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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has become one of the most reviewed books since and even before its publication in June 2017. The antici...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The AFSPA darkness

The manner of grinding discussion over the issue of removal of infamous armed forces special power act (AFSPA) leaves one in a dilemma. Does it fall in a genre of satire or it comes under the gambit of a tragedy, the whole saga is purported as Machiavellian but in reality has more of a Shakespearean tinge over a sinister background of darkness of cruelty. The draconian act provides a cover of impunity to the army and paramilitary forces operating in Kashmir; in summer of 2010 same paramilitary forces killed over and above hundred unarmed protestors protesting against the excesses committed by forces and specifically for the removal of the draconian act. Howsoever insensitive that might sound; those killings in the summer of 2010 pale in comparison to the heinous crimes perpetrated over the years by the forces under the garb of that very act. The catalogue is unending and tales are rending. Stories of fake encounters, tortures, harassments and killings of innocent civilians are so rampant that the consequence has been the numbness of emotions and feelings. Entire population of Kashmir valley has been brutalized and dehumanized; acts of omission by the armed apparatus of the state would qualify as criminal acts in any civilized society.  At the height of disturbances in 2010 Indian government even made pretense of discussions over the removal of the act. But then, in an unprecedented phenomenon army and its commanders were given a free reign to oppose any dilution of the act. It is not just the opposition, but also the degree of its vehemence that sends a cringe and allows a peak into vastness and ugliness of the machinery that fuels itself on the miseries of civilian population in Kashmir. In any civil and democratic set-up the role of armed forces is subservient to civil authorities; societies and countries let their armed forces intervene into policy issues only at their peril. The loosening of the hell that followed Omar Abdullah’s declaration of intent of partial withdrawal of the act is revealing. Far from the autonomy, the Chief Minister of the state that is not even qualified to pronounce policy matters over the issues those are within the preview of his authority as the chairperson of so-called unified command. It is hardly an epiphany to see electronic media with its paraphernalia complete with pseudo-journalists muddle the issue by allowing army officers spew venom in a villainous manner of K. N. Singh and have another ex-army general declare that recruitment in army will stop, if the act is diluted by invoking death of his army son in a combat. And the worst was yet to come in the manner of blabbering by a top army general over gruesome Pathribal murders. It might never occur to those perpetrators of pseudo-nationalism that the instrument of accession signed by the erstwhile ruler of the state was provisional with very limited extension of acts of Indian law over the state. Extension of any law required assent of the state constituent assembly that dissolved itself in 1958. That fact renders all extension of Indian laws over the state illegal and one may add here that subsequent extension of provisions of Indian constitution over the state was carried out surreptitiously and with vicious mal-intentions. Were it not for those acts of duplicity and dishonesty by Indian state, Omar Abdullah would not be even discussing the issue. 
-Rajiv Kumar  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Of heroes and villains

In the last James Bond movie ‘Quantum of Solace’ James Bond approaches character Mathis for help, whom he (James Bond) have had imprisoned on the suspicion of being in cohort with crooks. Mathis terms James’ request as odd and remarks ‘but I guess when one’s young it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong. But as one gets older it becomes more difficult. The villains and heroes get all mixed up’. That brings me to the real villain who once masqueraded as a hero. Once I read his article ‘How to wipe out Islamic terror’ in Daily News & Analysis (July 16, 2011), I realized that may be he was not even masquerading rather he always had thuggery circuited. When people in their naivety saw him as a knight in shining armor, he in reality was an antagonist like Valdemort or Sauron. His enactment of disappearance during infamous internal emergency in India made him fabled and his antecedents like doctorate from Harvard added to that aura of his perceived brilliance. Even without writing the article, he through his sordid antics ever since had amply amplified that a doctorate and a faculty position in Harvard does not guarantee a saner predisposition and even much less an inclination towards being honest. Henry Kissinger in his memoirs managed to blend deception to the extent that sifting truth definitely becomes an arduous task. But in the case of Subramaniam Swamy, before any issue of dishonesty, comes the question of state of his mental balance. Ascendancy of decrepit deviants in a sense became the real legacy of internal emergency promulgated by Indira Gandhi following a high court decision that unseated her from parliament. That emergency brought sages and crooks together under the tutelage of JP. Since then Subramaniam Swamy has done, said and written enough to become a leader of the latter pack. His versions of solutions include abrogation of article 370 of the constitution and settlement of ex-servicemen in the valley; removal of mosques in Kashi and 300 other mosques. On a second thought, to give you a real glimpse into the insane mind of his, I leave you with a link to his article to protect my own sanity. http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/analysis_how-to-wipe-out-islamic-terror_1566203-all  

-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kashmir-normalcy in paradise

I have to admit in the beginning that the title of this post is intentionally (and maliciously) directed towards those who suddenly feel vindicated that there was never any problem in or with Kashmir. They think it is was just an aberration and the entire population went wayward and collectively decided to spoil twenty three years of their lives; raise an entire generation under the shadow of guns and grenades; curfews and hartals; crackdowns and frisking; killings and disappearances and to tolerate humiliations. Some might even go to the extent saying well they deserved and security forces are just doing sacrosanct job of protecting a piece of land from delinquents. The powers to be instead of gloating might have wisely applied themselves to use prevailing calm in the valley to strive for a solution to the problem? Because I don’t buy apologists refrain that there is no problem in Kashmir. The historical wrongs inflicted on Kashmir cannot be wished away. An unprecedented flow of tourists following high turn out in local elections does not mean everything is hunky-dory with the valley. I could understand the maliciousness of the main stream Indian media and right wing thugs in missing no opportunity in spreading untruth about Kashmir, but when purportedly secularists and intellectuals succumb to those canards, they only end up spreading saffron agenda. Kashmir problem did not start in 1989; that it only took a violent turn. Kashmir problem started even prior to 1947 and even much earlier. Without going into details, there has never been any ambiguity that the instrument of accession signed by the ruler of Kashmir and government of India was temporary. Kashmir had its distinct constitution, with a head of state elected by elected by state assembly and a council of minister headed by prime minister. Despite the tyranny of Dogra rule when time came Karan Singh, son of Hari Singh the last Dogra ruler who fled state after tribal invasion, was elected as the head of state and that arrangement continued until 1967 when Indian government imposed a hand-picked governor, like British resident commissioner. Most of the time appointed governors remained innocuous and sometimes were even gracious; but then there were also obnoxious like Jagmohan. And Jagmohan is the one person who can squarely if not entirely blamed for the cesspool that valley became subsequently where thousands of lives have been lost when those should never have been. Jagmohan displayed flagrant power play at the behest of Indira Gandhi by removing legitimate government of Farooq Abdullah in 1984. It was the time Indira Gandhi sent her two agents Jagmohan and Ram Lal to Srinagar and Hyderabad, respectively. While Jagmohan dismissed Farooq Abdullah; Ram Lal stabbed N. T. Ramarao. While the entire opposition first landed in Srinagar and then Hyderabad.  They succeeded in getting NTR reinstated but not Farooq Abdullah, who had been tagged with an anti-national label. Kashmir ever since dismissal of Farooq Abdullah has never been same again. As a matter of fact it was never same again ever since mid-night dismissal of Sheikh Abdullah and his subsequent incarceration. For those who think there was never any problem in Kashmir, it might be a time to take a lesson or two in history. It would be too much to ask mandarins of Indian government but should they relegate Kashmir issue under any naïve pretext, they will do only at their own peril.   
-Rajiv Kumar

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Joseph Lelyveld’s Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi

When Joseph Lelyveld’s book ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India’ was published in spring of 2011, some shallow soul must have whispered that Gandhi has been described as homosexual and racist. The book was condemned before anybody had physically seen it and much less read it. And irony was that the first state to ban the book was that of Gandhi, Gujarat and the person who moved resolution in the state legislature in the state capital named Gandhi Nagar was none other than thuggish Narender Modi, who happened to oversee the worst pogrom perpetrated that killed thousands of Muslims in the state and rest hurtled into ghettos. Nothing could be more bizarre than Modi proscribing a reverential book based on a person who gave up his life for minorities’ rights. And not be left behind Maharashtra followed the suit. Thus, the book by Joseph Lelyveld became another victim of Indian fetish for intolerance and outright ignorance. All those strange reactions and actions must have caught Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former executive editor of The New York Times off the guard and peeved him to a certain extent.

Mr. Lelyveld spent time as correspondent in India and South Africa and that is where he developed interest in Gandhi. The book itself reflects a thorough research and extensive use of the existing material on Gandhi as well extended visits to the places that Gandhi roamed in his life-time. The author has been able to put events and life of Gandhi in the perspective of the time in which he lived with thorough evidential corroboration and where such evidence lacked he has admirably refrained to insert his own interpretation. Gandhi’s life was not that of any other person, nevertheless, it had all the complexities of any human being. His sojourn in South Africa, more than twenty years long, was the reason why he became Mahatma Gandhi. Though he went there to act as an interpreter in a law suit between two litigating Guajarati Muslims traders, by the time he returned to India in 1914 he was already a leader and visionary. But then the streak of rebellion was always there; in his first court appearance when judge asked Gandhi to remove his turban he stomped off and shot a letter of protest to a newspaper. Even, in his much publicized eviction from the first class train compartment; he didn’t relent and continued his journey in the first class compartment from the very station where he was thrown out previous day. But his graduation as mass leader happened in phases and his vision came from many influences and he never stopped experimenting. He helped British in Boer war and in war against Zulus and then led resistance movement against anti-Indian legislations. He did not embrace low caste indentured workers to start with and did not think much about them; but then he lived with them and led movement on their behalf that ultimately made him a mass leader. It would be pertinent to point that another visionary Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated slavery in United States of America, did not think much of blacks when he became President or even until he went into the civil war to preserve union. Gandhi’s ignorance about untouchables at the time point could be disappointing but then it must be a very orthodox age of taboos, some of which survive in the country into the 21st century. He himself was proscribed by his caste people for crossing sea to go to England for studying law.

Gandhi’s non-violence was influenced by writings of Leo Tolstoy with immediate inspiration coming from reading John Ruskin’s ‘Unto This Last’ in an overnight train journey. One of the strongest influences on his conscience purportedly has been that of Theosophist movement and through it that of Tolstoy. Gandhi was visionary as much as realist. It was that realist in Gandhi that confined him to fighting for the rights of Indian community. It took almost another century before native black majority attained full rights. Upon return to India in 1914, before plunging into national movement of Indian National Congress, which until then consisted of arm-chaired politicians, he toured the country where poverty, hunger and menace of caste system confronted him. The complexities of the caste system put Gandhi in a bind and had him juggling with two movements, for self-rule and against rallying caste barriers. One of the interesting anecdotes described in Joseph Lelyveld’s book is that of struggle in Vaikom in present day Kerala. Lower caste were not only barred from entry into the temple but even from the roads leading to the temple; Gandhi did not allow the conflict turn into a national movement but went himself to negotiate with the priest who received him not in the temple because even Gandhi was of lower caste than priest. Gandhi failed to evince any concession from the Brahmin priest. And almost one century later, one can still read news stories about punishment meted to low caste entering temples or drawing water from the wells reserved for high caste. It would be shear ignorance to under-estimate Gandhi’s struggle with India. And Joseph Lelyveld has brought those out in a near flawless manner. When Congress party was at the cusp of attaining power and its leaders were already feeling heady with imminent power, Gandhi walked bare-feet in Noakhali area of present day Bangladesh; the fact that he was mostly shunned by the local population did not deter him. And when India became free on August 15, 1947, Gandhi stayed in Calcutta at the plea of Muslim League to prevent riots, which, nevertheless, did erupt. Those riots stopped only when he went to fast unto death. Joseph Lelyveld has described events around Gandhi as happened; unlike Gandhi’s autobiography which he wrote after a considerable time-gap and with benefit of hindsight. Gandhi the visionary was also a thorough politician and a tactician, who even in that age controlled his media image.

Gandhi himself and others do think he failed in his goals; he couldn’t prevent partition of the country on the basis of religion and caste system thrives despite him. Another aspect where he miserably failed to change his countrymen is matter of hygiene. Gandhi attended Congress convention in Calcutta in 1901 and was appalled to see the sanitation and much later it was same when he went to a Kumbh festival. In all probability, his reaction would be same, should he happen to visit even national capital beyond Lutyen’s Delhi in 2011. And the question was he homosexual; no he was not. And Joseph Lelyveld has no where said he was. And even if he were a homosexual, that wouldn’t make him less of a Mahatma. The question arose from his close relationship with Hermann Kallenbach, a Jewish German and two became soul mates. More than any word a photograph of Gandhi and Kallenbach in the book taken in 1937 when they met after a gap of more than two decade bears a testimony to their friendship. At the same time it is true that Gandhi’s notions about sex were convoluted, an influence of Theosophical society or missionaries. He strived for a pure life that included physiological control; but an erection at the age of seventy and occasional nocturnal ejaculation would lead him to depression and he would enter into further bizarre experiments. But his idea of abstinence and importance of preservation of semen was more due to the general prevalent ignorance about human physiology in those times than any obnoxiousness. Then Gandhi did not live in an era of internet.
-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sajjad Iqbal-a departed intellectual

Last week I read the sad news of the death of Sajjad Iqbal. I had never met Sajjad and my thoughts immediately turned to his father, Iqbal Khandey, whom I happened to know very well. The grief and suffering of Iqbal can only be unfathomable. The void left behind by the loss of his son is the one that can never ever be filled. All one can do in this hour of grievous loss is to wish Iqbal peace and power to endure unendurable. As I mentioned I had never met Sajjad but courtesy a facebook friend (Dilnaz Boga) I read an article written by him “Long drive to freedom” and published in Kashmir Dispatch. The article started with a poem by Agha Shahid Ali

“We shall meet again in Srinagar,
by the gates of the Villa of Peace,
our hands blossoming into fists
till the soldiers return the keys and disappear.
Again we’ll enter our last world,
the first that vanished
in our absence from the broken city.
We’ll tear our shirts for tourniquets,
and bind the open thorns,
warm the ivy into roses.
Quick, by the pomegranate – the bird will say –
Humankind can bear everything.”

And once I went through the article, a convulsing realization dawned on me that it is not only Iqbal who lost his son; Kashmir has lost an intellectual with a sharp and analytic mind. The manner and depth with which he had articulated the reality of Kashmir could only come from a person of high caliber. The travesty is that he was only twenty seven years old. But after reading his article I also realized that freedom struggle in Kashmir has come long way; and that struggle has become way of life and state through its apparatus of repression has only stiffened the resolve of the suppressed population. And the clichéd silver lining is that there is a whole young generation of people who are able to understand and more importantly articulate Kashmir in a rational form. The rationality of the youth from Kashmir set them apart from the irrationality of Indian establishment and mainstream Indian media who at its best spreads ignorance and in their worst form don’t even hold back from demonizing the entire population of Kashmir. Sajjad Iqbal represented the young generation of intellectuals in Kashmir; even though he is not there anymore but his writings will always be there to inspire youngsters in the valley. His writings and his work will always be source of pride for aggrieved parents.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who rules Kashmir?

There was a small news item in one of the local newspapers (Greater Kashmir) in Kashmir reporting that some Major General, General Officer Commanding of some infantry division told newsmen that army will not allow stone pelting in Kashmir. “I am very hopeful that this year we will be able to curtail it” is the ad-verbatim statement of the commanding officer of some infantry division. I thought state of Jammu & Kashmir had a civilian, legislative and allegedly elected government in place headed by a civilian chief minister.  Could one attribute Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s statement to his vile imagination when he stated (a news item in the same newspaper) that union home ministry and army is ruling the state? Hasn’t it been a consistent feature over the years that army and its spokespersons issue pronouncements on the matters that clearly fall within the ambit of civilian authority? In a perverse sense one even starts perceiving that such a statement at this juncture might even represent a yearning on the part of certain sections within the armed forces for repeat of trouble in Kashmir. That would provide them, in connivance with civilian bureaucrats, another ruse to douse any discussion either on the reduction of number of troops deployed in the valley or on dilution of draconian laws in force to deal with insurgents, which according to Indian nationalists include all the inhabitants of the valley.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The way people have started talking about corruption gives an impression that the menace just erupted and therefore needs to be nipped in the bud. And in came Anna Hazare and his show complete with tents and full media glare; joined in by everybody and anybody eager to hog lime-light no matter how fleeting moment be. Even if for a brief moment one gets delusional to accept that corruption didn’t exist before; even that would not justify the demand for the creation of a totally bizarre organization through bizarre insistence of bizarre duo of Hazare and so-called Baba Ramdev. So-called Baba has been making hay through naivety of his country for many years and his franchise has become bloated to the level of a complete corporation through sale of all types of superfluous and misleading health products. But here Baba is not an issue nor is Hazare, howsoever genuine he might be. The issue is corruption, and its real consequences. Corruption exists and existed without any discrimination. It never discriminates on the basis of religion, caste or color and even political affiliation. I deliberately excluded gender because men are prone to be more corrupt then women. It exists in all forms of vocations and it permeates every strata of society. And it would be an understatement to say that its effects are devastating; but not in the way Anna Hazare, Ramdev and their ignorant urban acolytes perceive. To understand the ruinous effect of that corruption one needs to come out of parochial and pseudo-nationalist tendencies and take cognizance of large multidimensional reality of the country like India, which exists beyond Jantar Mantar. Naxal movement (a generic name for multiple troubles) is a manifest of a corrupt society in denial; people in north-east are lesser citizens because of moral bankruptcy, which not less than any corruption. Does dealing of popular grievances in Kashmir through draconian force and repressive laws not constitute moral corruption? Why unjust incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen never touched Anna Hazare and his followers? Does forced exile of Maqbool Fida Hussain not constitute corruption? And what about those filthy rich people who try every mean under the sky to evade paying taxes?     

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Banishment of corruption

Anna Hazare fasted for 90 hours and it banished corruption from India. After all it wasn’t complicated at all and one reaches the end of the wits to understand why it was being such an issue to start with. Now Anna’s selfless act has not only driven corruption away; in the process it has shown way for the future. Indians can now sleep in peace with an invaluable and timeless treasure of knowledge that they can resort to corruption any time and all they need to do is to find a forgotten Gandhian and invoke his consciousness into fasting for a few days. That should at least bring a reprieve to the politicians who always end up being façade of corruption, notwithstanding the fact of the phenomenon being a national pastime. Everybody else, be it corporate thugs or tax evading businessmen; unscrupulous beauraucrats or roughish men in uniform; they are never accused of anything. Brutalization of entire tribal population for plundering of natural resources never wrought any conscience or killing of civilian protestors throughout last summer in Kashmir didn’t provoke any heart and on the contrary all one could hear were shrieks of ultra-nationalism.   

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inertia-induction and causes

I never had anticipated that I would not write for four months at a stretch but that exactly happened. I went to India in February for two weeks. It was my first such trip in six years and I had all the anticipation and excitement build up much before even I started preparing for the travel itself. Then what I saw, I observed and I felt in India I could never ever have anticipated and nobody could ever have prepared me for it and much less even warned me. Those observations continue to reverberate in my head and within my hollowed soul and hence my reluctance to hit the key-board. I don't think I can bring myself to write about that trip without irrevocably alienating my cherished friends, relations and acquaintances, hence, I defer the venture to a later date. Nevertheless, at the very least I can add that howling over wikileaks disclosures about Indian affairs in India, or Sarah Palin being feted at an exclusive conclave in India do not surprise me anymore. But I refrain to lay any boisterous claim to any attained wisdom; bafflement comes close to explaining the inexplicable.   

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Decadence and IPL

"How do cheergirls promote the cause of cricket? Why are players auctioned like "gladiators" in IPL system of cricket? These were some of the questions that members of the Parliamentary standing committee on finance posed to top BCCI officials, including its president Shashank Manohar, secretary N Srinivasan and IPL commissioner Chirayu Amin during a hearing on financial transactions related to the conduct of IPL." Straight and simple answer without mincing words would be decadence. -Rajiv Kumar

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sinister gimmicks

They are back with one more gimmick; self-appointed custodians of nationalism want to hoist Indian national flag in Srinagar on January 26. Every time they are in political wilderness, the thugs of saffron brigade tend to go berserk; it was back in 1992, Murli Manohar Joshi, the then president of BJP enacted a similar farce that his party is planning to repeat shamelessly. Back then, he hoisted a flag in Srinagar, with entire population of the town shut through the imposed curfew. Nevertheless, he did not completely escape; call it a divine retribution, a pole from the hoisted flag fell on his head. It would seem that the hit on his head might, ultimately, have done him some good. His disapproval of current BJP president for uttering abusive words against Congress leadership and his more mature approach on the issue of the recent gridlock in Parliament is a testimony to that. His rapprochement to Prime Minister was shot down by his hawkish colleagues of saffron outfit; they relish more in creating mayhems, disruptions, divisions and spreading communalism than anything constructive. May be it is time somebody tell them with some candor that it might do no good to anybody, certainly not to the country whose integrity they profess to protect. Countries do not attain greatness by foolish parades and ugly flag hoisting; it is the collective welfare of the society; it is the inclusive improvement of lives; it is the better infrastructure; it is the better and humane education; it is the social and egalitarian justice that make countries tower over the others. Did BJP ever made any policy pronouncements on any of these issues? Do they realize that the entire population of the valley is alienated and their foolish acts aggravate that alienation? As they believe the entire population of the valley is not in favor of secession, why don’t they reach out at least to those who they believe are in favor of Indian rule? And when they utter sympathy for sufferings, why does their vision allows them to see only the suffering of security forces? Demoralization of security forces matter to them, but what about those ordinary individuals, who are no lesser citizens, are frisked any number of times everyday? Even considering the perceptible difference in valley between 1992 and now, the intended flag hoisting attains even higher status of irresponsibility and destructiveness. In 1992, the valley was in the heightened throes of militancy; and at present it is grinding back to limping normalcy after a long summer of non-militant strife. Any sensitive leadership would grab the opportunity to build bridges with separatists through parleys and other confidence building measures and refrain from any act that would weaken moderates and strengthen hardliners within the valley. But given their virtuosity for insensitivity and recklessness, it perhaps is asking too much from the people who entire their life never believed in anything constructive and who rather revel in sinister-ness. Their hawkish activities peak every time they remotely sense chances of a solution to the intricate issue of Kashmir. They were leaving nothing unturned to sabotage back channel diplomatic overtures by the government during the time of Parvez Musharaf and similarly, it was hardly a coincidence last month when the entire clownish leadership of the BJP descended on Jammu. It is too hard for their communalistic instincts to fathom any concessions, contemplated for the population in valley, consequent to the recommendations of interlocutors. -Rajiv Kumar                      

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Indian emergency and ignorance

It would seem that Indians have a penchant for hanging on to the past; they find it very hard to let past events take anointed places in the history and let the country move on to face the present day challenges. It is in the same vein that the issue of internal emergency is being raked up déjà vu. According to the news reports Congress party is blaming Sanjay Gandhi for it and clowns of the nationalist BJP, spearheaded by foot-in-mouth Lal Advani, are defending him. Up to a point they have every reason to do that; his widow and his son are both members of parliament and belong to the party. And it would certainly not be a travesty to state that his (Sanjay Gandhi’s) doings and his philosophy (if there was any) was in more consonant with bankrupt and ideologically humbug-saffron groups than any progressive and liberal party. One of his confidantes, who carried out his orders in the name of beautification of Delhi, was none other than Jag Mohan. Jag Mohan became a prominent figure in BJP after his dismissal as a governor of Jammu and Kashmir State. The Augean sized mess created by Jag Mohan during his tenure in the state still remains to be cleaned. But let us stay with that emergency of 1975 and the conditions that led to its promulgation. Congress party with Indira Gandhi as its leader had an unprecedented mandate in the parliament and was ruling almost all the states barring Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir. In the latter Sheikh Abdullah of National Conference had just taken over the reign of the government under Beg-Parthasarthy agreement and was supported by Congress legislature party. The combination of factors; cost of Bangladesh war and destabilization of the world oil prices coupled with many internal factors resulted in an overall disenchantment among masses. Complacency and arrogance on the part of the central and state leadership of the Congress party, in part due to assured incumbency and owing to fragmented opposition, contributed to an overall deterioration. And this was the time when Sanjay Gandhi had just come of age and had started dabbling in his brand of politics. The suave and intellectual group of Indira Gandhi’s advisors that included P. N. Haksar and others equally accomplished and eminent individuals were replaced by a brash coterie handpicked by Sanjay Gandhi. Again in every state, leadership unabashedly acquiesced to the crown-prince, and those who did not comply were summarily banished. The actual emergency was declared on June 25, 1975 and the entire machinery fell in line. There were good things also. All of a sudden trains started running on time and ‘babus’ stopped asking for bribes. But then those very bureaucrats went into an over zeal sometimes at the behest of Sanjay Gandhi and his mafia and most of the time overpowered by their lust of power, which exceeded their agenda. Jag Mohan was one of the coteries who came from a petty bureaucratic level to become a bastion of power in Delhi, a fiefdom bestowed upon by Sanjay Gandhi. Indira Gandhi after declaration of emergency issued a five-point program for the country and Sanjay Gandhi not to be out done issued an intellectually bankrupt ten-point pogrom (the word is intentionally used). Quotas were fixed; adult males were dragged from buses and trains for compulsory sterilizations; promotions were withheld and salary increments deferred until officials complied. Having arrested the opposition leaders and dissidents Indira Gandhi went on to bend constitution through a spate of amendments. Portents of emergency were already on the horizon before the actual proclamation. Some of it was due to thwarting of her socio-economic program by the reactionary judiciary; both her nationalization of banks and abolition of privy purses to the erstwhile rulers of princely states were struck down by the Supreme Court. In the current era of privatization and immoral market economy, it might be a trifle hard to understand that those definitely were progressive measures and those did make a difference in the society. Nevertheless, nothing justified the emergency and excesses committed in its name. It was a total subversion and due to that very fact it became unwieldy. According to Katherine Frank in her biography of Indira Gandhi, she realized the ultimate value of democracy or circumstances forced her and she, despite vehement opposition by Sanjay Gandhi, declared an election which she lost badly. Not many people know that RSS, the militant saffron organization of which BJP is a political front, tacitly supported emergency. To dabble into past in simplistic terms does nothing more than patronization and spreading of ignorance. The manner in which commercial media channels churn out ignorance makes one wonder, that perhaps a dose of emergency like treatment might do them some good or at least to the masses who suffer them.
-Rajiv Kumar