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Saturday, June 25, 2011

lest we forget 25/6...

25/6/75 was the day Emergency was enacted in India under Indira Gandhi's premiership. A black day for Indian Democracy, it is important to recollect some of the characteristics and see how we score today.

If you look up, "India Emergency" on the WiKi, the page gives the criticism and accusation on Emergency period that includes the following:

Criticism and accusations of the Emergency-era may be grouped as:

  • Detention of people by police without charge or notification of families
  • Abuse and torture of detainees and political prisoners
  • Use of public and private media institutions, like the national television network Doordarshan, for propaganda
  • Destruction of the slum and low-income housing in ...Delhi.
  • Large scale and illegal enactment of laws
The Emergency years were the biggest challenge to India's commitment to democracy, which proved vulnerable to the manipulation of powerful leaders and large parliamentary majorities.
Now, look up the most recent news items and try and categorize the governance in recent times. 
- Tribals being evicted in the name of industrialization, 'development' and growth in almost every part of the country, in other parts there is either blissful negligence to address or deliberate ignorance of issues of the marginalized (which are as good as clamping a death warrant on them)
- Detention and Intimidation of people who protest the State, despite having a active Judiciary 
- The smear campaign that the government ran against Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare, et al continues unabated, thank God we do have some lever of independent media, however, they are shrinking in space by the day and there seems to be growing list of issues in which a general gag order is being placed through friendly suggestion and coercion to the media rather than a overt order to shut up (that is if you forget the bumping off of a random journo here and there).
- Laws that are slated for enactment (and many that are already in the process of getting implemented) in the coming days in the Parliament, will all pave way for a unchallenged corporate take over of the key services of the State, including education, food security,  health care, housing, social security and definitions of 'development'. 
I was too young to understand what was Emergency all about when it happened, but, whatever I have read since then gives me the impression that we seem to be dangerously close to the phenomena of emergency, except for some amount of independent media and an active judiciary now (and, of course, the uncensored internet!).  The images of very unlikely leaders who protest against the State and gather the public around them is similar. If the declaration of Emergency was a bold move by a desperate PM, the current PM has seems to invoke all that went under such a situation through gentle persuasion, blatant denial, covert brute force and bad cover up operation where it is visible. People never seemed to matter less to a government. The corruption charges against Indira Gandhi that the Allahabad High Court found valid is a speck of dust in comparison to the cosmos of corruption of the current set-up. 
There were many who supported Emergency (and regret/explain it for the rest of their lives). We need to ensure that the ranks of such is not swelling currently, while there are many who are touched by the large scale movements, there are many who are happily busy with their lives, to them, it is important to remind what happened during 25/6/75, lest history revisit us in a different form! 

1 comment:

chitra.nagesh said...

How well I remember that day with truck loads of soldiers going past my house and the excitement of elders and their heated and concerned discussions!
My thatha was an open critic of IG and he was under 'watch'.
As you said, the current one is the grand daddy of all!

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