I am writing in response to the article entitled `Lessons from the National Emergency declared 45 years ago: The “democratic” Indian Republic is a tool of Monopoly Capitalist Dictate’, carried in the July 1-15, 2020 issue of MEL.
The article was written to mark the 45th anniversary of the declaration of the Emergency on 25th of June 1975. The Emergency is actually one event on which there is considerable confusion in the public mind, and its ghost is raised from time to time to scare the people of India.
Therefore it is of paramount importance to understand what it is about as we take stock of the here and now. The article also carries a box describing the Constitutional provisions for declaration for emergency which provides useful reading.
The crucial point to note is that the Emergency was imposed at a time when there was vast discontent across the length and breadth of India. An atmosphere of terror and destruction was created that led to mass suffering, indeed of many poor people whose homes were destroyed, and in terms of banning of strikes and incarceration of trade union leaders and students. A mass sterilization programme was launched under the guise of population control. It was a period of unbridled fascism.
The underlying reason for the clash was because of the condition of the masses who had discovered that the socialistic pattern promoted by the ruling classes was shown to be empty, and the abject bankruptcy of the ruling classes who sought to shore up their leading position in society. Accompanying phenomena were the rise of regional aspirations due to the spread of capitalism in agriculture, the disintegration of Pakistan, and the interference of US in Indian domestic affairs. A dog fight ensued in the ranks of the bourgeoisie who propped up a section of political parties to end the hegemony of the Congress.
Under the banner of `restoration of democracy’ the coalition headed by Morarji Desai came to power. However, none of the underlying reasons for why the people of India opposed the Emergency have been addressed or were resolved at that time, or in the present. But rather the brutal suppression of dissent how grown since those times.
At the time this letter and the article have been written, there are practically Emergency like conditions in effect in the country, under the pretext of the fight against the corona-virus. Under the prevailing atmosphere of terror, various leaders of democratic struggles have been arrested. In fact, all meetings remain virtually banned. All democratic rights have de facto been suspended.
The key message is that under the provisions of the Constitution of India, the rights of the people can actually be taken away at any time. Therefore slogans such as defending the Constitution and saving democracy that are floated from time to time are actually bogus, because there is nothing unconstitutional about emergency direct or de facto. What is required is a new dispensation where true rights will be enshrined and realized and will flourish.
I thank you for carrying this timely article.