of the value of civil liberties. The Courts too, have taken an active role after the emergency in protecting the civil liberties of the individuals.” ( Source : ‘Crisis in Democratic Order’ Chapter 6 , p. 118, ncert.nic.in/ncerts/l/leps206. NCERT)
It is interesting to note that the authority of the ‘executive’ all over the world is being eroded , in India it is exceedingly on wider scale. It will not be an exaggeration to state that in India esp. after the present government under the leadership of Narendra Modi took over the reigns of power in 2014 , the ‘executive’ is seen paralyzed with a persistent misleading and frivolous agitation attacks.
Dubious media :
Media is found on the fore-front in carrying out virulent and personal humiliating attacks on political executives of different political parties. The entire focus is aimed at Narendra Modi. The attack is characterized by the provocative and instigating tone. The attack is on such a enormously vicious scale that it invites suggestions of imposing regulatory measures against the uncontrolled media esp. the electronic , from the disgusted citizenry.
Liberty is a larger issue. The question is , whose liberty at what cost and to what extent ? Does the democratic order contemplate a situation which envisages the fourth estate circumscribing and belittling the liberty of the other three pillars ? The assuring fact is that all the four pillars under the Constitution of India are quite safe under the Modi government. Perhaps it is felt that the society is suffering from excessive liberal attitudes under Modi government.
The Difference : Emergency and Present
The political conditions 42 years ago in India and today at present are in way different except that the opposition political parties in 1975 fought for eternal basic human values , and today, one single party and an ‘known Hindutwawadi’ worker in Narendra Modi’s person is unconstitutionally targeted and political confusion and chaos is systematically encouraged . In 1975 , during the emergency , the opposition political parties fought united against dictatorial regime of a political leader who squeezed democratic norms unconstitutionally. Today, the defeated and electorally trounced remnant opposition esp. the ‘dynasty’, facing a possible wipe-out fate , has become restless and therefore instigating other remnants to spread violence on roads and streets thereby destabilizing the constitutionally elected government. In 1975 , there were great personalities like Indrajit Gupta, Jyoti Basu, Jay Prakash Narayan, A.K.Gopalan , Madhu Limaye , and several others who cherished different political philosophies and yet were united in upholding human values . In 1975, the opposition and the society too were powerfully idealist aiming at restoring democratic order and human values. Today , at present , a few disgruntled rich leaders are on the job of instigating ‘purchased/hired’ small splinter groups, forcing them to pose as the freedom fighters against Modi regime.
One has also to keep in mind that in emergency , the ‘ruling clique’ had absolutely no political and democratic mandate whereas the Narendra Modi regime has constitutionally valid popular mandate. The ‘big decisions’ in the field of economic and social development by the present government are not only supported by the electorate in India in 2014 but subsequently too continued to seal it in the vast federation. “Emergency” government then in 1975 , desired the judiciary and the civil service to be a ‘loyal and committed’ one to the political leadership and not to the ‘law’ in vogue . Today , Modi government has goaded the civil service to look to the development goal of the poor and needy ones. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called himself as the nation’s ‘pradhan sevak’. Narendra Modi’s versatile approach to the multi-pronged development policy and programmes for the nation’s progress has been quite a superior level than that of the one in “emergency”. One has to keep in mind that most of the addresses delivered by Narendra Modi to the civil service and the electorate and even the international audiences contain social and cultural contents yet aim at economic development. The suggestion is that politics and economics alone is not everything to vie for.
Compared to the dictatorial rule of the period of ‘emergency’, the continued mandate to Narendra Modi is the certificate for his untiring attitude of “ nation first”.