LV on Indira response

Rahul Sinha, lives in India

Question asked: Why did Indira Gandhi declare emergency in India? What exactly did happen during that period?

Lets put first things first. So, in this the first thing is what’s the emergency?

Emergency is a state where your fundamental rights used to be suspended. It means that state can take any action and people have no rights to oppose the orders. During emergency, thousands of people arrested and put behind the bars without trials. The media has  no rights to report. Mass sterilization were conducted. And, States policies completely implemented with the force. So, this is what emergency state is.

Emergency was declared in India for 21 months (1975-77). Fakruddin Ali Ahmad was the President & Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India.


From the starting, there was a clash between the Judiciary system and Legislative assembly of India. After independence, govt. acquired lands under their socialist policy. But, right to property was a fundamental right. So, lot of amendments made including the removal of right to property and IXth Schedule introduced under which one can’t challenge on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights. And, due to this schedule, Union of India won the case of Sajjan Singh & Shankari Prasad.

But, after 17 years, under case of I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab, petitioner won. Under this case, Schedule IX and many amendments challenged.

So, again a panel of judges formed and amendments made. The effect of changes was that Legislature became powerless to amend any section of the fundamental rights.

And, this verdict created a rift between judicial system and legislature of India. And, it resulted in a legal war between the two and many cases became part of this battle. Some of the famous cases were: Privy purses case, Benett Coleman Case, Bank Nationalization case, Minerva Mills case and so on.

Meanwhile, the economic situation of India was adversely affecting. And, the socialist policies of Govt. not working as desired.

And, result of it-

Eliminate Poverty started in 1971 by Indira Gandhi. She used a catchy slogan “Garibi Hatao” to win in 1971. And, the priority of Govt. to overrule some cases like Golaknath, Privy, Bank nationalization etc. And, result of it, again the constitution amended with the necessary modifications.

Meanwhile 1973-75, huge unrest took place in the economy. Strikes & lockouts were taking place. Govt. highly criticized for all this and Assemblies also influenced by such criticisms.

Then, a famous case took place- Raj Narayan vs Indira Gandhi.

This case was just like a final nail in the coffin for Indira Gandhi. This case just increased her troubles. Raj Narayan who contested against Indira Gandhi, filed cases of election malpractices against Indira Gandhi. She found guilty of the charges by the Judge of Allahabad Court. Then, she appealed but again she lost.

And, during this period, Jayprakash Narayan was campaigning against the Govt. and probably by the time Indira Gandhi thought to declare emergency to seize the fundamental rights. In fact, in her biography, there is a section which clearly mentions that she found this time as worst phase of her life and felt extremely insecure.

And, due to the adverse effects, on June 25, 1975, she declared the state of emergency throughout the nation citing the threats of national security and bad economic conditions. With its effect, arrests without trials, mass sterilization, etc took place in the economy.

After that, on March 23, 1977, state of emergency removed. Elections took place and Janta party won. But, again in 1980, Indira Gandhi won due to different thought processes and divides in Janta party.

Nitish Raj

Indira  Gandhi’s conflict with Judiciary can be considered as an important cause for proclamation of emergency. There were a series of judgments by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India which did not favour Mrs. Gandhi. E.g. Golaknath case, Kesvananda Bharati v. State of Kerala Case, et al.

The most important judgment of them was that of State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain. This judgment held Indira Gandhi’s liable for indulging in corrupt practises to win her Lok Sabha seat from U.P.

Due to these judgments, crumbling economy and the protests led by Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan and other leaders, she was forced to declare emergency in order  to save her reputation from falling in abroad. She was always very particular about her image in western nations, please watch this short clip where this has also been acknowledged by Mr. Modi. And plus she also was facing stiff competition against American Prez Nixon.

Emergency has always been labelled as a period of commitment of atrocities. Sanjay Gandhi led his infamous mass sterilisation program. Rights were curtailed. All opposition leaders like Morarji Desai, L.K. Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Arun Jaitley, George Fernandes etc. were imprisoned for more than a year. Press was censored.

Many other leaders also protested in different ways. Mr. Modi used to distribute pamphlets condemning emergency in disguise of a sikh.

There is also a famous anecdote associated with Dr. Subramanian Swamy. He fled to USA to start a movement out there and since  attendance was falling and if he would not have shown his presence, he would be disqualified as an M.P., he came back to India and in the attended Parliament’s session in disguise of a Sikh and during obituaries, he said democracy is also dead.

An arrest warrant was issued against Mr. Ram Jethmalani.  Many lawyers including eminent jurist Mr. Nanabhoy Palkhivala and associations protested against it. RamJet also criticised Mrs. Gandhi in his lectures in USA.

All the current leaders are starts born out from emergency days. Be it from ruling party like Modi, Swamy, Jaitley, Vajpayee, Advani, et al or from opposition like George Fernandes, Nitish Kumar, Laloo Prasad Yadav, et al.

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16 thoughts on “LV on Indira response”

  1. I was going to write something similar to the above, but then realized that these two authors already gave very good descriptions of why Indira’s emergency rule was problematic.

    Zachary, Indiraji did not stand up for the Sufis, Bahais, Ahmedis, twelvers or sixers. PM Modi is the first PM in Indian history with the partial exception of perhaps PM Vajpayee to clearly and unambiguously stand up for all of them. Notice how PM Modi publicly and unapologetically expressed his support for the Ahmedi and Bahai in his trip to Israel.

    PM Modi is exploring a strategic partnership with Iraq which includes training the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Air Force and counter terrorism cooperation. PM Modi openly, proudly and continually meets with Twelver and Sufi leaders and liberal Sunni leaders without playing cynical vote bank political games.

    I will admit that these issues are close to my heart and I am biased. I wish that PM Nehru and every PM since Nehru had done the things that PM Modi has done and plans to do; but they didn’t.

    Modi is also the most free trade, free investment, free cross border business development, free cross border research and development, pro business leader in Indian history [with the possible exception of PM Vajpayee.]

    Zachary, I know that there are aspects of PM Modi you do not like including his recent refusal to publicly speak in English even though he is very good at English. Lobby and politic against PM Modi in the next Indian election to your hearts content. But surely you must support the above PM Modi policies. Am I right?

  2. >Zachary, Indiraji did not stand up for the Sufis, Bahais, Ahmedis, twelvers or sixers.

    Stand up for them against what? Are these groups facing the visceral hatred of organized Hindu groups affiliated with the BJP that the Muslims in Kasjang or the Gujjars in Jammu faced? When we’re talking about his track record with minorities, you’re ignoring the huge elephant in the room here for obvious reasons. I mean, I’d have my own trouble explaining why under Modi’s leadership, a notorious rioter like Yogi Adityanath is the Chief Minister of India’s largest state.

    1. Hundred percent agreed with you Mir. Don’t get me started on Lord Voldemort or on the Yogi.

      1. In just one month in pakistan,hazaras have been killed fourth time by ‘unknown assailants’. If a minority faced that in india, whole world would outrage over lord voldemort and adityanath.Few days before, a Christian girl was acid attacked for refusing to marry and convert. But Pakistani police diluted the case. Every month, minor hindu girls r kidnapped and married to 50 year old man who is already married. I don’t know why international media pays little attention to pakistan, where minorities r attacked with such impunity without any action. In yogi adityanath’s UP, six people were arrested for disrupting namaz on the road where they were travelling.

        1. Pakistan is an “Islamic Republic”. India is a secular state. Obviously, secular states are held to higher standards as to how they treat minorities.

          Pakistan has lots of problems. That doesn’t make India’s problems go away.

          1. But according to pakistanis, they r becoming more tolerant and india is in opposite direction. Sadly, it doesn’t show. In Pakistan, the ‘unknown assailants’ of minorities r never caught. Every year 5000 hindus and sikhs flee to india for refuge. India should be hold to higher standards, but i fail to understand, why international media is silent on Pakistan. In india, people from minority community are famous gangsters and still have too much power despite adityanath.

          2. Karan, my hope is that PM Modiji allows Pakistani twelvers, sixers, Sufis, Ahmedis, Bahais, Christians, Hindus, Sindhis, Pashtuns, Kashmiris, Sikhs, Buddhists and liberal Sunnis to move to India. The process remains much too hard. Some muslims who have met Modi have requested that Modi do this. In general India in my opinion should encourage more immigrants to move to India.

            I know that politically this will be a huge ask for PM Modi. I hope he is only waiting until after reelection. Of course, I would prefer PM Modi acts as soon as possible.

            For that matter I hope that Sheikh (President) Trump increases US legal immigration. Other countries should also do the same. I think the world benefits from freer travel and movement of people.

          3. Loll I doubt Pakistani bahais will move to India; they are an insanely patriotic community!

          4. “International media is silent on Pakistan”– It isn’t actually. Pakistan is always in the news for the wrong reasons as a jihadi factory or because the army has taken over or Hafiz Saeed has said something stupid. There is no shortage of criticism of Pakistan.

            But I agree with girmit. Since this post is about Indira Gandhi, perhaps we don’t need to discuss Pakistan right now.

        2. If this is a conversation about the emergency, and the activist roots of many current Indian political leaders, why do we have to bring Pakistan into the picture? This whataboutism just derails every discussion.

          1. Indeed – I brought in Pakistan because Indira’s decimation of the two Pakistan is a credit to her.

            Hahah I just realised this is AnAn’s thread with almost the same name; got so confused!

        3. When I made that post, I wasn’t trying to prove that Pakistan was more secular or had a better track record with minorities. I saw a dishonest post which was trying to whitewash Modi’s history with minority relations and absolve him of ‘cynical votebank politics’ when the BJP’s only game in poor states like UP has been to stoke communal tensions.

          Bring up the Christian girl acid case as much as you want, but there were no fundamentalist Pakistani groups cheering the attack and trying to intimidate her family. In fact, the DAWN article I read on the incident states that the police submitted the correct FIR in the end and had the accused arrested. No provocative marches and rabble rousing from any Pakistani party, no Pakistani ministers talking about how it happens all the time, no politics whatsoever. I don’t know how you can compare what happened to the Christian girl, as terrible as it was, to what Asifa, her family and her community has been going through over the last few weeks.

          1. Well said!
            Are you a Pakistani? (Don’t answer if you find that to be too personal).
            By the way, my paternal relatives are also “Mirs”. It’s a Kashmiri caste as far as I know

  3. Mir isn’t 14 centuries long enough? When can the civil war end? Only if muslims are free can there be dialogue. Only dialogue can end it.

    1. Dialogue works if both parties are trying to come to some type of agreement or understanding. This isn’t going to matter much with highly religiously motivated types, since they have no wish to understand anything on anyone else’s side anyway. Unfortunately because religion by it’s very nature is based on superstition and wishy-washy beliefs, it becomes dangerous long-term to even allow mouth-piece support to it.

      Plus, “dialogue” here must become very blunt when we are dealing with strong religious sentiment, otherwise we spend an eternity being polite and not getting anywhere. Unfortunately, being so “blunt” means that you are now accused of insensitivity, even though the religious themselves are rather insensitive to everyone else.

      A pretty cushy position to have, if I must say!

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