The majority of Indians today don’t know a heck of a lot about Mrs Indira Gandhi. Fact is that they were not even born when she ruled. Her descendants and her party, the Indian National Congress (how’s that for an oxymoron), continue her disastrous policies but Indians are mostly ignorant of how she ruthlessly set into motion India’s descent into serfdom. To reverse that slide, we have to start educating ourselves and our friends about what happened this week 37 years ago. Here are some sources for our edification.
- Start off with Kanchan Gupta’s column in the DailyPioneer.com titled “Democracy is alien to Dynasties.” Excerpts:
Thirty seven years ago this week, the Constitution was brutalised to turn India into a police state. One of the men who helped enforce Mrs Gandhi’s dictatorship is set to become the keeper of the Constitution
. . .
And so it was that although the Calcutta papers did not arrive on June 26, 1975, everybody [in Jamshedpur] knew by mid-morning of the events with cataclysmic consequences of the previous evening in faraway New Delhi. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had ‘recommended’ to President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed the declaration of Internal Emergency as she had information that there was “an imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbances”. The President had complied without a murmur of protest.
At the stroke of the midnight hour, civil liberties and fundamental rights had been suspended; censorship imposed; Opposition leaders arrested; and, dictatorship of the dynasty had replaced democracy of the people. India was in chains all over again, this time enslaved by its own. “Don’t talk to strangers,” parents instructed their teenaged children.
Over the next few days a strange fear descended upon the people of this country — the fear of being punished and persecuted by the Emergency regime through its many agents and agencies. The dreaded midnight knock became the metaphor of those dark, terrible days when friends stopped trusting friends, relatives shunned relatives, teachers squealed on students and vice versa, and censors eager to please Congress bosses decided what was fit to print.
Not everybody, though, was appalled . . . There were middle-class collaborators who, convinced that imitation was the best form of flattery, mimicked Sanjay Gandhi’s mannerisms and style of speech, and wore white kurta-pajamas similar to his. Hoodlums wore white kurtas over drainpipe pants and ran extortion rackets. Many people thought the Emergency was a good idea because trains ran on time and Vinoba Bhave endorsed Mrs Gandhi’s evil decision, calling the Emergency “Anushasan Parv”. Newspapers, barring honourable exceptions, caved in without a fight: Journalists, asked to bend, chose to crawl.
Meanwhile, dissent and its expression through protest was met with swift retribution. The RSS, which mobilised its vast network of swayamsevaks to launch an underground movement against Mrs Gandhi’s dictatorship, was banned. But that did not deter swayamsevaks from persisting with their movement that was described by The Economist as “the only non-left revolutionary force in the world … its platform at the moment has only one plank: To bring democracy back to India.” The only other organisation which led from the front in the fight-back was the Akali Dal. Mrs Gandhi tried to coopt the Akalis, but they rebuffed her gesture; for them, freedom was far more important than power.
The Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation were used for intimidating and harassing both rich and poor on mere suspicion of anti-Emergency activism. The Income Tax Department was instructed to let loose a reign of terror on trade union leaders. People were arrested and packed off to jail; many of them were brutally tortured to extract a confession that would serve the Emergency regime’s political interests — for instance, that he/she was a CIA agent.
The Constitution was slyly amended to declare India a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, an absurdity whose burden we are still forced to carry. To inspire confidence in the Supreme Leader, a massive Soviet-style propaganda offensive was launched. Billboards were put up with slogans like “The Leader is right, the nation’s future is bright!” In offices, including those in the private sector, Congress goons put up posters, urging people to “Work more, Talk less.” It was all very darkly reminiscent of the Third Reich.
Mrs Gandhi had the Supreme Court packed with handpicked ‘committed’ judges whose job it was to overturn the Allahabad High Court’s judgement of June 15, declaring her 1971 election as void and disqualifying her from contesting elections for the next six years. To demonstrate their ‘commitment’ to her, the judges also suspended the provision for habeas corpus without which India is no different from a police state ruled by a tin pot dictator.
. . .
Thirty-seven years later, the excesses of the Emergency era may appear too distant in the past to be worthy of recall. But to believe that would be incorrect. There has been no change in the attitude of the Congress and the party’s first family makes no effort to hide its unshakeable belief that it has the divine right to rule India, either directly or indirectly, and not be held accountable for the many sins of omission and commission of which the Nehru-Gandhis are guilty. Indeed, to forget the Emergency would be a grave injustice to those who suffered so that liberty and rights would be ours.
. . .
. . . [Mr Pranab Mukherjee] as Minister for Finance in those dark days he did Mrs Gandhi’s bidding and more than helped keep dissenters at bay through the expedient means of getting the Income Tax Department to ruthlessly hound them. Seen in this context, it’s only apt that he should resign from the Cabinet close to June 26, the 37th anniversary of Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency, to assume the charge of ‘Keeper of the Constitution of India’ as President of the Republic. [Italicized emphasis added.]
- Read the Wiki article “The Emergency (India)” for some details.
- Did you know that the so-called “Mother” Teresa supported Mrs Gandhi’s emergency? Not surprising is it? She liked supporting dictators and scam artists. I suppose she considered them her kin seeing that she was herself dictatorial and a big swindler.
The article would do with a bit of cleaning up, and adding Kanchan Gupta’s column as a reference. (If you have a moment, please help out. Thank you.)
It is high time that we started educating ourselves and then telling the Indian voter that much of India’s present troubles can be traced to the Nehru-Gandhi-Maino dynasty’s evil deeds. I would like to compile all of their misdeeds into one handy little volume for publication in every Indian language so that we are on our guard against the Dynasty.