23 Year Old's Thoughts on The Emergency - India Betwen 1975 and 1977

The Emergency - fancily called the darkest days of India happened about 40 years back. For most of us, we might not actually know what an emergency is because, since we were born (1992, 1992), we mostly would never have heard the word Emergency being used. I have to confess that I am no expert about ALL the facts and factoids and I am quite certain, I would have missed reading some. I will be saving a valuable 10 seconds of my life by using E instead of the word Emergency henceforth.

A significant information one should know before going ahead and reading this is that I am a huge fan of Indira Gandhi and she is one among the many that have seriously inspired me. Others being Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Kamal Hasan and J.K. Rowling. I admired Indira initially in my early ages for her looks. The lady as I saw her, was a bold, strong and able leader. Back in those days when it was a rarity to see women in the public walks of life, where it was a norm for women to stay indoors and engage in solely men-pleasing activities, there she was standing straight in the center of hundreds of men - the best part was that it was not for the obvious reasons. She commanded authority and she rose to a position of inspiration. She had won a huge war for India against Pakistan resulting in the creation of a new state of Bangladesh. She brought forth the Green Revolution which spurred agricultural productivity in India thereby negating the need for us to beg the United States for rice. She nationalized banks (a revolutionary move back in 1970s). She spearheaded Operation Blue Star that cleansed India of the armed terrorist group in Punjab. She remained strong and firmly committed to the country and greater good until she succumbed to the injuries of her guards' bullets. Reading her biography gave further insights into what kind of a woman/person Indira was. The book further pushed me to be inspired by her. I am inspired by that character attributes of Indira which resonated with probably how my views were aligned.

Anyways, coming to what I think about The E that was declared by Indira following the Allahabad High Court declaring her election void. She was an opportunist, she was cunning and played a huge gamble with her executive powers. With what she did, Indian politicians and the citizens still remember that Democracy will forever be the only way forward for India (any country for that matter).  During The E, Indira acted in a manner that ensured she did not have ANY hindrance on her way towards achieving what she did - this includes the Constitution. The Constitution, for any civilized country should be above all and cannot be compromised for personal goals or greater good. Any situation requires a thorough examination of how it was caused and why it was caused. Looking into the E gives us one big reason for why it was caused which was Indira's defeat in the court battle and the protests/revolts organized by Jayaprakash Narayan (fondly called "The Gandhi of Independent India) but other clinging factors did exist. The period when the E was proclaimed, the economy was in a bad shape, country faced severe governance issues, revolts/protests that followed the verdict crippled the execution of government and last but not the least Indira was in deep trouble. Any of these factors can never justify curtailing the fundamental rights of anyone but it did happen when the E was promulgated just before midnight of June 25, 1975.

Obviously, Indira removed those she thought were on her way by arresting, killing etc... Newspapers were heavily censored and media houses were practically shutdown. People were not allowed to criticize, speak up or be free. having enjoyed freedom for many years since British, we were not used to or it was unacceptable for us to suddenly bow in front of a greater power (that was visible, of course). It was a shock that shook India badly.

Although the most popular stand of The E was the anti-democratic scenarios that prevailed because of it, there were also some seriously notable good things that existed during the E. As The Times said back in 1975, "For a country living in a state of emergency, India seemed surprisingly normal last week. Shops remained open and crowds thronged the streets; trading continued on the stock exchanges and schools held classes; even the trains ran more or less on schedule. Indeed, for most of India's 600 million citizens, it apparently was business as usual. If anything, life in New Delhi seemed more orderly than ever: the typically mad swirl of traffic was restrained, and queues for buses were models of decorum." I remember when I spoke about The E to my grand dad and he said, if you worked for the government and if you weren't on time to the office, one had to face some real serious consequences. Bribery and corruption in all government offices went drastically down and in that period of 1975 - 1977, the country grew at a rate of 9% ad the per capita income increased by 5%.

History always teaches us lessons, knowing what Indira did or did not do, tells us what we should no do or not do. Improving lives and livelihoods of the impoverished can be done in several other ways and dictatorship is not the way to go. We did see India drastically reduce its poverty levels in the 21st century, we did see India grow to become the world's second largest growing economy, we do see what India is achieving in several sectors now - all these without someone like Indira. Back in those days when I read about The E, I believed, that the only hope for India to grow is if it is ruled by decree. Now, having known the world a little bit more than what I did back then, and having a little bit more knowledge on world affairs, I most certainly believe that dictatorship is never an answer. All said and done, what Indira did during The E cannot be justified.

I still admire her for the reasons that resonate with my views but at the same time I condemn her for her tyrannical rule.

Trains can run on time and people can come promptly at work without a dictator and that can happen. We are almost getting the trains in order now. It's high time people change their attitudes towards the work  they do.

PS: This blog post is just to give a perspective of The E from a 23 year old kid. The E might look like it's irrelevant now, but it surely is a standing reason why democracy is India's way to progress.

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