"Emergency" - Lesson for Minorities
Two of a Kind
Emergency was declared by the Indian state under Indira Gandhi on June 26, 1976 which suspended all fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, thus marking the death of democratic governance. The 25th anniversary of this declaration falls on June 26, 2000. It is most ironical, the BJP should plan to hold meetings to remember this. It is salutary to recall the role played by this political outfit of the RSS and the RSS itself during that period. It is on record how both betrayed the struggle against the Emergency. The RSS leader, Balasaheb Deoras in abject style apologised to Indira Gandhi in several letters from inside the Yerawada Jail in Pune, dissociating the RSS from the Jayaprakash Narayan led movement and offering to work for the infamous 20-point programme; Indira Gandhi couldn’t care less. As for Vajpayee, he followed suit, apologising like his mentor, the RSS, his self-declared soul. Indira Gandhi obliged him with the result for a good part of the 20-month emergency he was out on parole after having given a written assurance that he would not participate in any programme against the government. Of course there were several other friends of his who walked out of the prison on promise of good behaviour. The RSS stopped short of signing the document of surrender, thanks to declaration of general elections to the Lok Sabha.
Characters like Jagmohan, Maneka Gandhi and others who perpetrated the excesses and victims like George Fernandes, Vajpayee, Arun Shourie and others are now together in an unholy alliance, with the BJP recalling the Emergency of 1975. The irony is that there are already shades of the emergency in the authoritarian rule of the NDA with the BJP using the state machinery and its lumpen outfits like the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad etc. to sabotage all the constitutional institutions in the land. With Advani visiting Israel to learn how to fine-tune the instruments of torture and oppression used by the Israelis against the Arabs and the efforts to bring in the new TADA, the constitutional lumpenisation is in place.
The Emergency initiated the majoritarian politics. One has to recall Sanjay Gandhi’s coercive family planning programmes, targeting the Muslim slums and bastis, watched with admiration by the RSS leaders. This has its parallel in Advani’s rath yatra and its climax in the demolition of the Babri Masjid that brought the BJP its rich harvest of blood soaked votes, reaped in the wake of blood-letting riots all over the land. For a change, the Christians are the target of the psuedo-nationalists, the former charged with conversions and being anti-national in character.
Another fall-out of the Emergency was the incurable itch to rewrite the Constituion to sustain the ‘stable’ state and the ‘able’ leader, hence the Swaran Singh Committee was set up. Now, we have the jurists and others who have allowed themselves to be pawns in the game reviewing the Constitution, thus replicating the game played 25 years ago.
Another feature of the Emergency was the Prime Ministerial family as a source, if not centre of power exercising extra-constitutional authority with Sanjay Gandhi calling the shots. Now it is the turn of Vajpayee and his foster family exercising this extra-constitutional clout. So the myth of charisma bestowed on the Prime Minister, carefully nurtured and promoted by the media managers and the manuvadis is totally opposed to democratic ethos.
The most blatant of all this is the failure of processes of law as seen in the procrastination in the Babri Masjid cases, genocidal attacks on Muslims then and now on the Christians with wanton failure of intelligence and police investigation, the culprits going scotfree and the rule of law given the go by. This is no surprise when the prime accused in the demolition holds the home Ministry. The shades of emergency are already there.
The stranglehold of the BJP over the NDA, the kowtowing of George Fernandes, Chandrababu Naidu, Paswan, Mamata and a host of toadies, steady subversion of all rights guaranteed in the Constitution, infiltration of the Sangh Parivar at all levels in the body politic, people are confronted by a set of unprincipled actors intent on power and lucre. The oppressive Indira Gandhi regime could be overthrown because it had a lumpen following whereas the present regime driven by the Manuvadi theology drawn from medieval thinking, cadre-based, casteist and racist, totally a monster of iniquity that has to be confronted and overcome in order to uphold the plurality and heterogeneity of Indian democracy.
The unnamed foreign hand blamed in the past for all the lapses of the ruling class has been replaced by the ubiquitous Pakistani ISI, found where-ever intelligence fails. The killing of Christians, destruction of copies of the Bible and houses of worship are all laid at the doors of the ISI. But the RSS leader, Sudarshan as reported in the RSS weekly, Organiser dated June 11, was more honest and forthright in a speech in Raipur,”..... much is said against the RSS in the context of the recent alleged attacks on the missionaries, but the fact is that popular reaction is the pent up anguish of the people against the undesirable activities of the missionaries in the interiors, particularly the tribal belts of the country. “He has not accused the ISI as the fomenter of these excesses.
The point made here is: there is emergency though not formally declared. This unholy alliance of the NDA which has also become a creature of globalisation and the subaltern of the only super power in the world, its standard-bearer against so-called terrorism has to be opposed because it is totally subversive of democracy, inimical to the interests of the poor and marginalised.
In this struggle against this monstrous iniquity called the NDA, Dalits, tribals, minorities and other backward classes and the poor in particular have to make common cause to exorcise this evil from this country. The common people have a vital role to play to usher in a truly democratic and secular polity, free from caste and class oppression.
Two of a Kind
D. A. Sait
With a long, plastic sack slung over his left shoulder and the left arm thrust deep inside the mouth of the sack to keep it open this ten-year-old rag-picker in rags made for the garbage-bin on the pavement right across from my first floor apartment as I stood watching. As he bent over the nearer of the two bins looking for something of value (to him) to be picked, a small girl with a garbage pail came and emptied its content into the same bin. The girl then withdrew, and the first thing this boy laid his hands on was a folded banana leaf. He picked it up and opened it. His eyes glowed with delight and the nagging hunger inside him danced with hope, for inside the folded leaf was the leftovers of a rice meal and goodies, just about enough to still the pangs of his hunger. He promptly sat down on the edge of the pavement licking his lips. It was obvious that he hadn’t come across a square meal in a long time. Looking to his right and left, to make sure that he was not going to be interrupted in his enjoyment of the repast he spread out the precious banana leaf on a flat, granite stone of the pavement which served as his dining table. Then he squared his shoulders and took in the first mouthful. His appetite now whetted and lighted up like a chandelier, he was all set to gobble up whatever there was on the leaf. Out of nowhere appeared a mongrel, a bitch, and its two pups, drawn by the sight of the food. The bitch stood a couple of feet away from the boy, watching him, and the pups kept hurling themselves at the mother’s breast, but finding little sustenance as the mother herself had not found her foraging for food any successful. Thus they remained for sometime, this bitch and the boy, eyeing each other warily.
Then the boy made up his mind. He left the banana leaf open on the flat stone and did not help himself to another morsel. He pushed the leaf towards the poor mongrel. The hungry animal understood the gesture as an invitation. It approached the leaf with its tongue hanging out, the pups still trying to suckle at her breast. The ravenous beast polished off the leaf clean with its long tongue. Then it took a tentative step towards the boy, nudged his knee and began to lick his face in gratitude. The boy put his hand round the animal, scratched its face and fondled its ears.
“It’s all right, chum,” said the boy, as though he were talking to another human waif like him. “No need to thank me. We homeless wanderers must stick by one another, mustn’t we?” Then he stood up and shouldered his sack and picked up his feet, the bitch and the pups followed. I watched till they were out of sight, the bitch and the pups still right behind, ready to follow him to the ends of the earth.