- The Emergency (India)
: "See also
State of Emergency in India"
The Indian Emergency of [25th June 1975–21st March 1977] was a 21-month period, when President
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, upon advice by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, declared a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, effectively bestowing on her the power to rule by decree, suspending elections and civil liberties. It is one of the most controversial periods in the history of independent India.
Opponents had long made allegations that Indira's party, Congress, had practiced electoral fraud to win the 1971 elections. The
Gandhiansocialist Jaya Prakash Narayanhad been agitating in Biharfor a change in provincial government, and increasingly sought to direct popular action against the Central Government through " satyagrahas".
Narayan and his supporters sought to unify students, peasants, and labour organisations in a 'Total Revolution' to nonviolently transform Indian society. Indira's party was defeated in
Gujaratby a coalition of parties calling itself the Janata Party(People's Party), and even faced an all-party, no-confidence motion in Parliament.
The Allahabad conviction
Raj Narain, who had been recently defeated in the parliamentary election by Indira Gandhi, lodged cases of election fraud and use of state machinery for election purposes on Mrs Gandhi in Allahabad High Court. On June 12 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinhaof the Allahabad High Courtfound the Prime Minister guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years. Ironically some serious charges such as bribing voters and election malpractices were dropped and she was held guilty on comparatively less important charges such as building of dais by state police and provision of electricity by the state electricity department and height of the dais from which she addressed the campaign rally. Some of these charges were in reality an essential part for the Prime Minister's Security protocol. Further one other point for which she was held responsible for misusing the government machinery was a government employee, Mr. Yashpal Kapoor, started campaigning for her before his resignation from government service was accepted. Because the court unseated her on comparatively frivolous charges, while she was acquitted on more serious charges, " The Times" described it as 'firing the Prime Minister for a traffic ticket'. However, strikes in labor and trade unions, student unions and government unions swept across the country. Protests led by Narayan and Morarji Desaiflooded the streets of Delhiclose to the Parliament building and the PM's residence.
Declaration of Emergency
As the constitution requires, Indira advised and President Ahmed approved the continuation of Emergency over every six-month period until her decision to hold elections in 1977.
The Emergency Administration
Elections for the Parliament and state governments were postponed. Invoking article 352 of the
Indian Constitution, Indira granted herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on civil liberties and political opposition. The Government cited threats to national security, as a recent war with Pakistanhad just been concluded. It claimed that the strikes and protests had paralyzed the government and hurt the economy of the country greatly. Indira herself had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Indiaand had no legal obligation to resign until then. In face of massive political opposition, desertion and disorder across the country and the party, Indira stuck to the advice of a few close party loyalists and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi, who had become a close political advisor.
The Government used police forces across the country to arrest thousands of protestors and strike leaders. J.P. Narayan, Morarji Desai,
Charan Singh, Jivatram Kripalani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advaniand other protest leaders were immediately arrested. Organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghand opposition political parties were banned. Innumerable Communist leaders and masses were arrested and brutally tortured.
Indira attempted to re-write the nation's laws with the help of the Parliament, where the Congress controlled over a two-thirds majority. She felt her powers were not amassing quickly enough, so she utilized the President to issue "extraordinary laws" that bypassed parliament altogether, allowing her to
rule by decree. She constructed a 20-point economic program to increase agricultural and industrial production, improve public services and fight poverty and illiteracy. Also, she had little trouble in making amendments to the constitution that exonerated her from any culpability in her election fraud case, declaring President's Rulein Gujaratand Tamil Naduwhere anti-Indira parties ruled (state legislatures were thereby dissolved and suspended indefinitely), and jailing thousands of opponents. Many of the opposition leaders were tortured in jail, some till death. Slums were demolished at midnight and in heavy rains in Delhi, and when the people protested, firing orders were issued to police.
One of the causes of the Emergency era was that the Supreme Court of India ordered that, although the Constitution is subject to amendment (as used by Indira), changes that are
ultra viresto its basic structure cannot be made by the Parliament of India.
Elections of 1977
Janata Party, Jaya Prakash Narayan, Morarji Desai
On January 23, 1977, Indira Gandhi called fresh elections for March and released all political prisoners. Emergency officially ended on March 23, 1977.
It is suggested that official intelligence sources told the Prime Minister that her administration was popular across the country. It has also been known that Indira feared that Field Marshall
Sam Manekshaw, then Chief of Army Staff threatened to depose her if she did not immediately call electionsFact|date=February 2007, even though Maneckshaw denied any intentions in a later interview to The Times of India.
Janata movement's campaign warned Indians that the elections might be their last chance to choose between “democracy and dictatorship.” In the elections, held in February, Indira and Sanjay both lost their Lok Sabha seats, as did most of their loyal followers. Many Congress Party loyalists deserted Indira, who herself lost her constituency seat. The Congress was reduced to just 153 seats, 92 of which were from four of the southern states. The Janata Party's 295 seats (of a total 542) gave it only a slim majority, but opposition candidates together represented more than two-thirds of the Lok Sabha.
Morarji Desaibecame the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.
The efforts of the Janata administration to try government officials and Congress politicians for Emergency-era abuses and crimes were largely a flop due to a disorganized, over-complex and politically-motivated process of litigation. Although special tribunals were organized and scores of senior Congress Party and government officials arrested and charged, including Indira and Sanjay Gandhi, police were unable to submit sufficient evidence for most cases, and only a few low-level officials were convicted of any abuses.
The people lost interest in the hearings owing to their continuous fumbling and complex nature, and the economic and social needs of the country grew more important to them. An impression was created that corruption and political subversion stalled the process of justice.
The Debate over its Legacy
Indira's emergency rule lasted 19 months, and its legacy remains intensely controversial.
upport for Indira's Decisions
The Emergency was endorsed by
Vinoba Bhave(who called it "Anushasan parva" or "Time for discipline") and Mother Teresa. Pioneer industrialist J. R. D. Tata, and writer Khushwant Singhwere among the other prominent supporters. Some have argued that India badly needed economic recovery after the 1971 Indo-Pak war had strained the exchequer. Indira's 20-point economic program increased agricultural production, manufacturing activity, exports and foreign reserves. The national economy achieved high levels of growth and investment, and as strikes were non-existent, productivity increased rapidly. Communal Hindu-Muslim riots, which had re-surfaced in the 1960s and 70s, virtually ceased, and initially the government seemed to be working with vigour. Police in cities had sweeping powers to destroy gang and syndicate structure
Charges against the Government
Criticism and Accusations of the Emergency-era may be grouped as:
* Wanton detention of innocent 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
vasectomyand even castrationof thousands of men under the infamous family planning initiative. Indira's son, Sanjay Gandhi, was blamed for this abusive and forcible treatment of people.
* Arbitrary destruction of the
slumand low-income housing in the Turkmen Gate and Jama Masjid area of old Delhi.
The plot of the Indian film
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisirevolves around the period during which the Indira Gandhi government declared a state of emergency . The film, directed by Sudhir Mishra, also tries to portray the growth of the Naxalitemovement during the emergency era.
The book "
A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistrytakes place during the Emergency and highlights some of the abuses that occurred during that period.
The book "
Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdiehas the protagonist Saleem Sinai in India during the Emergency. His home in a low income area called the "magician's ghetto" is destroyed as part of the national beautification program. Shashi Tharoorin his book " The Great Indian Novel" speaks of the emergency period and compares Indira Gandhito Duryodhanwho is considered as the leader of the evil forces in the Indian epic Mahabharat.
The Hindi novel "Katra bi aarzoo", written by Rahi Masoom Raza, also tells a lot about the people in a small village who are greatly affected by the state of emergency.
The book Life of Pi by Yann Martel takes place during this time, and the Emergency is referenced in the plot.
* "The Judgement" by
* " [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/intoc.html India Country Study] "
* [http://www.ahrchk.net/pub/mainfile.php/mof/ "Memories of a Father," a book by Eachara Varier, father of a student killed in police custody during the emergency]
* "Indira Gandhi: A Personal and Political Biography" by Inder Malhotra
* [http://ajayshahblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/understanding-emergency-of-1975-1977.html Economic policy and political insights into the Emergency]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
The Emergency — may refer to several states of emergency around the world, including:*The Emergency (Ireland) *The Emergency (India)ee also*Emergency (disambiguation) … Wikipedia
Emergency (disambiguation) — An emergency is a situation requiring urgent assistance.Emergency may also refer to:Medicine* Emergency department, facility providing urgent initial medical treatment * Emergency (NGO), Italian NGO mainly helping civilian victims of… … Wikipedia
Emergency contraception — Background Birth control type Hormonal (progestin or others) or intra uterine First use 1970s Failure rates (per use) Perfect use ECP: see article text IUD: under 1% … Wikipedia
India — • The peninsula is separated on the north from Tibet and Central Asia by the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram mountains, and some lower ranges divide it from Afghanistan and Baluchistan Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. India … Catholic encyclopedia
The Salvation Army — Classification Protestant Orientation Holiness Leader Linda Bond Geographical areas Worldwide Headquarters … Wikipedia
The Maharashtra floods of 2005 — refers to the flooding of many parts of the Indian state of Maharashtra including large areas of the metropolis Mumbai, a city located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, on the western coast of India, in which at least 1,000 people died. It… … Wikipedia
The Demon in the Freezer — is a 2002 non fiction book on the biological weapon agents smallpox and anthrax and how the American government develops defensive measures against them. It was written by journalist Richard Preston, also author of the best selling book The Hot… … Wikipedia
The Last Vampire — Series is a 6 book set written by Christopher Pike and chronicles the 5,000 year life of the last vampire , Sita. The Last Vampire The book opens with a brief narration. A young woman, who appears to be in her late teens named Alisa Perne, is not … Wikipedia
The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of School — The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade (later renamed The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First day of School) is a children s book by Ken Derby.ynopsisThe book is about Tony Boloney (real name is Anthony Madison ,) TB for short a big fan… … Wikipedia
India — /in dee euh/, n. 1. Hindi, Bharat. a republic in S Asia: a union comprising 25 states and 7 union territories; formerly a British colony; gained independence Aug. 15, 1947; became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations Jan. 26, 1950.… … Universalium