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Kuldip Nayar on Emergency

i picked this up from a forward chain mail...here it goes..


Transparency in system

22 June 2011


*Between The Lines ~ Kuldip Nayar*

http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=374088&catid=39

*The new generation must understand that today’s non-governance or
mis-governance is the fallout of what Indira Gandhi had done 36 years ago by
destroying an established democratic order *

How do you make the new generation relate to Emergency imposed some 36 years
ago this week? I have been asked this question many a time. The Congress
government will not talk about it as long as the Indira Gandhi-Sonia Gandhi
dynasty ~ the guilty lot ~ is in power. It considers any criticism of
Gandhi,s autocratic rule during that period an affront to the family.

The BJP, which too had gone through the rigours of autocratic rule at that
time, does not understand the ethos of liberalism. The party,s religious
identity is an antithesis to what India stands for. And, scholars are not
objective enough to tell the truth. Some interpret Emergency as a measure to
tackle anti-Left forces. Even otherwise, only a few dare to point out the
excesses of those days because the impression is that when you do so, you
are tagged anti-Congress, and will be out of favour with the “rulers”. The
entire story is yet to come out. In fact, the demand for making papers from
those days public, raised again and again, goes unheeded.

What happened during Emergency, which lasted from June 1975 to January 1977,
is the shameful story of a takeover by a Prime Minister to cling to power
and protect her skin. Indira Gandhi suspended the Constitution, gagged the
Press and imposed personal rule to overcome the handicap of
disqualification from Parliament. Allahabad High Court had debarred her from
the membership of Lok Sabha for six years as she had used the government
machinery while contesting an election. Leftist Supreme Court judge Krishna
Iyer gave her reprieve through a stay order on the High Court,s judgment.
Once she was off the hook, she showed her hand and extinguished the lights
of democracy that had distinguished India from the other Third World
countries. With the help of her son, Sanjay Gandhi, an extra-Constitutional
authority, she changed laws and destroyed all institutions, carefully and
methodically built by her father Jawaharlal Nehru over the years. She became
a law unto herself, concentrated all authority in her office and did
whatever she and her son fancied.

First, she detained more than one hundred thousand people without trial ~
all were her critics. She then reduced the civil service to no more than a
device to endorse her illegal orders. She instilled so much fear in the
minds of people that they stopped differentiating right from wrong and moral
from immoral. There was no odium in hitting below the belt, nor indulging in
foul means. None talked about values, much less about fair methods. There
were no limits to which Gandhi would not go to serve her ends. Still worse,
she banished morality from politics. The nation was shaken but fell silent.
Fear stalked the land. So much so, even the judiciary dared not pronounce
any judgment which the government would not like. And, media became more
loyal than government censors.

The institutions emasculated during Emergency never got back their original
vigour or sanctity. The political leaders who rose to prominence after
Emergency concentrated more on undoing Gandhi than correcting her misdeeds.
Most of them, even state chief ministers, adopted her autocratic way of
governance. They found it easy and convenient to deal with the Opposition
that way. Since then, the hapless civil service and the battered police
force have come to obey whoever secures power, disregarding service rules
and age-old traditions. Both have fitted themselves in a new mould where the
key criterion is obedience, not integrity. The lower judiciary has still not
got out of the Emergency hangover when magistrates would sign blank warrants
of arrest. Most of its judgments appear to be written under pressure. The
new generation must understand that today,s non-governance or mis-governance
is the fallout of what Gandhi had done by destroying an established order ~
a natural corollary. Scams emanating from the Bofors guns deal or 2G
spectrum allocation are only a tip of the iceberg. Many more scandals are
going to tumble out. In a democratic society, the nation expects the state
to assure that vital links of the government will not be subjected to
strain. But the situation is the opposite.

It all started with a by-election in Orissa in 1972. Nandini Satpathy was
elected to the state Assembly after spending lakhs of rupees. Gandhian
Jayaprakash Narayan raised the matter of corruption with the Prime Minister.
Her defense was that the Congress had no money even to run the party office.
When he got no response, he took the issue to the nation. One thing led to
another until JP made it clear that the battle was between the people who
wanted the government to be accountable and the government which was not
willing to come clean.

The same problem has returned after 36 years. The entire debate before the
country is on corruption. The government wants to do little to eliminate it.
The public is determined to see the end of corruption, particularly when one
minister after another is found involved in some scam or the other. The
comptroller and auditor-general of India has indicted the Union petroleum
and natural gas ministry for allowing “irregularities and bending rules” to
“oblige” Reliance Industries Ltd, resulting in an “unquantifiable” loss to
the exchequer. This shows how powerful the corporate sector has become.
While people increasingly seek transparency, the government sees to it that
the avenues for public information are reduced. Only a few days ago did it
exclude the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the ambit of the
Right to Information (RTI) Act.

To pay homage to JP, who launched a movement to challenge the Central
government on issues relating to corruption, I went to Patna. Five June was
the day when he gave the call to bring about Sampurna Kranti (total
revolution). There were only a handful of people at JP,s house, where he
lived and died, to commemorate that day. The place wore a desolate look
though it used to be a hub of political activities that resulted in the
defeat of Gandhi at the 1977 election. What disappointed me was the absence
of Bihar chief minister Mr Nitish Kumar ~ a product of JP,s movement ~ from
the commemorative event. There was not even a meeting called by the
government to honour Sampurna Kranti. Karl Marx rightly said: “The
philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point however is to change
it.”

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