Know When Bharat was Silenced by Indira Gandhi in 1975

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Know When Bharat was Silenced by Indira Gandhi in 1975
Know When Bharat was Silenced by Indira Gandhi in 1975
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Know When Bharat was Silenced by Indira Gandhi in 1975

By Prof Jasim Mohammad 

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi while addressing media before the commencement of the 1st session of the 18th Lok Sabha, pointed out the 25th of June as the black spot on Indian Constitution. He said,”Tomorrow is 25 June. 50 years ago on this day, a black spot was put on the Constitution. We will try to ensure that such a stain never comes to the country”. Shri Modi said that the new generation of India will never forget the day when the Constitution of India was completely rejected by suppressing democracy and the country was turned into a prison. PM Modi exhorted the citizens to take the resolution to protect the democracy and democratic traditions of India so that such an event never arises again. The Prime Minister said, “We will take the resolution of a vibrant democracy and fulfill the dreams of the common people according to the Constitution of India.”

Know about Emergency

Indira Gandhi’s imposition of the Emergency in India from 1975 to 1977 was a dark chapter in the country’s history, characterized by a severe assault on democracy and individual freedoms. The Emergency marked the erosion of democratic institutions. By suspending elections and dissolving legislative bodies, Indira Gandhi dismantled the essential pillars of democracy. Without a functioning parliament and state assemblies, there was no legislative oversight, removing the checks and balances crucial for a healthy democracy. civil liberties were severely suppressed. Fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, expression, and assembly were curtailed. The press faced heavy censorship, effectively silencing dissent and criticism against the government, a core tenet of any democratic society.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions were rampant. Thousands of political opponents, activists, and ordinary citizens were detained without trial under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). These actions, often without due process, violated basic principles of justice and human rights. The misuse of presidential powers was evident when President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared the Emergency based on Indira Gandhi’s advice, bypassing the Council of Ministers. This unilateral decision undermined the constitutional framework and set a dangerous precedent for future governance.

Judicial complicity during the Emergency, exemplified by the infamous ADM Jabalpur case, where the Supreme Court ruled that the right to life and liberty could be suspended, showcased the judiciary’s failure to uphold constitutional rights and protect citizens from government overreach.

Media censorship further demonstrated the undemocratic nature of the Emergency. Newspapers and media outlets were forced to seek government approval before publishing, transforming the press into a government mouthpiece and stifling any form of dissent. Forced sterilizations under the government’s family planning policies led to widespread human rights abuses. These coerced procedures, especially targeting the poor and marginalized, caused immense suffering and public outrage. Economic policies during the Emergency, such as crackdowns on black markets and enforcement of price controls, were draconian and poorly executed. These measures led to widespread public discontent and economic hardships for many citizens.

Political repression was a hallmark of the Emergency. Opposition leaders were jailed, political parties were banned, and state machinery was used to intimidate and silence opponents, starkly violating democratic norms. The Emergency also violated federal principles by centralizing power in the hands of the central government. State governments were dismissed or coerced into compliance, weakening the autonomy and authority of state administrations. Civil society organizations and NGOs faced severe restrictions. Many critical NGOs were harassed, their activities curtailed, and their members arrested, stifling civil society’s role in promoting democracy and human rights.

Public disillusionment grew as the arbitrary arrests, censorship, and human rights abuses eroded trust in the government and democratic institutions. The period highlighted numerous legal and constitutional violations, with fundamental rights suspended and laws enacted without due legislative process.

International condemnation was swift, tarnishing India’s image as the world’s largest democracy and leading to diplomatic isolation and criticism from global leaders and human rights organizations. The legacy of the Emergency has had a lasting impact on future generations. It serves as a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy and the need for vigilance in protecting democratic institutions and civil liberties. Political pluralism suffered as opposition parties were targeted and suppressed. A healthy democracy thrives on diverse political voices and competition, both of which were stifled during the Emergency.

The bureaucracy, meant to be neutral, was co-opted into executing the government’s draconian measures. This led to a loss of trust in the civil service’s ability to function impartially. Judicial reforms were delayed due to the judiciary’s failure to protect fundamental rights during this period, highlighting the need to ensure judicial independence and accountability. Educational institutions faced strict controls over curricula and activities, stifling intellectual freedom and critical thought. The militarization of civil administration blurred the lines between civilian and military roles, leading to excessive force and human rights abuses.

The Emergency period undermined the spirit of the Indian Constitution, which enshrines democratic principles, individual freedoms, and the rule of law. Accountability mechanisms within the government were weakened. The lack of legislative oversight, judicial independence, and media freedom allowed unchecked executive power, leading to widespread abuse and corruption. The Emergency reshaped political alliances, leading to new political movements and fundamentally altering India’s political landscape, affecting subsequent elections and governance.

Public administration was compromised as civil servants were pressured to conform to government directives, often at the expense of ethical standards and public service principles. Grassroots movements and local activism faced severe repression, weakening grassroots democracy and local governance. Cultural and artistic expression was repressed, with artists, writers, and filmmakers who criticized the government facing censorship and harassment. Minority communities were particularly vulnerable, with authoritarian measures disproportionately affecting marginalized groups. Overall, the Emergency weakened democratic norms and principles. The arbitrary use of power, suspension of rights, and lack of accountability set dangerous precedents, threatening the democratic fabric of the nation.

Prof. Jasim Mohammad
Prof. Jasim Mohammad

Prof Jasim Mohammad the author is a Professor and the Chairman of the Centre for Narendra Modi Studies. Email: [email protected] 

***Published under freedom of expression. IBG NEWS does not agree or deny any views expressed by the author.***

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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