THE EMERGENCY REGIME, 1975-1977
I feel as though I have been left in a jungle blind folded. I cannot visualize the consequences of the Emergency. – K Kamaraj
The Year of Unrest and Agitations
Intoxication of Victory
Intoxicated by the unprecedented victory of the Bangladesh War of 1971, Indira Gandhi indulged in using her popularity and power in pursuit of her personalized objectives. In 1973, she became imperious. The controversial appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, A.N.Ray, was only a tip of the iceburg. She rendered the Cabinet ineffective. Congress became subservient to her whims and fancies. She brook no criticism and disdained dissent. She never trusted anyone completely. “She lost her balance after till’ Bangladesh war. Sanjay Gandhi was in complete control.’ Discontent and Unrest
The popularity of Indira Gandhi and her Government started waning by the end of 1972. The unbearable cost of the Bangladesh War and consequent sheltering of millions of milling refugees upset he apple cart of Indian economy Successive failures of monsoons in 1972 and 1973 offset the achievements of the Green Revolution. The result was food scarcity, rising prices and famine and inflation escalated by 20%. The oil-shock in October 1973 sky rocketed the price of crude oil and resultant price rise of petroleum. Rigid regulation of private sector prevented private investment from pouring into manufacturing
industries. Large scale industrial unrest spread through the country. Corruption
and scandals particularly the Maruti Car Project and Nagarwala episode undermined the credibility of Indira Gandhi. Wholesale state trade in food grains was a disaster. India was facing growing ‘social turbulence’. Indira Gandhi was haunted by her slogan Garibi Hatao.
Gujarat Agitation, Jan 1974
Chimanbai Patel, the Congress Chief Minister of Gujarat mismanaged the state. He was hand in gloves with the mill magnets of edible oil so that he could get election funding for the forthcoming state elections in U.P. The Public distribution system was deplorable. There was perennial shortage of food supplies. Restriction of inter-state movement of food grains made matters worse. The farmers were offered unremunerative prices. The Government was to the core. The Chief Minister was making lot of money by running
private colleges. His nagging interference with the functioning of the Gujarat
university was resented by the teachers and the students alike. All these rims contributed to social unrest in the state.
The students started and spearheaded the protest movement in the
State. Trouble started at the Government Engineering College in the first week of January 1974. Soon the agitation spread to other parts of the state. Students were joined by workers and opposition leaders. The Nav Nirman Yuvak Samiti, composed of students and youth leaders, demanded that 1) the Chief Minister resign; 2) the state assembly to be dissolved and 3) fresh elections held. The agitation turned violent. The Central Reserve Police and the border security force were summoned to control the law and order situation. The Chief Minister resigned on 9 February and President’s rule imposed on 15 March. The Gujarat assembly was dissolved.”
Bihar Agitation, March 1974
In 1974 Bihar one of the most backward states of the Indian Union, was the citadel of corruption, callousness, poverty and in-efficiency. Bihar politics murky and its administration was in shambles. Only 20% of its people were literate. There was widespread discontent against the government. Trouble started on 18 March 1974, when the Students’ Action Committee, representing several Patna college students and youth groups, held demonstrations in front of the State Assembly, protesting against maladministration, corruption and spiraling of prices. They were backed by the Jan Sangh, the Socialist Party, the Samyukta Socialist Party and Congress dissidents. The strong arm methods of police had driven the agitators to violence, which raged for our days. Government offices, Legislative Assembly, Municipal Corporation and educational institutions were paralysed.
Jayaprakesh Narayan (JP), re-entered politics, assumed leadership and converted the violent agitation into a mini-movement and gave the clarion call for, what he called, Total Revolution. All the political parties including the Naxalities rallied round the JP movement. He brought students, farmers, landless labourers and other deprived sections of the society under the umbrella of the movement. JP branded Indira Gandhi as the ‘worlds’ greatest ‘dictator’ and called for the ouster of the Congress Chief Minister, dissolution of the state assembly and holding of fresh elections. He led several silent, peaceful protest
processions and addressed mammoth meetings. The agitation continued
unabated throughout the year. The agitators were subjected to ruthless repression. But the Narora Congress dismissed the agitation as a fascist attempt to destroy democracy and to unleash a reign of terror.” Indira Gandhi refused todissolve the Assembly and challenged JP to face the general elections, due in February-March 1976. JP accepted the challenge.’
The Railway Strike, April-May 1974
On 23 April 1974, the socialist trade union leader, George Fernandes representing railway workers, announced a nation-wide strike from 8 May 1971 on a charter of demands. The concessions offered by the railway minister on 29 April were rejected by the unionists. On 2 May 1974, George Fernandes and 300 other union leaders were arrested. In the Lok Sabha, the opposition pari) leaders moved a motion of no-confidence motion against Indira Gandhi Government (9-10 May 1974). The Prime Minister vigorously defended the
government stand. Since the government proposals were rejected, the strike continued.
Invoking the Defence of India Rules, Indira Gandhi declared the strike
illegal. But thousands of workers continued the strike. George Fernandes
vowed to “change the whole history of India and bring down the Indira Gandhi
government”.” Railway transport was paralysed. Movement of food grains
stopped. Food shortage became acute. The Maintenance of Security ACI
(MISA) was invoked to break the backbone of the strike. Thousands of railway
workers were arrested and their families were asked to vacate the Railway
Quarters. The strike was crusted with iron hand. The Government was
condemned for its ruthless repression and authoritarian approach. The railway
strike besides bringing the various political parties together against the
government left a lasting bitterness. “Indira may have won this round, but the
brutal suppression of the railway strike was uniting and galvanizing her
The Pokharan Test, May 1974
On 18 May 1974, in the midst of Railway Strike, an underground nuclear
test was conducted at Pokharan in Rajasthan. The Pokharan Test eclipsed the
railway strike. India became the sixth nuclear power in the world. The nation
acclaimed the nuclear detonation but countries like the US., Canada, Britain, Pakistan and few other countries criticized India. The Pokharan explosion
demonstrated the high level of scientific expertise attained by Indian scientists.
Indira Gandhi maintained that India had the right to harness the atom for peaceful purposes and ascertained its right to conduct peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE) for unclear research and for the development of nuclear technology.
Scheme of Compulsory Deposits, July 1974
To mitigate the rigour of mounting inflation, the government drastically lit expenditure and imposed programmes of compulsory savings or salaries “I Incomes. The salaried employees were asked to deposit all wage increases and half of the additional dearness allowance received into compulsory deposits with the government. The deferred payment adversely affected the government servants, particularly the low-income group. Further, ceiling was fixed on all dividends paid by private companies. Tax payers whose income exceeded 15,000 were directed to put an additional 4% to 8% of their income into compulsory deposits. These measures coupled with soaring prices, rampant inflation and increasing unemployment, alienated urban middle classes – government servants, teachers, lawyers, professionals, officers in the armed forces, shop keepers and petty traders. “This hostility of the middle classes was a major political blow to the Congress and Mrs.Gandhi.
The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was passed in 1971.
According to the Act, a detenu had to be supplied the grounds of his confinement
within five days of his arrest and he can be detained up to six months. Then on
17 September 1974, the MISA was amended to enable smugglers of gold, drugs lid durable
consumer goods, hoarders and evaders of foreign exchange controls to be booked under preventive detention. The amended Act increased the duration of the detention to one year in the first instance and then to two years. The grounds of detention will not be disclosed to the detenues. Since the MISA was non-justiciable, the courts can not enquire into the grounds of detention. As a result, the citizen was left defenseless at the mercy of malicious
officials. The Democles Sword of MIS A was hanging over the heads of people. ‘India was on the way to becoming a police state”. MISA was a repressive reform with enormous potential for misuse and abuse.
Circumstances Leading to Emergency
Murder of L.N.Mishra, Jan.1975
The year 1975 opened with an ominous note. On 2 January 1975 Lalit Narayan Mishra, the Railway Minister and a notorious party fundraiser, was killed in a bomb explosion in the Samastipur railway station, Bihar. It was alleged that the assassination was the handiwork of the trade unionists after the crushing of the railway workers strike in May 1974. Indira Gandhi stated in her broadcast on 7 January that Mishra’s murder was a rehearsal for which she herself was ‘the real target’. The killers were never traced. Mishra’s death remained a mystery. It indicated which way the wind was blowing.
J.P’s Provocation, Feb.1975
Encouraged and enthused by the agitational success in Gujarat and
Bihar, JP on 15 February 1975, exhorted government servants, the army and
police “not to obey orders that are illegal or unjust” .He argued that civil
servants, soldiers and police officers were all obliged only to abide by till
Constitution, and not the will and whim of the government and its leaden
including the Prime Minister. He also asked the forces of authority and law and order to join a coup defetat by paralyzing the government and administration . He cautioned the people against the one-party dictatorship and be prepared to participate in dhamas, gheraos and demonstrations.
Marathon March, March 1975
On 6 March 1975 Jayaprakash Narayan led an 8 kilometer might marathon procession through Delhi to Parliament. Several thousa!1d people participated in the march. He presented a Charter of Demands to the Speaker 01 the Lok Sabha and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.” Later at a public rally, JP called for Indira Gandhi’s resignation. He compared the largest demonstration the capital city had ever witnessed to the Dandi March led by Gandhi in 1930 against the British imperialism.
Electoral Reverses, June 1975
Indira Gandhi was becoming unpopular. The elections reflected the mood of the people. The opposition won a spectacular victory in the keenly contested by-election to the Lok Sabha from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. (Jan. 1975). The opposition Janta candidate won at the Govindpura by – election Madhya Pradesh. The Congress lost in two out of the three by-elections to the Haryana State Assembly. (Feb.75). On 6 April 1975, Morarji Desai started his indefinite fast demanding elections to be held for Gujarat State Assembly. Election
was conceded. Congress campaigned for stability. JP campaigned for the Janata front, There was strong anti-Congress feeling in Gujarat. On 12 June, the election results were announced. The assembly strength of the Congress was reduced from 140 to 75. The Janata Front secured 87 seats and formed the ministry with Babubhai Patel as Chief Minister.
Allahabad Judgement, 12 June 1975
On 12 June 1975 Justice Jagmohun Lal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court delivered the historic judgement in the election petition of Raj Narayan against the election of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from Rae Bareilly in 1971. The bolt of the court verdict came on the same day the Gujarat Assembly election results were announced. Of the several charges against the Prime Minister, the Judge held her guilty on two counts: 1) Yash Pal Kapoor who assisted her in the election was still in Government service when he was appointed her election agent, and 2) She had been helped by the State Government in providing facilities for her election meetings. On these counts, election of Indira Gandhi as MP of Lok Sabha was set aside and she was disqualified for six years.” Indira Gandhi refused to resign and appealed against the verdict to the Supreme Court.
On 24 June 1975, Supreme Court Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer granted a conditional stay till the Supreme Court gave its final judgement. During the
interim period Indira Gandhi could continue as Prime Minister, speak in both
houses of Parliament but not to take part in their proceedings, nor vote or draw
her salary as a member of Parliament. Both the Congress and the opposition
hailed the stay order as having vindicated their respective stand.
Ever since the Supreme Court judgement was delivered on 12 June
11175, both the Congress and the opposition geared their belts and orchestrated
a series of pro-Indira and anti-Indira demonstrations and marches. On 12 and 13
June, Sanjay Gandhi and his followers organised massive rallies in support of
Indira Gandhi. The Congress Parliamentary party in its meeting on 18 June
reiterated its fullest faith and confidence in her and firmly believed in her continued
leadership as Prime Minister was indispensable. On 20 June the Delhi Boat
club rally, ‘the greatest event in history’ to demonstrate the strength and
solidarity of the supporters of Indira Gandhi was a stunning success. It was at
this rally the over enthusiastic Congress President D.K.Barooah floated the
slogan ‘Indira is India and India is Indira’.
Coalition of Opposition
Following the Allahabad judgement, Jayaprakash Narayan and the coalition of opposition parties called for a country-wide campaign. JP questioned the legitimacy of Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister, considered her the ‘fountain head of corruption’, accused her as the destroyer of democratic institutions, dictator longing for power and her continuation in office was “incompatible with the survival of democracy in India”. 18 On 16 June 1975 the opposition leaders met the President Fakruddin Ali Ahmad and presented a memorandum
on the constitutional crisis due to Indira Gandhi’s continuance in office, and urged her removal from office.
Ramlila Grounds Meeting
On 25 June 1975, JP addressed a historic mammoth mass meeting at the
Ramlila Grounds, Delhi. In the course of his speech, he announced a programme
of civil disobedience movement in the capital and other cities, appealed to the
police and the army to disobey illegal orders, asked the students to boycott
class rooms, and challenged Indira Gandhi to level charges of treason against
him and try him, if she felt that he was preaching treason against her. JP’s
Ramlila Grounds speech was the proverbicallast straw on the camels’ back. By
threatening to reduce the government and state to chaos JP “handed to Indira the justification she required to suspend Parliament and impose a state of
Imposition of Emergency, 26 June 1975
Stung by the extra-constitutional challenge of the JP movement, Indira
Gandhi retaliated by imposing internal emergency on the country. She consulted
the Chief Minister of West Bengal Siddhartha Shankar Ray, a legal expert on the
Constitution, not her Minister of Law, H.R.Gokhale, on the situation. He drew a
distinction between external and internal threat and since the external emergency
declared at the time of Indo-Pak war over Bangladesh in 1971 was inadequate in
the present crisis, he advised Indira Gandhi that “the President could impose an
internal emergency, which the cabinet could then endorse retroactively”.” The
Prime Minister recommended the proclamation of emergency and the President
signed the declaration at 11.45 p.m. on 25 June 1975. The Presidential
proclamation of Emergency declared that “a grave emergency exists, thereby
the security of India is threatened by internal disturbances’:” On the morning
of 26 June 1975, the Cabinet approved of her action. Cabinet consent was not
obtained prior to the declaration of Emergency.
Before the dawn of26 June, prominent political leaders like JP, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Asoka Metha, Chandrashekar, Raj Narayan, Piloo Mody Were arrested.” K.R.Malkani, Editor of the English weekly Mother Land, was lot spared. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani were arrested at Bangalore. Forewamed, Subramaniam Swamy and his friends escaped arrest. Nanaji Desh 11th and George Fernandes went underground. Electricity supplies’ were suddenly stopped to the Delhi based newspaper presses, so that the imposition of the Emergency and the pre-planned mid-night arrests of leaders were not “own the next morning. On 26 June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in her road cast over the AIR, defended the emergency.”
Pliable Parliament, July 1975
On 21 July 1975 the Parliament was convened to discuss the proclamation of Emergency. Question Hour was abolished. Members were not allowed to submit motions or move private member bills. The proceedings were censored. Speeches were not allowed to be reported in the press. The Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection) Act (1976) banned the publication of Parliamentary proceedings. In January 1976, the Parliament passed a resolution postponing elections to the Lok Sabha scheduled in February-March 1976. The elections were again postponed to November 1976. Thus, the Parliament is masculated and rendered ineffective.
Free press was a priority causality during the emergency. Due to preemptive power-cut, most of the news papers in Delhi could not appear on the morning of 16 June 1975. The Government issued stringent press guidelines lid banned publication of ‘objectionable matter’. Major newspaper owners were cowed down by coersive tactics. Four national news agencies were structured into one monolithic Samachar, which was used as a propaganda
machine.” Independent news magazines like Mainstream and Seminar chose to lose down their publication, rather than submitting to censorship. The Press censor ruled the roost. 26 The Indian Express group of papers bore the brunt of the Government malafide methods. The draconian Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Act of 1975 was effectively used to muffle the press.” As result, the press was tamed and crippled. To cap it all, on 31 December 1975, the Press Council of India, established in July 1966, for the purpose of preserving of the freedom of the press, was abolished. Several Indian journalists were jailed and the foreign correspondents were asked to quite India.
A Presidential Order suspended the right to move any court for the enforcement of fundamental rights. The Maintenance of Internal security (Amendment) Act (MISA) provided that the revocation of a detention order shall not bar the making of another detention order against the same person The Immunity Bill guaranteed life-long criminal immunity to the President Governors and the Prime Minister for all acts done before assumption of office and during the tenure of office! A number of legislature and regulatory measures were taken to impose strict censorship on the press. In short, the Government of India was authorized to arrest people without warrant, to suspend civil right and liberties, to limit the rights of courts to interfere, and to impose pre censorship.
20 Point Programme
On 1 July 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. in her broadcast to the nation, announced her programme of economic reforms which contained the following 20 point programme:
1) Steps to bring down the prices of essential commodities, streamlining of procurement and distribution of essential commodities, and strict economy in government expenditure. 2) Implementation of agricultural land ceilings and speedier distribution of surplus land and compilation of land records. 3) Stepping up of provision of house sites for the landless and weaker sections. 4) Abolition of bonded labour. 5) Liquidation of rural indebtedness. 6) Review of laws minimum agricultural wages and their increase 7) More water for irrigation
8) An accelerated power programme. 9) Production of more Khadhi and development of hand loom sector. 10) Improvement in quality and supplying people’s cloth Socialisation of urban and urbanisable land Ceiling on ownership and possession of vacant land. 12) Prevention of tax evasion 13) Special legislation for confiscation of properties of smuggler
14) Liberalisation of investment procedures. 15) New schemes for the association
of workers with industry. 16) Better road transport. 17) Income tax relict 18) Cheaper goods for students. 19) Books and stationary at control price 20) New apprenticeship schemes to enlarge employment and training, especial of weaker sections.
To the 20 point programme, Indira Gandhi added five more items of national priority, 1) National fitness; 2) Family Planning; 3) Afforestation 4) Child welfare and 5) Urban development. Sanjay Gandhi, the Youth Congress leader, for his part, added a four point programme: 1) Plant a tree; 2) Teach at lone to read and write; 3) Review India’s culture and 4) Take active part in active planning.
The 20 point programme was claimed to be an attempt to reach out towards long cherished ideals and to mobilize India’s vast reservoir of human and material resources for national reconstruction and development. It was a call collective action to create a new India free from want and exploitation, herading programme was expected to be a turning point in the country’s history, heralding a big leap forward in pursuit of the national objective of a dynamic, selfreliant socialist society. The 20 point programme was Indira Gandhi’s pledge to the nation and she was determined to implement it.
Ban of Organisations, July 1975
Opposition leaders were arrested and imprisoned. Voices of protest against the Emergency were effectively stifled. Suspected academics, trade unionists, newspaper men and student leaders were not spread. Arrests continued through out the period of the emergency. News papers were severely censored, On 4 July 1975, the Government banned the activities of 26 extreme communal and ultra-left organizations including the RSS, the Jamiat-e-Islami,
Anand Marg, Forward Block and Naxalite factions. The CPI was spared because it endorsed the emergency.
During the Emergency Era, several constitutional amendments were pushed through the Parliament. The 38ih Amendment decreed that the Emergency proclamation could not be challenged in the courts. The 39th Amendment laid down that the election of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, President or Vice- president could not be challenged before the courts and could be decided by a parliament Committee. The 40ih Amendment struck down the clause 4 of the 30th Amendment, which had placed the Prime Minister’s election beyond the scrutiny the courts. The 41st Amendment gave complete immunity from criminal
proceedings to President, Prime Minister or Governor. The 42nd Amendment sought to change the structure of the Constitution. it is under this Amendment the description of India in the Preamble to the constitution was changed to “a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic public”. This landmark Amendment strengthened the Executive at the cost
of the Judiciary; put an end to the Judicial Review of Constitutional amendment subordinated Fundamental Rights to the expanded version of Directive Principle
of State Policy; transferred the [mal power to decide the cases of disqualification
of MPs from the Election Commission to the President and of MLAs to the Governor; abridged the powers of the States in favour of the Central Government; and raised the terms of the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies from 5 to 6 years. In short, the 42nd Amendment upheld the supremacy of the Parliament.
Swaran Singh Committee
As the Amendments were hurried through, a conceited attempt had been made to re-examine the Constitution and change it from the Parliamentary to the Presidential form of democracy.” Swaran Singh Committee was appointed in February 1976 to go into this question. The Committee rejected the proposal for a Presidential form of government and asserted than the Parliamentary system was best suited to the country.
During the Emergency period, Sanjai Gandhi, second son of Indira Gandhi, holding no official position in the Congress Party, or the Government or any elected body, emerged as an extra-constitutional authority. He wielded enormous power, authority, clout and influence. He was projected as Indira Gandhi’s successor. His 5 point programme gained national importance.” Two of his measures roused the wrath of the people:
1) Forced sterilization campaign. Men and women were forcefullv sterilized. The vasectomy tents in cities, the sterilization vans roaming the countryside, the army of family planning ‘motivators’, the rewards and the quota system, the controversial ‘task force’, ‘family planning workers contributed to sterilization excesses. There was lot of rumours, resistance and repression. The programme undermined Indira Gandhi’s credibility among her strongest supporters such as Muslims, Harijans and other oppressed castes
2) Forced Slum-Clearance. In the name of city beautification ‘Sanjay Action Brigade’, and the obliging Delhi Development Authority, on 13 April 1976, demolished by bulldozers hundreds of houses, shacks, and stalls in till old city Turkman Gate, a Muslim dominated area displacing thousands of people. On 19 April there was police firing to quell the resistance to the demolition squads. A twenty-four-hour curfew was imposed on the entire area. In six day. The demolition was completed. The suddenness and the ruthlessness of of the opereration demolition’, autagonised the affected people. Turkman Gate came a symbol of Emergency excesses. The demolition was “as if an earthquake had struck, people covered If an earthquake had struck, people covered in fear”. Indira Gandhi had a creeping feeling that the “the situation was out of control”.
Resistance to Emergency
The public was paralysed when the emergency was imposed as a bolt from the blue. It stunned the people. The leaders arrested left no plan of resistance nor any strategy to counter the emergency. It was left to those lenders who were not arrested and those who had gone underground to organize the public resistance against the authoritarianism of the Government. They used several clandestine methods to mobilize public opinion. The resistance movement gathered momentum slowly but steadily.
On 27 June 1975, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) passed a solution demanding the revocation of the Emergency and the release of the leaders arrested. On 6 July, the party president and the Chief Minister Kurunanidhi, administered an oath, in an mammoth Marina meeting, requesting that Prime Minister to fulfil its demands that those who were detained be set at liberty and the legitimate rights of the press restored. On 5 December, a biggest ever public meeting was held at Coimbatore. The DMK ministry was dissolved
for misrule and disobeying the emergency laws and brought under the resident’s rule. Similarly, on 12 March 1976, another non-Congress Babubhai ‘ministry in Gujarat was dismissed. Citizens for Democracy, formed in 1974, under the Presidentship of JP,
organised an All-India Civil Liberties conference at Ahmedabad on 12 October 1975, and another meeting on 19-20 June 1975 at Bombay, resisting Emergency lid working for freedom. The RSS, though banned, was the backbone of the resistance movement. The Akalis were against the emergency. Sheikh Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir was not enthusiastic about the emergency. The Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy Case (September 1976), in which George Fernandas was implicated, was about the alleged criminal conspiracy against the Government of India.
Jayaprakash Narain and Total Revolution are the two sides of the same coin; like Siamese Twins they are inseparable. JP indicated his mind about it when he visited Ahmedabad (Gujarat). He advised students to give up studies for a year and devote themselves to eradicate corruption and work for Youth Revolution. When he was at Jabalpur (Bihar), he spoke about launching Total Revolution by building Janata Sarkars in Bihar villages. During the mighty march to the Parliament the focus of Total Revolution was against the ‘on- party dictatorship of Indira Gandhi. JP’s concept and advocacy of Total Revolution was the driving fore behind the JP movement. JP defined Total Revolution as “a comprehensive
revolution affecting all aspects of social life including individual life”. It will
embrace the caste system, customs and manners, marriage, education etc. A
revolutionary change could be brought about by education, civil disobedience
persuation, non-cooperation and partly less democracy. JP explained that II
total revolution was a combination of seven resolutions – social, economic
political, cultural, ideological, educational and spiritual.
In practical terms, Total Resolution had three objectives: 1) Social change through peaceful peoples power, 2) Social change through legal and administrative action, and 3) Changing the entire social frame work from within and also from outside, individuals as well as institutions. JP movement begun with four objectives, 1) eradication of corruption, 2) high prices, 3) unemployment and 4) radical changes in education. Then it was expanded to achieve the broader and all inclusive objectives of Total Revolution. JP was accepted as the
unquestioned leader of the second independence movement because he was known for his impeccable integrity, transparent honesty and selfless sacrifice.
JP’s ideals of grass-rot democracy, partyless democracy, youth POWCI, people’s revolution, parallel government, humane society etc are romantic, rhetorical and Utopian. JP movement based on Total Resolution was undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. It’s weaknesses were: 1) lack 01 ideology; 2) absence of well-knit organization; 3) want of line of leadership, 4) intellectual backing; 5) constructive programme of social change; and
6) alternative model of government. Nonetheless, JP’s Total Revolution served as an effective instrument of mass mobilization against the authoritarian regime of Indira Gandhi.”
Indira Gandhi’s Foreign Policy
The policy of Non-Alignment is the bed-rock of India’s foreign policy. Following the foot-steps of her predecessors, Nehru and Shastri, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi also declared her commitment to Non-Alignment. In the 1950s 1960s, several African countries had gained independence from colonial
Indira Gandhi realized the political importance and the economic potentialities of these countries. Indira Gandhi boosted the NAM Summit in New Delhi in 1967 with a view to strengthen and widen the unity and cooperation among Afro-Asian countries. Indira Gandhi acquired a niche and
prominence for India in the NAM on the strength of her acquaintance and personal equation with the leaders of non-aligned countries. “India was a dominant influence during the 1967 and 1970 summits of the Non-aligned countries
Relations with Foreign Countries
On invitation from the US President Lindon Johnson, Indira Gandhi- visited the US on 28 March 1966. During her visit, a scheme for the establishment of the Indo-US Educational Foundation was formulated, though it could not materialize due to strong opposition in India. Prime Minister’ Indira Gandhi impressed on the US President the need for American aid in terms of food and foreign exchange.’ America had suspended aid to India in 1965 at the time of the lndo-Pak war and now stipulated conditions before aid would be restored. However, Johnson premised three million tons of food and nine million in aid. The Indo-US relations touched the nadir when India signed the Treaty Peace, Friendship and Co-operation with Russia in 1971. America monstrated her displeasure against India during the Indo-Pak war in the same The U.S. vehemently criticized India for interfering with the internal affairs of Pakistan and President Nixon deployed the US 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal.’ America ordered complete stoppage of economic assistance and supply of
defence equipment to India. The Pokhran Test had driven a wedge in the” Indo
US relations. The US was not willing to buy back the spent fuel rods, nor was
it willing to allow India to use this material for further nuclear purposes, peaceful
or otherwise. This issue caused a stalemate in the relations between the two
countries. Though the visit of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of the State of the US, to India in October 1974, helped to bridge the gap between the two
countries, Indira Gandhi’s imposition of Emergency in 1975 strained the Indo
US relations. President Ford expressed his displeasure over ‘the derailment of democracy in India’. The US moved closer to Pakistan. In short, the Indo-US
relations received jolts and jerks than warmth and friendship during the first
phase of Indira Gandhi’s reign.
When Indira Gandhi succeeded Shastri as Prime Minister of India, she was regarded by the Soviet Union not merely as Nehru’s daughter but also as a progressive leader in her own right. In September 1966, she visited Moscow with a view to strengthen India’s ‘special relations’ with Russia. But India was dismayed when the Soviet Union decided to supply arms to Pakistan in July 1976. When Russia was disenchanted with Pak’s pro-US and pro-China stance
she started improving Indo-Soviet relations, which led to the conclusion of signing a historic treaty of peace with the country. Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation, 1971 On 9 August 1971, India and the Soviet Union signed the most
significant landmark treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation.’ The impact
of the treaty on Indo-Soviet relations was immense. The Treaty helped to
I) deter Pak threat to India’s security. 2) Check the possible Sino-Pak collusion
against India. 3) Neutralise the growing Washington-Pindi-Beijing entente
4) Help indirectly to make a decisive contribution towards the formation of Bangladesh. 5) Assure Soviet support during the Bangladesh War, and 6) Prevent the adoption of the US-China sponsored anti-India moves in the U.N. Security Council. In fine, during 1966-77, the Indo-Soviet relations, despite initial setback, continued to develop on positive and productive lines
In the post-1962 period, Indo-Sino relations remained cold and unfriendly. Even diplomatic relations were down graded. China came closer to Pakistan. During 1965 Indo-Pak war, China extended full support to Pakistan short of intervention in the war. Chinese attitude towards the border dispute with India, the continued border incidents between Chinese and Indian troops,
lid the Chinese surreptitious support to anti-Indian elements like extremist Nagas, Mizos, the Naxalites etc combined to create further strains in the bilateral elations between the two countries. China had cold-shouldered the offer made by Indira Gandhi in 1968 to have talks on the border issue. During 1966-67, Indo-Sino relations continued to be unfriendly and hostile.
Relations with Neighbouring Countries
The Indo-Pak War of 1971 brought the relations between the two countries to a breaking-point The Simla Agreement (1972) which followed the war restored mutual relations. This was followed by the Delhi Agreement (1973) which resolved the issue of repatriation of Prisoners of War (POW) and the problem of returning Bengalis from Pakistan and Bihari Muslims from
Bangladesh to Pakistan. When Pakistan attempted to integrate’ Azad Kashmir’ (POK) with Pakistan (1975), Indira Gandhi neutralized the nefarious attempt by concluding an accord with Sheikh Abdulla on February 1975, thereby reiterated that Kashmir’s accession to India as full and final. Pakistan turned hostile Inwards India.
Mujibur Rehman, who spearheaded the liberation struggle, assumed power in Bangladesh on 12 January 1972. The erstwhile East Pakistan became an Independent Sovereign State. India recognized the new nation even before the war was over. On 10 December 1971, the first Indo-Bangladesh Treaty was signed by Indira Gandhi and acting Bangladesh President Nazrul Islam. A Joint India-Mukti Bahini command was set up under India’s General to liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan. According to this treaty India pledged to protect the territorial integrity of Bangladesh; promised economic assistance for its reconstruction; worked out the details about the return of refugees from India; lid to withdraw the Indian army from that country as early as normalcy was published.
Mujibur Rehman visited India on invitation from 16 to 18 February 1972 and held talks with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Both leaders resolved that the two neighbours would be guided by the principles. of democracy, socialism, secularism, non-alignment, opposition to racialism and colonialism. India had agreed to withdraw its troops by 25 March 1972. The two Prime Ministers decided to ensure that bilateral trade between the two countries be regulated through official channel so that anti-social elements would not take advantage by smuggling.
When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi toured Bangladesh on 19 March 1972, The Treaty of Friendship and Peace for twenty five years was signed. The treaty gave shape to the similarity of views, ideals and interests; assured Bangladesh of India’s full support in securing its admission to the UNO; that the Indian Ocean should be kept free of great power rivalry and make it a
nuclear-free zone; to establish a Joint Rivers Commission on permanent basis; and consultations to continue at official level for exchange in science and technology. The treaty was a shot in the arm of Indo-Bangladesh friendship. But Pakistan described it as a virtual military alliance between the two countries!
The Treaty Agreement, March 1972
The Treaty of Friendship and Peace was followed by a separate Treaty of Trade Agreement signed on 25 March 1972. This comprehensive treaty provided for the creation of a duty-free zone; rupee trade upto rupees fifty crore a year; and trade in foreign exchange. Both the treaties were concluded in the spirit of equality, friendship and good neighbourliness. But the assassination
of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman on 15 August 1975 in a military coup derailed the carefully calibrated relationship between the two friendly neighbours. Due to the emergence of anti-India elements in Bangladesh, the relations between the two countries continued with caution.
The Farakka Barrage Issue
The Farakka Barrage was built by India during 1962-71 with a view to preserving and maintaining the Calcutta port and navigability of Bhagirathi- Hoogli. In 1972, the Joint Rivers Commission conducted detailed survey of the entire barrage. After Mujibur Rehman’s visit to India (1974), an interim agreement was concluded (1975) for allocation of Ganga waters between the two countries However, this break-through agreement was derailed with the murder of Mujib
Anti-Indian forces raised their ugly heads in Bangladesh. In May 1976, Maulann Bhashari mobilized public opinion against India and led a Farakka Peace Marchi Since then the Farakka issue had become an irritant in India-Bangladesh relations Border Dispute
Like the Farakka issue, the border dispute between the two countries was an inherited problem. The demarcation of border along Tripura, Assam, and Meghalaya remained unresolved. The Bangladesh Rifles resorted to unprovoked firing in April and November 1976 upon Indian farmers brought the dispute to’ open. Two rounds of talks, one at Comila on 11 November 1976 and another in Dacca on 19th November were held to sort out the issue. Then a six-member Bangladesh delegation came to India on 12 December 1976 and held talks’ over border demarcation as stipulated in the 1974 Boundary Agreement. The progress in this regard was only marginal and the problem persisted.
The Economic and Trade Agreements were concluded during 1972-75 In order to increase and diversify trade between the two countries. Due to political instability in Bangladesh after the military coup and the emergence of into-India forces, both countries found it difficult to promote bilateral trade links. Despite adverse circumstances, India and Bangladesh reached an
agreement in January 1976 for checking the decline in bilateral trade and for securing increased two-way trade between them. In December 1976, India, Bangladesh and Nepal agreed to form a Jute International for coordinating their jute export policies. These were indeed bold attempts to promote mutual trade relations.
Maritime Boundary Dispute
The New Moore Island is of critical importance to both India and Bangladesh.” The Island remained a bone of contention since 1970. The Indian navy surveyed the island and erected identification pillars on it in 1974 in accordance with international practice. India also duly notified the British Admiralty and the US Navy about the Island and its Indian ownership. India
brought to the notice of Bangladesh the issue of delimitation of maritime boundary
vis-a-vis New Moore Island during India-Bangladesh talks in 1974; the fact of Indian ownership of the island was also underlined. In 1978, Bangladesh for the first time questioned the Indian claim over the Island!
Indo-Sri Lanka Relations
The Indo-Sri Lanka relation was fruitful and productive “in the” 1970s. Indira Gandhi clinched a deal with Srilanka to find a solution to the twin problems maritime boundary demarcation and ownership over the Kachativu Island. dispute over the demarcation of maritime boundaries between the two countries remained unsolved since 1956. So also the sovereign rights over the Kachativu were the bone of contention between India and Sri Lanka.
Kachhativu is an oval-shaped island with a circumference of three miles, with a total area of about 280 acres. It is about 10 miles nearest land mass of Sri Lanka and 12 miles from Indian shore. It is a barren, uninhabited and cactus covered island, without drinking water. There is an ancient church of
Saint Anthoni on the northern coast and pilgrims from both India and Sri Lanka used to visit the island on the eve of annual festival in the month of March. Both the countries laid claim over the island on the basis of historical links, documents and the location of the Island. Finally, a Maritime Boundary Agreement of 28 June 1974 demarcated the international maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka, which placed Kachhativu on the Sri Lanka side of the boundary. However, Kachchativu remains the object of concern for India due to provocative incidents involving Sri Lanka Naval Patrols and unarmed Indian Fishermen.
The Indo-Soviet Treaty and India’s role in the liberation of Bangladesh increased the importance of India in South Asia. India abandoned the policy of appeasement towards Nepal in favour of the policy of reciprocity. The new policy put an end to unilateral concessions. India’s changed altitude and approach manifested when the issue of renewal of Trade and Transit Treaty with Nepal (1970) was taken up. In 1974, Indo-Nepal relations got strained when Nepal reacted sharply when Sikkim acceded to India. In 1975, India cold shouldered king Birendra’s proposal for the acceptance of Nepal as a zone of peace. Further, India decided to place restrictions on the movements of Nepal nationals in some specified areas of Indian territory. In effect, the Indo-Nepal relations remained anything but cordial.
Indo-Bhutan relations remained cordial ever since India concluded a revised treaty with Bhutan on 8 August 1949. When Sikkim became part of Indian Union in 1976, many countries, particularly China, tried hard to impress upon Bhutan to beware of India’s designs. But the king of Bhutan, Jigma Singha Wangehuk remained loyal to India and felt assured of India’s respect to the sovereign status of Bhutan. India continued to generously contribute towards the economic development of the Himalayan kingdom. In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi undertook to meet the entire cost of the ambitious Bhutanese hydro-electric project on the Chukha River and Purden Cement Plant. Indira Gandhi kept the king of Bhutan in good humour.
Nuclear Policy and Programme
After the death of Dr. Homi Bhabha in an air crash in January 1966, Indira Gandhi entrusted the task of creating India’s nuclear and space potentialities with other senior atomic scientists – Dr. Vickram Sarabai, Dr.Homi Sethna and Dr.Raja Ramanna. Indira Gandhi departed from the nuclear policy of Nehru and Shastri, kept the nuclear options open, and allowed the Atomic Energy commission to prepare an underground nuclear test.
India conducted its Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) at Pokhran (Rajasthan) an 18 May 1974 and earned entry into the exclusive nuclear club of the world. Indira Gandhi forcefully defended the explosion on the ground that It was completely controlled; conducted to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purpose; to defende the right to have access to peaceful nuclear technology through indigenous research and experimentation; and that India was opposed to the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. The explosion did not increase the level of atmospheric radio-activity and was in conformity with the provisions of Moscow Partial Test Ban Treaty. In short, the Pokhran test
demonstrated beyond doubt India’s nuclear potential.
The Pokhran peaceful Nuclear Explosion was subjected to scathing criticism by the US, Western Powers, China and Pakistan. The test was criticized because 1) the border-line between a peaceful nuclear explosion and a military nuclear explosion is wafer thin; 2) constituted a step towards nuclear proliferation with non-peaceful potentials; 3) raised suspicion that India was already In possession of nuclear bombs; and 4) will inflict serious strain on Indian economy and reforms. The series of economic and technological sanctions Imposed on India by the US and other countries had “a negative impact on the country’s economic and technological development”. As a result of this nuclear experiment, “India became vulnerable and isolated”.” “Objectively speaking, the test and subsequent assurances by New Delhi did not assuage apprehensions about Indian intentions in the South Asian region and amongst nuclear weapons powers”.
Indian and the NPT
India has always been the votary of disarmament and arms control. As early as 1954 Nehru condemned nuclear tests as ‘a crime against humanity’ and proposed an immediate ‘standstill agreement’ on nuclear testing. India was till’ first country to cry halt to nuclear tests. In December 1954, India made a formal proposal for total cessation of nuclear testing in the U.N. General Assembly Soviet Prime Minister Bulganin followed this cue and proposed the cessation
of nuclear testing in October 1956. On 5 August 1963, a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was signed by the Foreign Ministers of UK, USA and USSR. Finally, 12 June 1968, the UN General Assembly endorsed the US and USSR proposal for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by a big majority. The Treaty came into force on 5 March 1970.
India has been consistently persistent in its policies on non-proliferation and disarmament issue on the following: 1) opposition to nuclear weaponisation, 2) universal total nuclear disarmament; 3) acquiring and developing nuclear technology for only peaceful purposes; and 4) voluntary submission to uniform and universal controls, safeguards and inspections without any exception of discrimination whatsoever.”
Indira Gandhi Government conducted Nuclear Explosion at Pokhran but refused to subscribe to the Non-Proliferation Treaty because Indira Gandhi found India surrounded by expanded nuclear weapons deployment. Both till US and the Soviet Union had forces equipped with nuclear weapons deployed in the Indian Ocean and the Asia Pacific region, from Hawaii to Diego Garcia Added to this, the nuclear threat from China was presumed to be real. To make matters worse, Pakistan had commenced its ‘clandestine nuclear weaponisation programme immediately after its military debacle in 1971. Above all India was irked by the patently discriminatory character of NPT. Hence, Indira Regime rejected the compartmentalized, one-sided and discriminatory technology system of nuclear disarmament and incurred the wrath of the Super Nuclear Powers.