The emergency was imposed on June 25, 1975 when the president passed an ordinance about how the state was in danger. All the fundamental rights were suspended, politicians were arrested and a heavy censorship was imposed on the media. Today on june 25, 2014, 39 years after the imposition, we still remember the trauma the citizens underwent.
But what was the reason of this blot on the face of Independent India? Could India have avoided it? Who benefitted and who suffered?
Here are 7 things you need to know about the dark phase in the history of Independent India.
- * The Reason: It began with the case against Indira Gandhi for election malpractices in Allahabad High Court. The verdict of the same was later challenged in Supreme Court which granted Gandhi a conditional stay. It allowed her to be an MP but not preside over parliamentary proceedings. This was viewed as the first step to emergency. The second step was the ‘Total Revolution’ initiated by Jayaprakash Narayan who demended the resignation og Indira after the Allahbad High Court gave it’s verdict. it was on the same day, June 25, that JP declared the nationwide plan of daily demonstrations in every state capital. The police, army and the people were asked to follow the Constitution than Indira Gandhi. The emergency is regarded as the outcome of a systematic failure as India was facing social, economic and political crisis.
After all the reasons were put out, it was assumed that Mrs. Gandhi was blinded by power and imposed the emergency to safeguard her own political and personal interests.
- *Arrests: Gandhi invoked Article 352 of the Indian Constitution which gave her extraordinary powers. She used that power to influence police forces to detain protestors and strike leaders. Some of the prominent leaders were JP, Vijayaraje Scindia, Morarji Desai, jivatram kripalani, LK Advani and many more. After the first round of arrests, the remaining political workers went underground still continuing their protests. Not only that, there were reports of protestors who were under detention being tortured to death.
- *Elections: State and parliamentary elections were postponed.*Sterilisation: The emergency gave immense power not only in Indira’s hand but also her son, Sanjay Gandhi. He performed atrocity of sterlisation. Covered witha blanket of ‘family planning’, the process was supposed to be voluntary. But as it turned out, there were reports where unmarried, old and in some cases opponents were forced to get streilized.*Media: The fourth estate of democracy, the media suffered immensely under Emergency. Severe censorship was imposed on newspaper, television and radio as well. Except the Indian Express, nobody had the guts to defy the censorship orders. The first edition of the Indian Express after the imposition of emergency consisted of a blank page instead of editorial. The Financial Express had Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high”. Gandhi also made it a point to replace the Information and Broadcast minster IK Gujral with Vidya Charan Shukla. But the irony was, porn was looked over but not politics.
- *Law: During the Emergency, Gandhi took to the liberty of rewriting the laws since her party had two thirds majority in the Lok sabha. Indira Gandhi felt that the existing laws were too slow and hence got the president to pass an ordinance which allowed Gandhi to rule by decree. Gandhi amended the Constitution such that it exonerated her from any charges in the election-fraud case. She also made sure that there was president’s rule in the states where the government was anti- Gandhi. The 42nd amendment is considered to be one of the lasting legacies of the emergency.
- *Impact of Emergency: Once the emergency was lifted, Congress faced the consequences of the same combined with the wrath of the general public. Writers wrote books and films were made about Emergency. Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children’, VS Naipaul’s ‘ India: A wounded Country’ are some of the many books. Films like ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ was a bold mockery of the dark phase. ‘Nasbandi’ and ‘Aandhi’ were some other films that played out the condition of the nation.
It was not just this, but after the Emergency was lifted, Indira Gandhi faced fierce critisizm for her actions. The result of which showed in the 1977 Lok Sabha Elections where Janata Party under the leadership of Morarji Desai came to power. Later, Indira was arrested on account of various cases against her.