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Category: Post Independence History (Page 1 of 2)



 Rao is the cleverest Prime Minister India has had– James Manor


The 10th Lok Sabha Elections were held in two stages in June 1991 IN
the midst of election campaign, 46 year old Raj iv Gandhi was assassinated ON 21 May 1991 at Sriperumbhudur, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.’ The election was fought between three coalition of parties;

1) The Congress, the AIADMK and four other smaller parties;

2) The BJP and the Shiv Sena; and

3) The Janata Dal led National Front along with the CPM-Ied Left Front.

The Congress emerged as the single largest party with 232 seats, increased to 251 through an alliance with its supporting parties.’ The BJP alliance accounted for 123 seats. The combined strength of Janata Dal alliance was 140 seats. In this election, many Muslim voters decided to vote in each constituency for a secular party which was in a position to defeat the BJP.

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi swung sympathy votes to Congress.’ In the absence of national alternative,  Congress was the only party with a base all over the country to form the  government.


Party President


The Congress unanimously declared Sonia Gandhi as its President. But she refused to accept the post.” Narain Dutt Tiwari, Arjun Singh, Sharnd Pawar and Narasimha Rao were the aspirants for the top post of the party.  The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) unanimously elected Rao as its leader (20 June). “When Sonia Gandhi learnt that Rao had been chosen to lead the party she did not oppose his candidature”.


An erudite scholar and an enviable multi-linguist, Rao was a pragmatic politician. As Congress President, he was punctilious about ends and means for him ends justified means! He was a firm believer in the adage ‘politics is the art of the possible’.



Minority Government

P.V.Narasimha Rao, leader of the single largest Congress Party, was able to form the Ministry by himself and he was charged with the responsibility of running the country. He was the first Prime Minister from the South and well- versed in Hindi. He headed a minority government and his prolonged political  and administrative experience coupled with his close contact with political parties and  leaders helped him, in no small measure, to govern the country. “In his first year, Rao was more like a trapeze artist in a circus”.


On 20 June 1991, Narasimha Rao was appointed Prime Minister by President R.Venkataraman and the next day he, along with 57 ministers, were administered the oath of office. The ministry making left lot of bitterness behind. for instance, Madya Pradesh with 14 MPs had 3 cabinet ministers and a minister of sate; Andhra had 7 ministers, and Tamil Nadu, where the Congress and its allies had secured cent percent seats had no cabinet minister and some regions were totally neglected. Rao formed a minority government, managed to have a majority in the Lok Sabha and lasted a full five-year term. After the defeat of  the congress inthe 1989 elections; three minority governments followed in
sucesssion: 1) National Front government of Y.P.Singh, 2) the short-lived government of Chandrashekar, and 3) P. V.Narasimha Rao’s government.


New Economic Policy

Economic Crisis


Rao Government had to face the worst ever economic crisis in independence. The crisis had been simmering from the mid-1980s, ever sin the successive governments, instead of managing macro-economy, WOI feathering their nests by relying heavily on domestic and foreign borrowing Added to this was the steep rise in oil prices, consequent on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. As a result, the country had to face a crisis of high fiscal deficlt,
escalating inflation and setback to balance of payments, leading to a rapid depletion offoreign exchange reserves.


In 1991, the ratio of the central government’s fiscal deficit to GDP  reached an all-time high with 8.3%. The rate of inflation touched a peak of 17% and foreign exchange (forex) reserves dropped to a meager one billion dollars, This reserve amount was enough just to meet only about two weeks of imports ! “India was at the edge of a precipice, it could have even become a defaulter in meeting its international fmancial commitments. In other words, India was facing bankruptcy and insolvency.’ A shameful situation indeed.


Economic Reforms

Dr.Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister, rose up to the occasion and
decided to take the bull of economic crisis by its horns. Dr.Singh, a Congress
outsider, had an enviable academic track-record and enriched experience as
Secretary General in the South-South Commission and he had inside knowledge
of the international fmancial institutions. His priority was to correct major
distortions and deficiencies in the economic system.
He inherited the unenviable
legacy of the industrial policy pursued with a vengeance from 1965 to 1990, with
a solitary exception of limited liberalization in the 1980s, resulting in crippled
capacities, stagnated productivity, prohibitively high cost in-efficient industrial
structure, burdensome import substitution and ‘export pessimism’. In short.
India’s rigid industrial and import substitution policies resulted in structural
rigidities. The causality was erosion of economic competitiveness, and the
resultant stagnation of economic growth. So, Dr.Manmohan Singh embarked
on the course of Libera lis at ion, Competition and Globalisation.


Economic Measures
‘evaluation of Rupee

On 9 July 1991, Shivraj Patil, who was the Deputy Speaker of the previous  Lok Sabha was unanimously elected Speaker of the tenth Lok Sabha, with the support of BJP, the main opposition party. On 12 July, Rao Government got the confidence motion passed by 241 votes to 111. Strengthened by the confidence vote, the Rao Government successfully negotiated IMF loan to tide over the forex crisis. Then the finance minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, directed the Reserve Bank ofIndia (RBI) to reduce the value of the rupee by 83% at one stroke and then another dose of devaluation by 11.3%. The Finance Minister also formulated a scheme for bringing down the deficit by drastically cutting subsidies on
food, fertilizer, petrol etc. Dr.Singh was “valiantly struggling to keep the sinking
economy afloat”.” Manmohanamics saved the situation.


Budget for 1991-92


The budget for 1991-92, presented by the Finance Minister, contained two controversial proposals. 1) Withdrawal of subsidies on fertilizer, and 2) a grant of Rs.100 crores, spread over five years, to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. II Both the proposals provoked strong reaction. Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the Trust, declined the grant proposed in the budget. The budget was fmally passed when the Finance Minister had agreed to reduce the proposed subsidy cut of 40% to 30%. Rao’s minority government survived one more crisis.


Dismantling Controls

The Government ofIndia got standby loan of two billion-two hundred  million dollars – from the IMF. Simultaneously, the Government initiated a  series of far-reaching economic measures that permitted multinational corporations and companies to hold 51 % – instead of 40% – of the stock of Indian subsidiaries. These measures made direct foreign investnient possible In 34 major Indian industries, including transportation, food processing, tourism

and the manufacture of electrical equipment. The devaluation of the rupee encouraged the foreign investors and Indian exporters. The economic reform easures constituted an important step towards dismantling the stifling socialist controls on the economy.

Paradim Shift

The transition from state controlled socialist economy to market-driven liberalized economy was a ‘paradigm shift’ in independent India. Sweeping changes had been made since July 1991. These changes covered industry trade, tariff, investment, finance and tax policies. The objectives of the economic policy were: 1) to deregulate the economy; 2) to reduce the role of the public reactor; 3) to unleash private initiative and enterprise; 4) to accelerat
economic growth; 5) to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and 6) to ensure social justice and equity.



As the pro-verb says, there can be no protection if the fence  starts eating the crop. This is what was happened.

– Rajiv Gandhi.



 Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi on 31 October, 1984, the  congress Parliamentary Party passed a resolution recommending Rajiv Gandhi  the party’s candidate for the post of Prime Minister and recommending his name to the President. The President Sardar Zail Singh administered the oath of office to Rajiv Gandhi and his four Cabinet colleagues the same evening in a simple ceremony in the Ashoka Hall, Rashtrapati Bhavan. The first meeting of new Cabinet was held in the Rashtrapati Bhavan itself (31 Oct ). Rajiv Gandhi was an Eventful Prime Minister.’ “He was the first Prime Minister of India, perhaps of any democratic country, who had had nothing to do with politics”.’

Anti-Sikh Riots

Outside Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi city was in flames. Incensed by the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards, the infuriated mob  dulged in mindless rampage against Sikhs. For two days Delhi, particularly fringe ‘re-settlement colonies’ witnessed large scale riots. The frenzied mob targeted Sikh-owned shops and business places; they were looted and ched, The indiscriminate killings, burnings, raping and arson continued for
couple of days unabated. It reminded of the partition communal carnage of 1947. Rajiv Gandhi, who was mourning the death ofhis mother, swang introduction. Army was asked to take over the responsibility for maintaining law and order in the entire city. Refugee camps for riot victims were organised. A special Action Group was constituted to help in bringing relief and succor to he beleaguered victims. A programme of action was chalked out. Relief in the mn of tents, medicines, blankets, food and water was given on war-footing.


Proper security arrangements were made in every camp. Top most priority was  accorded to relief work. Rajiv Gandhi displaced extraordinary qualities leadership in crisis management”.’


Bhopal Gas Tragedy, December 1984

On 3 December 1984, there was leak in the Union Carbide chemical gas plant, which proved to be disastrous. The Union Carbide, a US multi-national pesticide company was set up in 1978. Despite the strong objection raised by M.N.Bach, Administrator of the Municipal Corporation, the plant was located in a residential area in Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, because labour was plentiful and cheap. Buch w~s transferred.” There had been leakages in the plant in 1978,1981 and 1983, but the leak on the morning of3 December 1984 was a human tragedy, exacting a heavy toll of men, women, children and cattle. Rajiv
Gandhi cut short his election campaign tour, rushed to Bhopal, the scene of gory carnage, consoled the survivors and promised compensation. The Bhopal  poisonous gas leak tragedy was “the worst environmental disaster the world has ever known”.

1984 Elections

With a view to acquire popular mandate, Rajiv Gandhi advanced by a month the date of general elections scheduled for late January 1985. In the election campaigns Rajiv Gandhi presented himself as Mr.Clean. His core campaigns Rajiv Gandhi presented himself as Mr.Clean. His core campaign theme was integrity, unity and stability of India. He admitted past mistakes and assured that they would be corrected. He promised to usher India
into the 21st Century.


Rajiv Gandhi won a landslide victory in the elections, thanks to the “sympathy wave”. “In a way 1984 elections were fought by a dead hero whose tragic death loomed large over the country’s voters”.’ He secured 80% of the  seats, 40 lout of 508 in the Lok Sabha. In fact, he got a greater number of votes  than had ever been secured by either Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi. In the  election 64.1 % of votes were polled and the share of Congress vote was 49%.The people .trusted Rajiv Gandhi and entrusted with him a massive national  mandate. Rajiv Gandhi’s position as Prime Minister was legitimatised.


Rajiv-Longowal Accord, July 1985


Rajiv Gandhi’s first act as Prime Minister was the fire- fighting operation  of containing the anti-Sikh riots. He constituted an investigating machinery to  trace out the culprits and then to punish them. Then his major policy initiative as to find an amicable solution to the Punjab problem. In January 1985, the  Akali leaders including its President H.S.Longowal were released. The tense  political situation created by the Blue Star Operation started to cool down. Terrrorism died down. Disenchanted by militancy, mass agitation and extremism, Longowal, President of Akali Dal, entered into negotiations with Rajiv Gandhi.


On 24 July 1985, Longowal reached an accord with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Cabinet. The accord was reached after protracted  negotiations. It was a memorandum of understanding. The salient points ofthe  record were: 1) The Government of India agreed to consider the proposal of  bringing out an all-India Gurudwara legislation. 2) The Anandpur Sahib  resolution, in so far as it dealt with centre-state relations, shall be referred to the
Sarkaria Commission 3) Chandigarh was to become the capital solely of Punjab.  4) Official commission would determine the extent of Hindi speaking territories to be transferred to Haryana in lieu of Chandigarh. 5) The farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will continue to get water from the Ravi-Beas system as on 1 July 1985. 6) Along with ex-gratia payment to those innocents killed in agitation after 1 August 1982, compensation for property damaged will also be paid. Longowal stated that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was not intended to undermine the Indian Union.


The Rajiv-Longowal accord was hailed as a diplomatic break-through  in the Punjab problem. It brought to an end a very traumatic period through  which the country passed. It began a new phase of working together, through  mutual understanding and give and take, to build unity and integrity of the  nation, The accord was “conciliatory in spirit and obviously preferable to his  mother’s military solution.” All opposition leaders, except the Lok Dalleader of Haryana, Choudary Devi Lal, welcomed the Accord. Though Akali DaJ”
endorsed the accord, the Sikhs were not enthusiastic about it. The Sikh followers
of the late leader Bhindranwale condemned the agreement as a “sell-out”. Atleast, the accord served as a ploy to postpone dealing with the controversial Issues in the Anandpur Sahib Resolutions.


Rajiv Gandhi’s New Economic Policy



Rajiv Gandhi was neither happy with the ‘mixed economy’ nor with the pampering of public sector undertakings. He wanted to bring about radical changes in the politico-economic system he had inherited.” He, therefore decided to liberalise the socialist system of licences and controls to suit the needs of globalization, modernization and urbanization. He formulated a four fold strategy to prepare the country to enter into the 21st century with confidence:

1) open the economy to free enterprise and market mechanism;

2) to introduce modernmanagement methods;

3) to clean up administration and

4) to democratize u-vitalize the ruling party.


Rajiv’s new political and economic order has been rornpared with the Perestroika of the newly chosen General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.”


Technology Missions



One of the ingenious innovative policy initiatives was the setting up chnology Missions. Guided by Sam Pitroda,” six technology missions established:

  1. I) The Drinking Water Mission;

2) The Literacy Mission;

3) Immunization Mission;

4) The White-revolution Mission;

5) The Edible Oil Mission; and

6) The Telephone Mission.


These technology oriented  mission were problem solving time bound projects. They applied science and
technology to solve the perennial problems of providing safe protected drinking
water to alI Indian vilIages; attacking mass illiteracy; immunization of pregnant
men and children; promoting milk production; increasing edible oil
introduction; and to bring one telephone to every village in India by the end of 20th  century. These missions heralded a multiple rural revolution in India.



Corruption, Scandals and Controversies
Bofors Scandal


On 16 April 1986, when opposition in Parliament was blaming Rajiv’s  Government as ‘steeped in corruption’, the Swedish National Raido, came out with the sensational story that in 1986 the Bofors unit of Nobel Industries Sweden, AB, the largest Swedish arms manufacturer had already paid a total of 5 million dollars into an account, code-named LOTUS, at the Schweizisher Bank Schweizisher. The contract was alleged to have authorized by Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 hen he was the Prime Minister and Defence Minister. The Bofors scandal pened the Pandora’s Box.

German Submarine Scandal, 1986

Bofors scandal was followed by the HDW German submarine scandal. soon after V.P.Singh took charge of the new portfolio of defence, he stumbled on huge kickback paid for the government contract to buy four submarines from a West German company, HDW. Rajiv Gandhi was furious when he came to know that an enquiry into the submarine deal was ordered by V.p. Singh without consulting him. Soon, V.P.Singh resigned from the government. The opposition and the press praised Singh’s honesty blamed Rajiv’s suspected cover-up.





Mrs.Gandhi started as Joan of Arc, and ended as King  Lear.

–  MJ.Akbar.


After 21 months of emergency, Indira Gandhi suffered 34 months of political exile. During this period of retribution, she was subjected of deprivation
harassment, commissions of inquiry, arrests, ceaseless interrogations and
humiliation. After the 1977 election debacle, Indira Gandhi, for some time kept
a low profile and then she came to her own. Janata Government’s calculated
witch-hunting and pre-planned persecution instead of weakening her, helped
to increase her popularity immensely. In November 1978, Indira Gandhi formallv
re-entered politics when she won the Chikrnagalur Lok Sabha constituency. It symbolized her remarkable political recovery. Her subsequent expulsion from
Parliament and incarceration in Tihar jail resurrected her “from the ashes of the Emergency” and made her the heroine of the country.


The 1980 Elections


After the dissolution of Parliament on 22 August 1979, seventh election
to Lok Sabha was held during the first week of January 1980. For Indira Gandhi this election was the last and most arduous ordeal for survival. She contested
from Rae Bareilly (U .P) and Medak in Andhra Pradesh. The disctedited and
self-destroyed Janata Party was fractured beyond repairs. The main contest
was between Charan Singh, the Jat leader; Jagjivan Ram, the Harijan hero; and
Indira Gandhi, the national stalwart. The election campaign reached feverish
pitch. The Janata leaders appealed to people to save India from the mother and the son; still beating the dead snake of Emergency excesses and threat to democracy, if she returned to power,’ On the other hand, Indira Gandhi promised stability and strong government. Her slogan ‘bring back Indira and save the country, (Indira lao – desh bachao) swayed the people.


The electorate once again reposed faith on Indira Gandhi and gave a  massive mandate to Congress (1) (2). The party secured 351 out of 542 Lok Sabha   Indira Gandhi’s victory was more spectacular in the number of seats she  n for the vote share of 42%. She had won more than two thirds majority of  seats. This was the biggest majority ever held by a party in the Lok Sabha.  Charan Singh’s Lok Dal and Jagjivan Ram’s Janata were decimated and relegated  the second and third places respectively.’


 Fourth Time Prime Minister

‘On 14 January 1980, Indira Gandhi was sworn in by the President Neelam  Sanjiva Reddy, as the fourth Prime Minister of’ India.’ She, once again emerged  as an indisputable leader of the country with a massive popular mandate and  her party was restored to a dominant position. As the public memory was proverbially short, the people forgot the emergency excesses, forgave her for  all  her sins of commission and omission and remembered only the non-  performance of the Janata Party. She had all the powers at her command to
reshape the density of India, Did she do it?


Daunting Task

Indira Gandhi’s first daunting task was the formation of her cabinet,  since most of her erstwhile trusted senior colleagues had deserted her at the  most testing time of distress. She had to chose her Cabinet from the inexperienced  new MPs. Persons who stood by her in her trials and tribulations were appointed  as ministers. Oldguard R.K.Dawan continued to be her private secretary. Prime  minister Indira Gandhi’s priority was to provide relief to 220 million victims of  drought across the country. She announced a 12 point programme and the  drought – relief measures were brought under strict central supervision for
effective implementation. National Awards, which were abolished by the Janata  government in 1977, were revived. Reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and
state assemblies was extended for ten more years for SC, STs and Anglo- Indian community. An .act was enacted to provided for detention of black-marketers and maintenance of supplies of essential commodities to the community,”


Dissolution of State Assemblies, February 1980

The Congress (I) Government followed the wrong and unhealthy  procedent of the Janata Government and on 17 February 1980 dissolved 9 state  assemblies of Bihar, Gujarat, Madya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar  Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and fresh elections ordered. The elections were held  28 and 31 May 1980. The Congress (I) captured power in all the 8 Janata  ruled states and in Tamilnadu AIADMK secured more than an absolute majority  in the sate assembly. The Congress (I) victory in the eight states was far more impressive than that of Janata success in these states in 1977. As a result of the
success in the state assembly elections, Congress (I) secured a commanding
position in the Rajya Sabha also. Thus the party consolidated its hold over the
states and in Parliament.


The Punjab Crisis
The Demands

The euphoria of lndira Gandhi’s victory in 1980 and her return to power  led to the defeat of the Akali government in Punjab. Darbara Singh was sworn  in as Chief Minister of Punjab. The Akalis, deprived of power, started an agitation
demanding Chandigarh as their exclusive capital, and a major share of the rivet
waters of the Ravi and Beas, to be shared between Punjab, Haryana and
Rajasthan. They also insisted on the immediate implementation of the Anandpui
Sahib Resolution and several other exacting demands. Bhindranwale, who was
released from the prison in 1982, distanced himself from the Congress, raised
the banner of militant revolt against it and demanded Khalistan, a sovereign
Sikh state. “He was supported in his demand by Sikhs within the country and


Escalating Violence


In 1982, Giani Zail Singh, a political rival of the Punjab Chief minister, Darbara Singh, became the President of India. Violence in Punjab was escalating The President, the Chief Minister, the Akalis and the hard core militant leader Bhindranwale who was openly preaching secession, were pulling in different directions. After the assassination of the Arnristar police chief, A.S.Atwal on 23 April 1983, the Chief Minister of Pun jab, Darbara Singh, sought the permission of Indira Gandhi to allow him to send the police into the temple complex in order to arrest Bhindranwale and his guerrilla army. But, “Indira, on the advice of Zail Singh refused to authorize this initiative”. In 1984  Punjab went out of control.



In 1984, the Punjab crisis degenerated into an explosive situation. Indian Gandhi’s Intelligence Agencies unearthed a major plot hatched by Sikhs and  Non-Resident Indians (NRI’s) supporters with Bhindranwale against the Hindu in Punjab. The intransigent Bhindranwale shifted his headquarters from the outer precincts of the golden temple to the inner sanctum sanctorum called Akal Takht. His terror squads were playing have in the countryside. Law and order situation in Punjab was fast breaking down as lawlessness and violence were escalating.



Operation Blue Star

Dismissal of Darbara Singh Government


In order to contain violence and to restore law and order, the  government of India, on 6 October 1983, dismissed the Darbara Singh  Government and placed Punjab under President’s rule. The next day, Punjab  and Chandigarh were declared disturbed areas. During the President’s rule, indiscriminate killing of innocent people had continued unabated. Many had been targeted and assassinated. The Akalis neither disowned Bhindranwale  nor did they expel him from the Golden Temple. The intransigent Bhindranwale  shifted his head quarters from the outer precincts of the Golden Temple to the  inner Akal Takht. His terror quads were playing havoc in the countryside.
Harmandir Sahib had been converted into an arsenal of illicit arms. It harboured
criminals and terrorists. All appeals, negotiations and dialogues failed; deadlock
continued. In 1984, the Punjab crisis degenerated into an explosive situation.



On the night of 30 May 1984, the Indian army surrounded the Golden  temple. The operation would be carried out by the ninth division of the Indian  army, commanded by Major General Gurdial Singh. “Operation Blue Star” was  he code name of the assault. For three days, the army was watching the  governments in and around the Golden Temple. On

3 June, all foreign journalists were expelled from Punjab. All movement in the state was halted. Punjab’s order with Pakistan was sealed. Practically, “The Punjab was cut of from the of the world in preparation for the final assault”.” On4 and 5 1984, the army warned the rebels inside the temple to surrender.


On 5 June, under cover of darkness, a team of army commandos gained entry into the Akhal Takht. They rescued the unarmed Sikh leaders of the Akali  Dal including Sant Longowal. On the morning of 6 June, the pitched battle began. In an effort to avoid too much damage to the Golden Temple, over a hundred soldiers lost their lives. Towards the end of the day tanks and artillery were deployed. The rebel defence crumbled. Bhindranwale and his associates died with their weapons in their hands. The remaining rebels surrendered. The Operation Blue Star was over. But the cost of the operation ‘material and human-was prohibitive and incalculable. The exact death toll of the civilians is  unknown till date. The golden temple library was destroyed in fire. The Akal Takht was severely damaged. “Operation Blue Star was a horrendous debacle”


Operation Blue Star was perceived as an affront to the Sikh community  rather than an attack on the uncompromising and unscrupulous communal  terrorists. True, a non-military option could have achieved the objective with  relatively less bloodshed, causalities and damages. However, the operation put an end to Bhindranwale’s senseless violence and mindless mayhem. It restored law and order. In short, it brought the region of terror to an end. “It was a testimony to Indira Gandhi’s courage and commitment to the unity and integrity of the nation that she ordered the launching of Operation Blue Star”.” But the
shadow of the operation Blue Star had lengthened over the face of India and  contributed to the assassination of Indira Gandhi.




After Operation Blue Star, disregarding security precautions, Indira Gandhi toured across the country, part of the forthcoming election campaign and returned to Delhi on 30 October 1984. On the morning of 31 October 1980·” Indira Gandhi walked from her residence at 1, Safdarjung Road to her nearby personal office at 1, Akbar Road. As she approached the gate, sub-Inspector Beant Singh, a senior security officer who had accompanied her on several of her trips abroad, came forward to open the gate and shot her from point blank
range. Constable Satwant Singh, ajunior recruit, emerged from the other side of the gate and sprayed bullets into her frail body. Bullet-ridden Indira Gandhi was  rushed to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences at 9.32 a.m. and at 2.23 p.m. in the afternoon she was pronounced dead. The devilish deed was done. Indira fell a victim to a carefully crafted communal conspiracy. On 3 November 1984, Indira Gandhi was cremated on the land next to Shantivan, the cremation sit” of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sanjay Gandhi.






The lionized. heroes of Janata morcha became the petty  villains of the Janata Government.


Elections of March 1977
The Announcement

On 18 January 1977, Indira Gandhi announced her decision to hold elections on 21 March and not in November as announced earlier. On the same  the leaders of the opposition were released. Later, others detained under  MISA were also set free. The announcement came as a bolt from the blue. Even  her close confidants were “dumbfounded when she called for elections”. The  announcement and the simultaneous release of leaders and others left the  opposition “anxious and bewildered”.’


Rise of Janata Party

Two decades of Congress in power (1947-1967) had corrupted and  corroded the credibility of the national movement-turned-political party. In  1967, Congress suffered a serious set back at the hustings and in 1969 it suffered  a split. Taking advantage of the split, few opposition parties attempted twice to  offer  an alternative to the decadant Congress. In 1970, six political parties met  often  in order to confront the Congress in Parliament with a common strategy.’  again in 1971, Congress (0), Jan Sangh and SSP with the support of Swat antra  forged a Front, but the electorate rejected it. Then seven parties, big and small,
formed the Bhartiya Lok Dal (BLD). Finally, the imposition of Emergency in  1975 and the pre-dawn arrest and incarceration of leaders propelled them to  project a common front against the authoritarian Congress. The result was the  rise of Janata Party. On 25 March 1976, Jaiprakash Narayan launched ‘the Janata  party in which were merged Congress (0), Socialist Party, BLD and Jan Sangh.  The new party was formally inaugurated on 1 May 1977 with S.Chandrashekar  as its elected President.


Sixth General Election, March 1977
The Janata Manifesto

The Janata Party Manifesto was the Charter of Promises. The party  promised to end the state of emergency; restore to the people the Fundamental  Rights; repeal MISA, review unjust laws and set right distortions; ensure that  Art.352 and 356 were not misused; promised to reduce election costs and lowering  voting age from 21 to 18; enforce rule of law; abolish press censorship and free  the press from governmental interference; delete right to property as  Fundamental Right; legislate for Right to Work and free public servants from  political pressure.

On the economic front, the Manifesto promised to work for decentralized  economy; end destitution and unemployment within a decade; introduce  appropriate technology to achieve self-reliance; accord primacy to agriculture  and rural sector; narrow down rural-urban disparities; increase production of mass consumption goods; ensure due place for small-scale and cottage industries; exempt small holdings from land revenues and purify the environments.


In the social sphere, the Manifesto promised reforms in education and  eradication of illiteracy; safe drinking water and group health; mass public housing; scheme of social insurance; non-violent family planning; safeguarding  the rights and interests of SCs and weaker sections; a Civil Rights Commission  machinery to check corruption; protection of rights of women; schemes fm  youth welfare and legal aid to the poor.


Regarding foreign policy, the Manifesto promised to oppose colonialism  and racism; develop friendship will all; follow ‘genuine non-alignment’; strive  for peaceful settlement of international disputes; improve relations with  neighbouring countries; promote regional cooperation; and strengthen armed  forces. The plethora of promises outsmarted and outwitted Indira Gandhi in her own electoral game.


The Election

On 18 January 1977, Indira Gandhi announced the sixth general election  which was to be held on 16 March 1977. In the early weeks of 1977 Indra  Gandhi commenced her campaign with vigour, courage and confidence.” The election turned out to be a ‘martal combat’ between the Congress and  the  Janata Party. The Janata Manifesto captured the imagination of the people and inaugurated an Era of Expectations. Apparently, “The Janata Party was a United  Front, under a common leader, a common platform, a common symbol, a common  list of candidates and a common campaign”.  The election commenced on 16 March 1977.


The Verdict

In the sixth largest democratic electoral exercise about 194 million voters
(60%) exercised their franchise. Janatha Party captured 298 seats, receiving  40%
of the vote. Congress, on the other hand, could get only 154 seats, with
35% vote. The CPM won 22 seats and the CPI -7. Indira Gandhi was swept away by the Janata storm; she was defeated in the Rae Bereilly constituency by her erstwhile opponent, Raj Narain, Sanjai Gandhi lost in Amethi. In Utter Pradesh, it could not win even a single seat out of84! Most of Indira Gandhi’s  cabinet colleagues and MPs were routed. It was the disastrous debacle the  list of congress had ever faced. The jubilant Janata parivar celebrated the downfall of imperious Indira Gandhi.” India witnessed a new dawn.

First Non-Congress Government
P.M.Morarji Desai

The Janata Party was confronted with the daunting task of choosing Prime Minister from among the three aspirants for the post: Morarji Desai,  Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram. JP and JB Kripalani favoured Desai though   had the largest support! The ‘consensus candidate’ Morarji Desai was  sworn in, on 23 March 1977, as the Fourth Prime Minister of India. He had the  distinction of being the first non-Congress premier. Earlier, in the morning, all  members of the Janata Party assembled at the Rajghat, paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi and took oath solemnly administered by JP to endeavour earnestly to

fulfill the task of the Father of the Nation.


Janata Government


The formation of the Janata Government was an exercise in commodative politics. The constituent groups of the Janata Party had agreed it the major partners of the ruling alliance would have two members each in cabinet. The Akalis and allies were also to be represented. Accordingly, a member Council of Ministers was formed.” “The composition of the Janata Government at the centre was a model of government through consultation”


Work of Janata Government

Restoration of Democracy


The first and foremost priority of the Janata Government was dismantling the much-hated Emergency regime. As a first step, on 27 March 1977, hardly four days after assuming office, the external emergency proclaimed  in 1971 was revoked. Then the Government proceeded to undo the harm done to the civil servants during the Emergency.


Economic Policy, Plan and Programmes
Economic Policy

Morarji Desai Government was committed to ‘Gandhian Socialism’  The Janata Government attempted to take a quantum leap from the ‘commanding  height’ industrial progress to decentralized rural development. The new non Congress Prime Minister was determined to set new standards in political  morality and economic welfare. It was with this end in view, the Asoka.Mehtu  Committee was appointed. Instead of industry oriented growth, labour intensive  small scale village industries were encouraged. Similarly, centralized planninp
was replaced by decentralized economy. Agricultural development was  subsidized. Land revenue was reduced. Employment was provided to rural unemployed through ‘Food for Work’ programme. Resources were allocated to improve rural infrastructure such as roads, school buildings, safe drinking water, rural health etc. The Janata economic policy was a timely course correction to  the state-controlled command economy. It was an incredible innovative step in the right direction’.


Janata Rule, 1977-79

The Janata Government wanted to be different from its Congress  decessors. It attempted to introduce the new concept of Rolling Plan. The  plan  pwas put into practice with effect from 1 April 1978. Under this Janata  varation of planning, Five Year Plan will be ontinued to be formulated on five  year basis, but plan targets, resource allocation etc., will be revised every year,  in the light of performance of various sectors. The Rolling Plan was time bound.  But the Rolling Plan could not take off because the Janata Government was  outsed  from power in 1980. “The Janata Govemment wasted a unique opportunity

to build a truly federal and decentralized structure of power and authority,  bolstered by necessary policy correctives to fulfil people’s expectations and  that  them towards a new pattern of development”.

Demonitisation, January 1978

The New Year witnessed the demonitisation of higher value notes. On  January 1978, an ordinance was issued, demonitising the bank notes of  1000, 5,000 and 10,000 issued by the Reserve Bank of India. This measure  s intended to serve the limited purpose of checking illegal transactions. It  pointed out that high denomination notes could be used for smuggling, or ck-marketing or for political purposes. Demonitisation was welcomed by all  political parties and the public as a step in the right direction. It was expected
that this measure will raise the value of money and thereby lower the prices of  commodities.


Alexander Committee

The Janata Government was keen on improving and strengthening foreign trade. It wanted to bring about comprehensive changes in important policies, procedures and programmes. A committee of eminent economic experts and administrators, headed by P.C.Alexander was appointed. Known  as the Alexander Committee, it recommended that 1) all items for which no specific policy had been laid down in the Red Book should be imported under the Open General Licence; 2) a shift from controls to development in the import regime; and 3) the Chief Controller of imports and export is be redesignated as Director General of Foreign Trade. Most of the recommendations were implemented. This led to a new policy of trade liberalization and laid the foundation for a new import-export regime later.


Re-entry of Indira Gandhi: November 1978


Indira Gandhi, the fallen foe, re-emerged in national politics when the contested the by-election in the constituency of Chikmaglur, in Karnatka She filed hernomination papers on 6 October 1978. She fought against Veerendra Patil, former Chief Minister of Kamataka. She had battled against the might of the Janata Party stalwarts, particularly George Fernandes, Union Minister: ‘  Industry and a ‘wounded lion’ who was hell-bent on defeating Indira Gandhi Further, the intellectuals, writers, artists, academics and the press were a  her. Still, she had won the Chikmaglur seat by a margin of 70,000 votes!


Expelled from Parliament,’ December 1978

Indira Gandhi triumphantly returned to Parliament. But she was greeted.  by cries of ‘shame’ and angry shouts from Treasury Benches. In December, the Privileges Committee in Parliament found her guilty; and on 19 December a resolution was passed demanding that she ‘be committed to jail till the prorogation of the House and also expelled from membership of the House for the serious breach and contempt of the House committed by her’ .14 Responding  to this sentence Indira Gandhi retorted: “Every insult hurled at me will rebound,  every punishment inflicted on me will be a source of strength to me”. Then
she walked out of the House. Soon after her expulsion Indira Gandhi  was arrested and taken to Tihar Jail.” On 26 December 1978 she was released  Incarcerating Indira Gandhi resurrected her “from the ashes of Emergency” and made  made her more popular than ever.


Vengence and Vendetta

Kissa Kursi Ka Case, Feb.1979


Kissa Kursi Ka was a film taken during the Emergency. It narrated he
story of the chair- a film against Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi was said to have
destroyed the film. The Janata Government, which foisted more than 35 criminal
cases against Sanjay Gandhi during its two-and-a-half years in power, implicated
him in this case too. On 27 February  1979, Sanjay and V.C.Shukla were sentenced
to two years imprisonment with a hefty fines for destroying the film. Both of  them were released on bail and could appeal against the verdict.”


The Special Courts Bill, May 1979

The Janata Government was keen to passing the Special Courts Bill ill
order to trap Indira Gandhi in legal entanglements for ever. The Bill was passed
by the two Houses of Parliament and President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy gave his to the Special Courts Bill on 17 May 1979. The Special Court summons
first hearing were duly served on Indira Gandhi. She filed an appeal in
Calcutta High Court and got a stay order. The stay order was presented to
Supreme Court next morning so that no further proceedings could take place posed a challenge to Desai.


Fall of the Janata Government
Causes  of the Fall

The Janata Government was formed on 24 March 1977 and it fell on 15 July 1979, when Morarji Desai resigned as Prime Minister. The Government  collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions. When the disillusioned people voted the Janata Party to power, they expected the Janata  leaders to rise above petty jealousies, animosities and bickerings and work as a team in the true Gandhian way. But it belied and betrayed their expectations. After dismantling the Emergency, the Janata Government lost its raison d’etre
of its existence. A number of factors led to its fall.


 A Consensus Leadership

Morarji Desai was not the natural leader of the Janata Party. Jagjivan  m was not preferred for the Prime Ministership because he was a party to the  emergency! In a way a consensus candidate was an imposed candidate. If the  new incumbent had been elected through a secret ballot, the infighting in the  janata Party would have been less vicious. As in the case of Congress choice  of leaders, the consensus approach of the Janata Party proved to the  undemocratic, hypocritical and self-defeating. Till the last day the Janata Party  posed a challenge to Desai.


Party Indiscipline

The Janata Party was a physical combination of incongruous political  components. Each party had its own agenda to pursue and each leader had his  own views to be heard. The Jan Sangh, for instance, was keen on extending its  influence over a wider field, particularly in the field education, where a serious  but unsuccessful attempt was made to ensure withdrawal of the NCERT series  of history text books. The unguarded public statements made by Morarji Desai  not only embarrassed other Janata leaders but also protests form the opposition  besides affecting adversely the image of the party.” Similarly, Charan Singh,
Raj Narayan, Chandra Shekar, Nanaji Deshmukh, Subramaniam Swamy, C.B.Gupta

and Devi Lal were competing with each other in making irresponsible statement
in public. No body seemed to be under anybody’s control or influence. In short
short, the Janata Party was a label of indiscipline. Collective responsibility  conspicuous by its absence.


Discontent Among Constituent Parties

Differences and discontent among the constituents of the Janata Party
persisted throughout the Janata Rule. Deep differences arose between Chili
Singh and other Janata leaders as early as June 1977 when elections were held
for nine State Assemblies. Similarly, there was lot of discontent when the Prime Minister Desai chose the Governors to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. The manner in which BLD and Jan Sangh joined hands to
capture power in the northern states was much resented by other coalition parties. Likewise, there was lot of heart-burning when twenty-four Minister of
State were appointed. The conflict between the supporters of BLD and those!
Jan Sangh was glaring during the by-election to the Lok Sabha from Karnnal
Haryana (1978).


Arrest and Release of Indira Gandhi, October 1977


On 3 October 1977, Indira Gandhi and her four former cabinet colleagues
were arrested by the CBI on charges of corruption and abuse of public office When she was produced before the Magistrate the next morning, she was ordered to be released as the Magistrate found no reason to believe that the accusation against her was well founded. Indira Gandhi made political capital out of this clumsy handling of the case. The news about the fiasco of her an and release spread like wild fire and her popularity soared as the credibility”  the Janata Government slumped. The seeds were sown for the Janata split in 1979.


Atrocities of Harijans

Atrocities of Harijans were nothing new in the north. After the advent
of the Janata rule, every attack on Harijans was attributed to the apathy of the Janata Government. The matter became serious when some in the Janata Party itself, particularly the Congress for Democracy, criticized the Government for not protecting Harijans from the atrocities. When this question was discussed  in March 1978 in the Lok Sabha there were ugly scenes over the remarks of Charan Singh. This led to the resignation of Char an Singh, but he was persuade” to stay on. But the incident exposed the internal contradiction between the Janata Party and the Government.


Corruption’ Charges against Kanti Desai

Corruption charges were leveled against Kanti Desai, son of Prime  Minister Morarji Desai. On August 1978, the Congress (I) brought a resolution   in the Rajya Sabha, where the Janata Party was in a minority, demanding the  setting up of an enquiry into the charges and the resolution was passed by a  majority. This episode had been well used by the opposition and the Janata party  dissidents to embarrass the Prime Minister. This incident left a deep scar  on the  race of the Janata Government which was further discredited.


The Question of Dual Membership

Many Jan Sangh MPs and MLAs had been members of the RSS and  Janata Party as well. The dual membership was justified on the ground that  RSS only a cultural organization and had no political ambitions. But Maddhu  Limaye of the BLD had been consistently questioning the dual membership and  made it a contentious issue, which had considerably weakened the Janata Party.


 Vindictive Action

Harassment and persecution of Indira Gandhi, her implication in Belhi  Harijan massacre (1977); her reconciliation with JP in Patna; her visit to her  home constituency Rae Bareilly; Shah Commission Inquiry; her visit to Vinoba  Ashram at Pannar; her promotional tour over the country, increased her  popularity and resulted in her resounding victory in a by-election for Lok Sabha  held in November 1978 at Chikmagalur constituency in Karnataka. But the  Janata Government, in a streak of vengeance, initiated proceedings to deprive
her newly won Parliamentary seat. On 21 November, a motion of breach of  privilege, based on the Report of the Privileges Committee, which found her guilty,  was tabled in the House. On 19 December, 1978 the Lok Sabha held was put in  Tihar jail. The medieval  star Chamber like vindictive action  was the begining of the end of Janata Government.



Soon after the departure of Morarj i Desai to England and the US’ on 5 June 1978, Raj Narayan questioned the continuance of Chandra Shekar as President of the Janata Party, since his term of office was expired. On 25 June, criticized the Janata Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, in a public meeting at Simla, Desai asked Raj Narayan to resign from the Cabinet. On 28 June 1978, Charan Singh issued a statement blaming the Government’s failure to arrest Indira Gandhi and described the Government as “a pack of impotent people who cannot govern the country”. Desai asked Charan Singh to resign. As
protest, four Ministers of State, belonging to the BLD, submitted the resignations on the same day, which was followed by more resignations. The  days of Janata Government were numbered.


No Confidence Motion, July 1979

On 9 July 1979, the monsoon session of the Parliament commenced. 13
MPs of the Janata Party announced their resignation from the Janata Party in
support of Raj Narayan. Their resignations coincided with the decision of’ the
Congress Party to table a motion of no-confidence against the Desai Ministry
When the debate on the motion was debated on II July, there were 20 more resignations form the Janata Party MPs, mostly from the pro-Chairman Singh followers. On 13 July, Minister H.N .Bahuguna resigned. A couple of days later (15 July) George Fernandes decided to desert the Janata Party and Government On 15 July 1979 Morarji Desai tendered his resignation to the President of lndia After a survival of 2 years, 2 months and 22 days the inglorious Janata Government fell, unwept, unsung and unhonoured.


Prime Minister Charan Singh

After consulting the leaders of political parties, President Neelam
Sanjiva Reddy invited Charan Singh to form the government. On 28 July 1971
Charan Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister with YB.Chavan as the Deput
Prime Minister. The Chavan faction of the Congress (I) and some socialist
were his allies. Charan Singh, an inveterate enemy of Indira Gandhi sought and got her party’s support to his Government from outside! Prime Minister Charan Singh was asked by the President to seek a vote of confidence by the third we”  of August (20 August).


The Congress (I) expected Charan Singh to abolish the Special courts  set up to prosecute Indira Gandhi as a gesture of good will. But he did not oblige. On the eve of the Lok Sabha meeting, Congress (I) withdrew its support to Charan Singh. On 20 August 1979, Charan Singh met the President and asked submitted his resignation. The President accepted his resignation and asked to continue till alternate arrangements were made. Charan Singh’s care-take Government issued a number of ordinances, contrary to parliamentary conventions and the Presidential Communique. The Congress (I) demanded  the withdrawal of these Ordinances. On 22 August 1979, President dissolved  Lok Sabha. The Congress ruled the country for 28 years; the Janata Party  aged to survive for 28 months; but the Charan Singh Government tumbled  down in  23 wasted days.


Janata Foreign Policy, 1977-79
‘Genuine Non-Alignment’

When the first non-Congress Janata Government came to power in
March 1977, a sea-change in foreign policy was expected. The Janata Party
Manifesto proclaimed the policy of ‘genuine non-alignment’. Both the Janata
Prime Minister Morarji Desai and his Foreign Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
carping critics of Nehru’s foreign policy of non-alignment, were expected to
make course correction and restore balance. They were concerned about the
tilt’ towards the Soviet Union. But once in power, they realized the inevitable
Importance of special relations with the USSR, which was a key supplier of
sophisticated military hardware to India and helped Indian economy and industry
big way. In effect, they followed the foot-steps of Nehru, Shastri and Indira Gandhi in implementing the policy of non-alignment.




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.


MISA, Sep.1974

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.


Pro-Indira Demonstrations


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
emergency” .


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.


Pre-Dawn Arrests

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.



Press Censorships

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.


Draconian Measures

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.


Amendment Spree
Amazing Amendments

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.


Emergency Excesses

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.


Total Revolution

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

Indo-US Relations

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.


Indo-Soviet Relations

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


Indo-Sino Relations

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
Indo-Pak Relations

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.


Indo-Bangladesh Relations

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.


Economic Relations

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.


Kachativu Issue

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.


Indo-Nepal Relations

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

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.




In the history of India, this was perhaps as righteous a war

as any fought by her, a war in which right triumphed over wrong.

– Kushwant Singh


Indo-Pak Relations

The mantle of implementing the Tashkent Agreement fell on Prime minister Indira Gandhi. She initiated several steps to normalize relations with Pakistan. On 15 August 1968, she offered to sign a no-war pact with Pakistan. She also proposed the creation of a joint-machinery for going into the outstanding  issues between the two countries. General Yahya Khan succeeded Ayub Khan  on 3 March 1969. The march of events in 1970 overshadowed the significant  steps taken by her to normalize relations between the two neighbours.


Events and Circumstances Leading to War

Geographical Aberration

The creation of Pakistan, a nation in two separate parts – West Pakistan  and East Pakistan – separated by 1,200 miles of Himalayan peaks and Indian territories was “a geographical aberration”.’ Since 1947, West Pakistan had subjected and dominated East Pakistan, politically and economically. Though West Pakistan geographically bigger in size, East Pakistan had larger population. Yet the latter was treated as a colony by the former, The West developed at the cost of the East.’ The geographical anachronism, deliberate discrimination and wauton neglect carried seeds of seccesion.


Birth of Awami League

When India was partitioned in 1947, the basis for separation was religion.  But the common religion, Islam, could not cement the Urdu speaking West  Pakistan with the Bengali speaking East Pakistan. In 1949, Pakistan adopted Urdu as the national language and the people of East Pakistan resisted the  move without success. The result was the birth of Awami League. In 1956, the  League demanded due share in the political and economic life of Pakistan. Next  Year, the East Pakistan Assembly adopted a resolution demanding autonomy.  Thirteen years of military rule kindled in East Pakistan a desire and demand for


Military Regime in Pak, 1969

In 1969, Field Marshall Ayub Khan was ousted from power, thanks to  Bhutto agitations. A military coup led by General Yahya Khan resulted in  military dictatorship in Pakistan. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples’ Party  led the opposition and demanded establishment of democracy in West Pakistan. Such a demand gained momentum. Simultaneously, Sheikh Mujibur Behman launched a campaign for democracy with autonomy in East Pakistan. India’s general support for these democratic movements was interpreted as interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Mujibur Rehman was accused of being an agent of the Government of India. He was implicated in the Agarthala conspiracy case.


Pak Elections, 1970

Sandwiched between the democratic demand of Bhutto in West Pakistan and autonomy agitation by Mujibur Rehman in East Pakistan, General Yahya  Khan announced general elections in Pakistan on 5 October 1970. India welcomed  the announcement. When Chittagong was worst hit by cyclones in November  1970, India offered air-force relief to East Pakistan. But the Yahya military  regime spurned India’s humanitarian offer and postponed the elections to 7 December to the disappointment of the East Pakistanis. Eventually elections were held as announced in December 1970. Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League won a landslide victory in both the Provincial Assembly and in the National
Assembly of Pakistan.


Indian Plane Hijacked, Jan.1971

Soon after the elections, protracted negations were held in Dhaka among
General Yahya Khan, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to finalise
the future political arrangements. As negotiations were in progress, an Indian
Airlines aircraft was hijacked to Lahore and destroyed by Pak agents and Kashmiri
militants (Jan.1971). In retaliation, India suspended over flights of all Pakistan
aircrafts – both civilian and military – from 3 January 1971. Tension between the
two countries escalated.


Liberation Movement in East Pakistan, March, 1971

Following the breakdown of the tripartite negotiations, Mujibui  Rehman’s Awami League launched a massive mass civil disobedience movement  on 8 March 1971 in East Pakistan. The peaceful protest was ruthlessly repressed. The army was let loose on the unarmed people. The Marital Law Administrator of East Pakistan suppressed the popular uprising by imposing curfew and use  of force. On 15 March Mujibur Rehman declared independence of Bangladesh.  He  was promptly arrested in the midnight of 21-22 March and flown to West  Pakistan. However, his senior colleagues managed to escape, went underground,
and constituted the Provincial Government of Bangladesh on 28 March 1971.


Reign of Terror

A reign of terror was let loose in East Pakistan. The Pak military oppression of its own citizens in East Pakistan continued unabated. Villages were destroyed, crops burnt and innocent people were killed. The indiscriminate laughter degenerated to genocide. The army indulged in barbaric brutalities.


Armed Struggle

As military crackdown escalated the peaceful protest turned to armed struggle. The Youth wing of the Awami League spear-headed the armed Insurrection. The situation became volatile when Mujibur Rehman was given death sentence in a trial for high treason, though the sentence was not executed. The freedom fighters constituted themselves into a guerrilla liberation army and fought against the Pakistan armed forces. Bengali defectors from the Pak army joined hands with the youth wing of the Awami League. The secessionist
movement spread like wild fire. There was civil war in East Pakistan.


India’s Support, April 1971


India was supportive of the struggle for democracy in Pakistan. When the  birth of the Republic was announced on 17 April 1971 by the Awami League Government in exile, India welcomed it. General President Yahya Khan gave a  call to his people to be prepared for a war against India. For the next eight months, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi followed a for-pronged strategy to meet the situation: 1) to give sanctuary to the Bangladesh Government in exile; 2) to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical aid to refugees; 3) to
keep the army in red alert to meet any eventuality; and 4) to complete the
military operation, if necessary, before the big powers intervene.”


Indo-Soviet Treaty, Aug.1971

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi established contacts with all major powers of the world, visited the USSR, USA and Germany to persuade these countries to pressurize Pakistan to stop massacre of East Pakistanis and restore normalcy. When the Western response was negative, Indira Gandhi signed the lndo- Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation on 7 August 1971. The Treaty, in essence, provided for defence co-operation and mutual defence assistance in case either party being subjected to threats to their territorial security. “It was one of the best kept secrets in Indo-Soviet relations”.


U.N. Resolution, October 1971

The US President, Richard Nixon, supported the Pak regime. The US  Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, visited India, met Indira Gandhi and  dissuaded her from supporting the secession struggle. But she refused to  budge as she considered the US attitude “normally justifiable and politically unacceptable”. Indo-Soviet Treaty added fuel to fire. The US and its European supporters, therefore, brought before the UN General Assembly a resolution on the East Pakistan crisis. The Assembly in October 1971 voted against the
liberation struggle and against India. Stung by the unsupportive stance of the
West, Indira Gandhi supported the struggle with redoubled resolve, courage
and determination.


Influx of Refugees

The refugee factor loomed large and was real. In order to escape from  the ‘reign of terror’ millions of refugees crossed the border and poured into  India. All of them were accommodated on the border districts of Assam,  Meghalaya, Bihar, Bengal and Tripura. They were provided with food, clothing,  shelter and medical aid.’ The refugees had been housed and fed by India for nearly a year.


The War

On 3 December 1971, General Yahya Khan ordered a preemptive strike on Indian Air Force bases in Indian Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir. Eight military air fields in Western India were attacked. Next day Pakistan notified that she was in a state of war with India. Indian army led by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Manekshaw launched counter-attack on Pakistani air fields. “The liberation struggle of East Pakistan freedom fighters metamorphosed into a full-scale war between India and Pakistan”.


Emergency was declared in India. Indian army swung into action in  East Pakistan. Ably led by Lt.General J.S.Aurora, the army joined by Mukti Bahini, pushed through East Bengal, reached the capital Dacca and surrounded the Pakistani garrison. On the Western Front, the Pakistani army attempt to cross across Kashmir was frustrated. The US tried to avert the defeat of Pak forces through the UN Security Council resolutions, but they were vetoed by the Soviet Union. China did not intervene as expected by Pakistan. Western
powers stopped short of diplomatic support to Pakistan. On 9 December US President Nixon ordered the US 7th Fleet into the Bay of Bengal, led by the air craft carrier Enterprise, under the pretext of evacuating American and European citizens from East Pakistan! Indira Gandhi resolutely stood her stand. On her request, Soviet Union dispatched its fleet from Vladivostok to the Bay of Bengal.


On 13 November, General Maneckshaw issued an ultimatum to his  Pakistani counterpart. On 16 December, the Pak Army was in East Pakistan. Lt.General Aurora, sorrounded Dacca and defeated the Pak army. About 93 thousand pak troops were then brought to India as Prisoners of War (POWs).  Dacca surrendered on 17 December. India declared unilateral cease fire in the  Western Sector. Pakistan agreed to the cease fire and released unconditionally  Mujibur Rehman on 8 January 1972. Four days later, Mujibur Rehman assumed power in Bangladesh. Indira Gandhi with humility heartily thanked the defence  forces for diligently discharging their duty, pledged the nation’s help to the  people of Bangladesh, and extended a hand of friendship to the neighbour Pakistan.


Impact of the War

The war of 1971 produced far-reaching impact in the South Asian
subcontinent, India and Pakistan: 1) The war radically altered the sub-continental
structure. In the place of two countries, there emerged three independent
sovereign states – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 2) The war was a personal
triumph for Indira Gandhi. Gender barrier was broken and she was hailed as
heroine, Durga, Shakti, Liberator of Bangaladesh, and Empress of lndia! 3) The
war wiped out the sad memory of 1962 defeat in the India-China war and restored
India’s self-respect and pride. 4) The war had an indelible impact on India’s
Muslim minority. “For the first time since 1947, there was virtually no sympathy
for Pakistan”. 5) It delivered a death-blow to the Two-Nation theory and the
underlying principle of religion as the basic factor of a nation. 6) It demonstrated
the inherent strength of Indian secularism. 7) The war had strengthened India
to assert its independence in international relations. 8) It also imposed a heavy
burden on the Indian economy. 9) A new-state Bangladesh – had been created
as the result of a popular mandate. 10) Pakistan came under a civilian rule under
Z.A.Bhuto after a lapse of nearly fourteen years. II) The refugee problem was smoothly solved, all the ten million refugees were sent back home. 12) As a fall- out of the out of the war, the Congress won a majority in all the states in the elections held  in March 1972.


Simla Agreement, 1972

Indo-Pak Talks

The Indo-Pak war ended but peace had to be restored. Pakistan  not reconciled to the humiliating defeat it suffered in the war. It was yet to accord recognition to Bangladesh. The problem of Prisoners of War (POWs)  remained to be solved. On 31 December 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi  called for negotiations with Pakistan. In January 1972, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan Z.A.Bhutto expressed his willingness for talks with his Indian counterpart. The emissary level talks were held in April 1972 at Mushri. Theil
the Simla Summit was held at the hill station of Simla from 28 June to 3 July 1972.


The Issues

From the beginning of the Simla Summt, Indira Gandhi was keen on finding a solution to the seemingly irresolvable Kashmir problem. She insisted on a full settlement of all problems between India and Pakistan. But “President Butto was equally insistent that the Kashmir issue be kept out of the final settlement”. Several draft treaty proposals were prepared calling for bilateralism the exclusion of third parties, the renunciation of force, the conversion of the Kashmir cease fire line into an international boundary and the resolution of the  Kashmir issue. “In retum Bhutto and his party amended or flatly rejected each
proposed draft treaty that the Indian delegation presented to them”. Affect five days of hiccups, wranglings and mutual concessions, on 3 July 1972, Bhuttu and Indira Gandhi signed the historic Simla Agreement.


The Agreement

The crucial clauses of the Simla Agreement are: I) India had agreed to return return 5,000 square miles of occupied Pakistani territory, sans some strategic  points in Kashmir, mainly in the Kargil sector. 2) India had also agreed to return  the 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War with the approval of the Bangladesh  government. 3) India and Pakistan would restrain in future from use of force. All outstanding issues between the two countries would be resolved bilaterally 5) Indian and Pakistani forces shall be withdrawn to their respective sides of the international border, and 6) In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control result in  from the cease fire date of 17 December 1971, shall be respected by both side Mutual recognition of the Line of Control (LOC) was a major breakthrough.


Pros and Cons

The Simla Agreement was praised as well as blamed. It was praised  because 1) It proposed for peaceful settlement of all Indo-Pak issues and disputes  through bilateral negotiations. 2) The repudiation of the use of force for  settlement of disputes amounted to a no war pact. 3) The provision for troops  withdrawal and exchange of territories won in war was designed to secure  military disengagement on the borders. 4) The agreement over the line of actual

control and ceasefire rendered the presence of U.N. Observers in Kashmir  redundant. 5) The clause for ratification of the Agreement by both sides gave  legal base, and 6) The Simla

Agreement was made without any outside help.


The Agreement was blamed because I) It failed to resolve the immediate repatriation of the Prisoners of War (POws). 2) It mentioned Kashmir but failed to find a final settlement of Kashmir issue. 3) It had nor clinched a direct no war pact. 4) It had not made any provision for a joint machinery for effectively handling the Indo-Pak relations. 5) The Agreement was at best a piecemeal hotch-potch arrangement for it failed to secure a package deal to solve pending issues  and 6) It envisaged no guarantee that Pakistan would reduce its military
expenditure. However, it must be pointed out that the Simla Agreement provided
basis for all subsequent talks, dialogues and negotiations between India and  Pakistan. In this sense, the year 1972 may be called a Year of Triumph.


Greatest Leader

After the Indo-Pak war of 1971, Indira Gandhi’s position seemed unassailable. Her war victory won the admiration of all. She was the undisputed leader of her party, government and the nation. Congress was solidly behind the Government was stable with a two thirds majority in the Lok Shaba and country hailed her as its heroine. She was at the pinnacle of power and eulogized  as “The greatest leader India had ever had”.




A woman ruler is under a social handicap until she has  been able to consolidate her position.

                                                                                    – Economic and Political Weekly

First Women Prime Minister

After the demise of Lal Bahadur Shastri, on 10 January  1966,  the search for his successor started and there were seven contenders for the  post of India’s third Prime Minister – Desai, Indira, Nanda, Chavan, S.K.Patil, Sanjiva Reddy and Kamaraj. Kamaraj, for reasons better known to himself, withdrew from the contest. This time Desai insisted on a secret ballot. Finally, there was straight contest between Desai and Indira Gandhi. On 19 January, secret ballot was held in the meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party in which Indira Gandhi secured 355 votes as against 169 for Desai.

The Congress President K.Kamaraj played a very important role in clearing the way for Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, to succeed Shastri. Kamaraj, in his own characteristic way, justified his support to her: First, Indira knew all the world leaders; Second, she had traveled widely with her father; Third, she was grown up with almost all the  react men of the freedom movement; Fourth, she had a rational and modern mind;  totally free of parochialism, and finally, In 1967, she could win the election. Besides, she had the experience of working as a member of the Congress Working Committee (1955), the highest policy making body of the party; elected President of the Congress Party (1959) an elected member of the CWC as well as a member  of’ the Central Election Committee, which selected candidates for the 1962  election. Then she joined Shastri’s Cabinet as Minister of Information and  Broadcasting. Though Indira Gandhi inherited the name and mantle from her father Nehru, she on her own right, was eminently qualified to become the first woman prime minister of India. On 24 January 1966, the 49 year old Indira  Gandhi was sworn in as the third Prime Minister by the President Dr.S.Radhakrishnan.


Cabinet under Indira Gandhi


Indira Gandhi was the choice of the Syndicate. K.Kamaraj, therefore, insisted that she retained most ministers of Shastri’s Cabinet. She wanted to drop the Home Minister, Gulzarilal Nanda, but she was constrained to retain him in her Cabinet. However, Indira Gandhi had her way in inducting Asoka Mehta  (new Minister of Planning); G.S.Pathak (Minister of Law); Fakrudin Ali Ahmed  (Minister of Irrigation and Power); and Jagjiwan Ram (Minister of Labour), Morarji Desai was not invited to join her Cabinet! Soon she became the primus  inter pares, with a mind and will of her own.


Indira Gandhi’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ was the expanded version of the  ‘Back-benchers Club’, formed during the Shastri years.’ Her Kitchen Cabinet, a wheel within the wheel, comprised

of Dinesh Singh, I.K.Gujral, Nandini Satpati, Uma Shankar Dikshit, D.P.Mishra, C.Subramaniam, Asoka Mehta and Fakruddin Ali Ahmed. This ‘nucleus of power’ assisted and advised the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in crucial decision making. They “urged a leftist ideological view on her”. She also relied heavily on the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), particularly on the services of her Principal Secretary L.K.Jhan and later P.N.Haksar. The PMO “reached dizzy heights of power”.


1966: The year of Turmoil

Unrest in North-East


Within a couple of months after assuming office of Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, encountered a threat to national unity. There was unrest in the  North-East. The Nagas were threatening cessation from the Indian Union;  there were periodic terrorist attacks, insurgency and guerrilla activity of Nag a  rebels, “trained in China, Pakistan and Burma”.” In Mizoram, the Mizo National  Front (MNF), headed by Laldenga declared independence from India (March  1966). The Mizo insurrection was crushed. In 1973, the Mizo district of Assam  was separated and given the status of a Union Territory.” In Jharkhand, the  Santhalleader Shibu Soren formed the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) (1972),  revived the demand for separate Jharkhand and growing as a radical militant  movement. By nipping the insurrections in the bud Indira Gandhi proved that  she was capable of taking tough decisions.


Demand for Punjabi Suba

There had been demand for the creation of a separate Punjabi Suba by the  Akalis for a pretty long time. Nehru refused to concede the demand and left the’ problem unresolved. Shastri had taken the first bold step in this regard. Indira Gandhi faced the problem as soon as she assumed power. The Dar committee in its report dated 18 March 1966, recommended the creation of Punjabi Suba. The Boundary Commission Report dated 31 May 1966 favoured the inclusion of Chandigarh in Punjab


On 9 June 1966, the Government of India, after carefully considering  the recommendation of the Dar Commission decided to 1) Make Chandigarh the Union Territory, 2) Chandigarh to be the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana  and 3) Punjabi Suba and Haryana to be formed as separate states. Punjabi Sustained its old name Punjab. While the Siks were happy, the Hindi-speaking people revolted and there were riots. The creation of these states carried the  seeds of future troubles.


The Food Crisis, 1966

Insurrection in North-East, demand for Punjabi Suba, and agitations  part, the country was reeling and languishing under severe food crisis.  Devastating droughts stalked the land. There were food shortages and famine  conditions in several parts of the country. Inflation was on the rise and prices  of commodities were spiraling. The economy was in recession. There was a  shortage of foreign exchange. The cumulative effect of these frightening factors  was the general popular unrest as was reflected in the rice riots in Kerala. The  situation was gloomy and grim.


Indira Gandhi had to face the wrath of the AICC at Jaipur and was  criticized in the Parliament. She, in late March 1966, turned to the U.S. for  soccur. She visited the U.S. on a mission to get both food and foreign exchange  without appearing to ask for them.” President Lyndon Johnson promised three  million tons of food and nine million dollars in aid. At home the system of  procurement and distribution system were improved. The food crisis was tackled  for the time being. The Prime Minister’s U.S. visit was hailed as a spectacular  success and was a major achievement for Indian democracy.”


Devaluation of  Rupee, June 1966


The economy of the country had reached the rock bottom. A conspiracy  of circumstances, aggravated by war and drought, had brought the economic  growth to a grinding halt. There was scarcity staring straight on the face of  India. There was forex crisis and industrial capacity was rendered idle, resulting in retrenchment. Exports had come to a halt. Small industry was hit hard. In short, the economy was in the brink of disaster. Since rust-aid measures proved  ineffective, Indira Gandhi decided to administer stronger medicine in order  to restore the nation to economic health”.


But there were difficulties. The US stipulated conditions to restore economic aid suspended during Indo-Pak war in 1965. The World Bank and the  International Monetary Fund (IMF) stipulated that the rupee be devalued. Indira Gandhi appointed a committee to consider the issue.” The committee supported  devaluation. On the night of 6 June 1966, Indira Gandhi announced on AIR the devaluation of the rupee by a hefty 57.5%. The decision to devalue the rupee  made her unpopular. She was criticized right and left. The CWC passed a
resolution denouncing the decision. The Congress President Kamaraj was  furious that he was not consulted and lamented over making her the Prim Minister. A great man’s daughter, a little man’s great blunder”. Nevertheless  Indira Gandhi proved that she was capable of taking unpopular decision.


Other Agitations

Monsoon failed again for the second consecutive year. The drought
continued unabated. The promised U.S. economic aid was slow to come and
when it came, food shipments were irregular. Drought coupled with devaluation
ignited the volatile situation. There was a spate of agitations, demonstrations
and strikes. Government servants, middle class professionals, teachers,
students, farmers and others participated in these outbursts. Often the agitations
turned violent, resulting in lathi charges and firings, damages and death. These
popular agitations climaxed in 7 November 1966, when a trident – bearing mob
of naked sadhus staged a demonstration in front of Parliament calling for an end
of cow-slaughter. The anti-cow-slaughter demonstration degenerated into
looting, arson and violence. Six sadhus were killed in police firing. The
demonstration brought forth nothing except confounding confusion.


Fourth General Elections 1967

1966 was the year of turmoil, and 1967 may be called the year of elections – general elections and the election of the President of India. India’s fourth  general elections were held when the combined effects of the India-China war  1962, the Indo-Pak War 1965, the successive droughts of 1966 and 1967 and the  extremely bad economic situation had aroused popular discontent against the  congress party. Surrounded by opposition hostility and adversity Indira Gandhi decided to directly appeal to the directly appeal to the electorate. She chose Rae Bareilly, her husband  Feroz Gandhi’s constituency, instead of Phulpur, her father Nerhu’s constituency,  to test  her strength. At 50, she stood for Parliament for the first time in the  election  held at the twentieth anniversary of Indian independence.


Rift in the Congress

The Congress Party was deeply divided by groupism and factionalism.  The  dissident groups had been the. bane of Congress. The Syndicate had  become the sanctuary of the senile leaders. The young were longing for  leadership. The single point agenda of the divided opposition was to some  how  defeat the Congress. Neither Indira Gandhi nor the opposition leaders  raised ideological or basic socio-economic issues, the election being ‘a means  of political survival’. She presented populist solutions to India’s pestering  problems in all her campaigns.


Election results


India’s fourth general election was held in February 1967. Indira Gandhi   by a   comfortable majority but the syndicate stalwarts like Kamaraj, S.K.Patil  tulya Ghosh and C. Subramaniam were defeated. Morarji Desai, “Indira’s  mesis’ had been returned. The Congress secured 284 out of 520 seats, though  majority was reduced from 228 in 1962 to 48. The Congress also lost its  majority in eight states – Kerala, Madras, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Utter Adesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. At the national level the CPI and CPI(M), the, wantantra Party and the Jan Sangh had improved their position. In the states, he parties – national and regional- entered into incompatible alliance. “The
lection of 1967 forms a watershed in India because the voters for the first time  wed concern for governmental performance” .In a way, the elections were  bad result for the Congress, but a good one for Indira Gandhi” . Derisively  referred to as ‘this girl’, ‘dumb doll’, ‘this mere chokri’, ‘this little woman’, Indira Gandhi came to be called ‘Mother Indira’ since this election. The majority in the party was behind her.


Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister


On 15 March 1967, Indira Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister
for a second time. Now her position in the party and the government was much
stronger as the Syndicate was truncated in size and status. Her freedom to
hose her Cabinet was curtailed since she had to accommodate Moraji Desai as
the Deputy Prime Minister with Finance Portfolio, thanks to the wafer thin majority in the Parliament. However, she made it clear that the Deputy PM did
not imply ‘any duality of authority’. She dispensed with the system of rank III
cabinet ministers, instead they were alphabetically ordered “rendering cabin
positions meaningless as indicators of future power line-ups”

Election of Zakir Hussain


After Indira Gandhi was reappointed as Prime Minister she was self assertive. When the Syndicate wanted the President Dr.S.Radhakrishnan to continue in office for the second time, the Prime Minister preferred the vie President Zakir Hussain for the post. The opposition put up Justice Subba RUII  Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who had resigned his post shortly before nomination day, as its candidate. Supported by Indira Gandhi, Zakir Hussam  won with comfortable majority. Y.Y.Giri, a south Indian trade union leader, was elected Vice-President. Their victory strengthened the hands of Indira Gandhi

weakened the Syndicate and sabotaged the opposition unity. Zakir Hussain  was the first Muslim President of the Indian Republic.


Election of Party President


In the elections for the party presidency, Indira Gandhi was not favouring Kamaraj continuing in the post but the Syndicate got its candidate Nijalingappa elected to the post. Indira Gandhi was offended. When the ‘Young  Turks” within the party accused Desai of conniving in the corruption of his son Kantibai, she did not defend her Finance Minister in Parliament. She ignored  the directive of the CWC to rebuke the Young Turks either. The gulf between  the Old Guard and Indira Gandhi widened.


Election of V.V.Giri

On 3 May 1969, President Zakir Hussain died of cardiac failure. Indira  Gandhi suggested Jagjivan Ram for the post, but the Congress President Nijalingappa, supported by the Syndicate, proposed Neelam Sanjeeya Reddy, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, as the official candidate. Indira Gandhi signed Reddy’ nomination papers, but she allowed her supporters to vote according to the conscience! She tacitly extended support to V.V. Giri – unofficial candidate On 20 August 1969, Y. Y.Giri was elected President of India. The conscience

vote’ was a superb tractical maneuver.


Bank Nationalisation 20 July 1969

From the beginning of 1968, the Syndicate, still headed by Kamaraj, strongly supported by the new Congress President Nijalingapa and the desperate Desai “wanted to oust Indira”.” Her opponents in one voice unequivocally condemned the dismissal of non-Congress governments and the imposition of President’s rule in West Bengal, Utter Pradesh, Bihar and the Punjab, following example of Kerala in 1959. Influenced by the ‘kitchen cabinet’ and egged on the Young Turks, Indira Gandhi had taken a leftist ideological line.


In July 1967 in pursuance of Indira Gandhi’s leftist stance her statement  the ‘stray thoughts’ on economic policy was read out at the meeting of the  AICC. These thoughts were based on her 10 point programme formulated in 1967, which included social control of banking, a check on monopolies, nationalization of general insurance, curbs on property, rapid implementation land reforms, state control of food grains and exports, provision of house – to the rural poor, and the abolition of the former privileges and privy  purses. On 16 July she relieved Desai of the finance portfolio since he was opposed to bank nationalization. Four days later, fourteen commercial banks’. Nationalized by presidential ordinance. Bank nationalization was a bold, deft and shrewd political move. It was ,lily greeted by public euphorea. The farmers, traders, small businessmen,
low paid government and other employees, taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers, the
unemployed and others welcomed the radical measure. The CPP endorsed the
progressive programme. But the Government decision was criticized as “a political move designed to isolate, out flank, and defeat her inner party opponents”.” By nationalizing the private banks “the Government controlled monopolizable savings and assisted the capitalist class to diversify their investments and products”.” Bank nationalization was “a populist move … clearly motivated by her drive for self-preservation as Prime Minister”. “Never had the people applauded any economic step as much as they did this one”.”


The ‘Great Split’ of Congress, 1969

Rival Groups

The year 1969 was the year of the Great Divide in the Congress. The nearly a century old Congress suffered a serious and .irreparable split in 1969. The ‘unity’ talks between the Syndicate and the ‘Indicate’ – the followers of Indira Gandhi – failed. On 1 November 1969, two separate CWC meetings were convened by the respective rival groups, one at the AICC head quarters at Jantar Mandar Road and the other at Indira Gandhi’s residence at 1 Sabdarjang Road. The parallel meetings were represented by those who stood for status quo and conformism and those who were for radical socialism and change – a conflict between two diametrically opposite mind-sets.


The Split


On 12 November 1969, the Syndicate found Indira Gandhi guilty of I)  creating a ‘personality cult’. 2) indiscipline and defiance of party leadership  and 3) her intention of selling India to the Soviet Union and expelled her from  the party (13 Nov). The infuriated Indira blamed the ‘undemocratic and fascist  persons’ for the fiasco. A total of297 MPs, of whom 220 from the Lok Sabhn,  supported Indira Gandhi. Besides 446 out of705 members of the AICC were  solidly with her. The Congress Party was split. Thereafter, Indira Congres
came to be called Congress (R) – for Requisitionist and the Syndicate cabal as  Congress (0) for Organization.” The split “has launched a new unprincipled  era in Indian politics”.” The eighty year old Congress tottered and faltered.


The Impact

As a result of the split I) Indira Gandhi lost her majority in both houses
of Parliament. 2) She had become a Prime Minister in her own right. 3) transformed
the Congress party into a radical organization. 4) heralded the triumph of the  Parliamentary over the organizational wing of the party. 5) emboldened her to
extend her control to the states beyond New Delhi, and 6) the party “degenerated
into an unaudited company for winning elections”.


Abolition of Privy Purses, 1970


The year 1970 witnessed dramatic developments. After the nationalization of banks, Indira Gandhi introduced a strong dose of radical reforms. The most dramatic and highly controversial of them was the abolition of the purses and privileges of the former princes. Their purses, pensions and  privileges were guaranteed by the Constitution. Indira Gandhi sought to derecognize the princes through a constitutional amendment. In August 1970.
the Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha by 339 to 154 votes, but it was
defeated in the Rajya Sabha by one vote. Undeterred Indira Gandhi proceeded  to abolish the privily purses of the princes through a presidential proclamation  (6 September 1969). In December 1970, however, the Supreme Court invalidated  both the ordinances and the bank nationalization law.” However, Indira Gandhi’s sweeping popular programmes of radical social change excited a mass response and public acclaim, though the rival Congress (O) and the Jan Sangh joined together to oppose the move.


Fourth Plan Performance, 1966-1971

The Indo-Pak War (1965), two successive years of drought (1965-66 and 1966-67), devaluation of currency (1966), rise in prices of essential commodities, and erosion of resources available for plan implementation derailed the fourth plan. Instead, three annual plans were formulated within the frame work of the draft outline of the fourth plan in between 1966-69. Efforts were made to restore normalcy in the economy. Emphasis was laid on High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP), minor irrigation projects, better seeds etc. Focus was on farm sector. Industrial capacity was better utilized. Consumer goods industries received better attention. As a result, the supply position with regard food grains and other non-agricultural commodities improved. Prices declined.
The national economy was stable.


The 1971 Elections

Dissolution of Lok Sabha

Though Indira Gandhi wielded “far greater power over both party and  Government than had been enjoyed by Jawaharlal Nehru”, her party was in a  minority in Parliament depending on the outside support of the CPI, CPI(M), the  DMK, Akali Dal, fewSocialists and some independents. The way out of this  anomaly was to call for a mid term poll. So, on 27 December 1970, Indira Gandhi  dissolved the Lok Sabha and called for elections in February 1971, a year in  advance. She sought a fresh mandate from the people for her progressive  programmes. The Supreme Court judgements on the bank nationalization case
well as the abolition of Privy Purses were said to be the reasons responsible  for the mid-term elections.


‘A Referendum’

Indira Gandhi made the most of the 1.91.1 election. Throughout January and February she campaigned with conviction and courage. Unlike the previous elections, she had no strong party organization, nor had the support of stalwart colleagues. Since the early mid-term poll separated the parliamentary from the state assembly elections, the focus was on the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government’s performance. In other words, the election would be a referendum on herself and her performance ”Never had attention been so focused on one individual candidate”.”


Garibi Hatao Rhetoric

Virtually, the election was between Indira Gandhi and the so-called Irand Alliance, consisting of Congress (0) Jan Sangh, Swatantra and the Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP). The grand alliance targeted Indira Gandhi. It’s Ingle point election agenda was to defeat her at the hustings. It was a  personalized campaign. ‘Indira Hatao’ (Remove Indira) was the slogan of the Grand Alliance. As a counter attack, Indira Gandhi came out with a more catch’ blistering slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ (remove poverty). Indira Gandhi’s popular
rhetoric clicked well with the people. The new slogan reverberated throughout
the country. During the eight weeks campaign, she shrewdly avoided personal
attacks on the opposition and highlighted national issues .. In effect, Indira
Gandhi successfully converted the election campaign into a people’s movement
Her carefully calibrated campaigns attracted the peasants, workers, women
middle classes and the youth as never before.


The Mandate

The election results were on expected lines. Indira Gandhi’s party won 352 out of a total of518 Lok Sabhaseats. The rival Congress (0) was humiliated with a paltry 16 seats. The Swatantra was reduced from 44 to just 8 and the Jam Sangh from 35 to 22 seats. The grand alliance suffered a demeaning defeat Among the opposition parties CPI (M), CPI and DMK fared well. The election was a personal triumph for Indira Gandhi.


The 1971 election restored the Congress party to its dominant position
in Indian politics, conferred the mandate she sought, endorsed the radical agenda
for change and stability, proved that people would rally round national issues
and dashed the hopes of the status – quoists and raised the expectations of th
poor. But the Bangladesh war shifted the attention of the nation from Gariht
Hatao to Simla Summit in 1972.


Shastri Government 1964- 1966

Shastri Government 1964- 1966

I am not as simple as I look

Lal Bahadur Shastri


After the death of Nehru, Shastri succeeded as Prime Minister of India on June 2 , 1964.  Shastri retained the members of the previous Nehru cabinet and included two new ministers. Indira Gandhi was offered the office of foreign minister, but she chose to join as Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

Shastri, was instrumental in strengthening the PMO – Prime Minister’s Office. During , Shastri’s time, the economic situation had worsened and Congress lost ground both at the Central and State levels. Shastri, therefore organised PM’s Secretariat and rationalised the workers of Prime Minister’s Office. L.K. Jha, a senior member of former ICS was chosen by Shastri as his Secretary and he made PMO’s office as all powerful and a professional body that advised PM, without interfering with the Cabinet Secretariat or other ministers and departments of Government.

Food Crisis

The first major task of Shastri Government was food crisis in 1964. Due to shortage of food grains, the food prices had risen by 22% in the last 18 months, which was as much rise in the preceding ten years. Shastri formulated an All India Food Policy and he then initiated a series of short term and long term measures such as , first, food ships destined to go to other ports were arranged to come to India. Second, the import of food grains was increased, third, fair price shops were strengthened, fourth, Agricultural Price Commission was constituted to keep the price situation under constant review , fifth, Food Grains Trading Corporation was set up to purchase internal agricultural produce at remunerative prices. Thus, a firm foundation was laid for Green Revolution in India.

Anti-Hindi Agitation, 1965

During India’s freedom struggle, national leaders carried on the movement through the medium of regional languages and thus it was natural that the affinity towards regional languages was there. Thus, the demand to replace English with regional language arose. After Independence, the Constituent Assembly debated this issue and then decided on the compromise formula of having both English and Hindi as official language. Then, Official language Commission , headed by B.G. Kher ( 1955) recommended the process of replacement within constitutional time-frame. But the Hindi champions in Congress party like P. Tandon and Seth Govinda Das wanted Hindi to replace English. Socialist Part and Jan Sangh launched a pro-Hindi movement.  In 1959, Nehru came up with assurance that English would continue as official language and passed Official Languages Act, 1963 to enact the same.

On 26th January 1965, the prescribed time period of 15 years to make Hindi the official language replacing English as provided in the constitution came to an end.  Then Home Minister, Nanda, persuaded himself that under Shastri Government, it could be easier to implement this.

But, there was a strong agitation from Dravida Munnetra Khazhalgam (DMK) party  in Tamil Nadu and started anti-Hindi agitation under leadership of Annadurai. There were demonstrations, processions, meetings and burning of effigies of demon of Hindi. Madras city was in chaos and became very explosive.

Shastri Government appealed for peace and held negotiations to continue English as official language. But, on 15th Feb, 35 agitators were killed and several injured. The resignation of two central ministers – C. Subramaniam and O.V.Alagesan made the matter worse for Central Government. Finally, in June 1965, Union Government agreed to give legislative sanction to continue English for administrative purposes.

Indo-Pak War,1965

Kashmir remained a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. This lead to Indo-Pak war in 1965. Pakistan formulated a three pronged strategy, first, to create tension along the Indian borders, second, to instigate Kashmiris to rise against India, third, to provoke India into war.

In April , 1965, two division of Pak army crossed the border and occupied parts of Rann of Kutch. During this intrusion Pakistan had deployed US military Patton tanks. War prolonged and a another attack in Kashmir was started in Sep. Pakistan was able to capture Akhnoor and Chicken Necks and cut off Indian access to Jammu. Shastri Government responded to this provocation and  fought back. A second front was opened and Indian army reached  a striking distance of Lahore. India gained 750 sq miles of Pakistan territory. In Sep, 1965, Chinese Chairman Mao- Tse-Tng issued an ultimatum to stop war and removal alleged Indian defence installations on Chinese side of Sikkim border.

Cease-fire was agreed between both sides as UN and west countries intervened to stop war. On 20, Sep, 1965, UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for cease-fire


The slogan was given to India by Lal Bahadur Shastri in the year 1965. It means Hail the soldier and Hail the farmer. The slogan was given to energise the soldiers to defend India during Indo Pak War and cheer up the farmers to try their best to increase production of food grains and thus reduce the dependence on imports.

Slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” that motivated the two pillars of the nation-soldiers and farmers was coined by Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. It means hail the soldier and hail the farmer.


The slogan was given during the 22-day Indo-Pak war of 1965, where L B Shastri led India to victory.  At the same time there was scarcity of food-grains in country. This slogan was given to enthuse the soldiers defending India and motivate farmers to do their best. The farmers were motivated to increase the production of food grains so that dependency on the imports can be reduced. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri accorded high importance to agriculturists by equating them with defense personnel, through the slogan as ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’.

Our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, immediately after independence laid highest importance to agriculture by stating “Everything can wait but not agriculture”.


Shastri’s policy of jai jawan jai kisan committed to the nation that India will not go hungry and India will not back down, militarily. The nation’s sovereignty cannot be realized in its true sense without having self sufficiency in food and a strong defense. The basic problem of mankind is food insecurity. Shastriji took the responsibility to end hunger and food insecurity and to make food available to people. Shastriji tried to make effective and long lasting policies in order to end the inefficiency in food production. Simultaneosly, Shastri fabricated military with same significance. As military provides protection to the nation’s territory from threats. It also ensures that foreign nations honor their commitments and agreements with us.

Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan

In 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee underlined the importance of knowledge in India’s progress by adding one more term to the slogan which became Jai Jawan! Jai Kissan! Jai Vigyan!  For any successful nation, particularly in today’s quest for knowledge based economies, science, technology and engineering are the basic requisites. If nations do not implement science and technology, then the chances of getting them developed becomes minimal and thus could be even rated as an undeveloped nation. Science and Technology is associated in all means with modernity and it is an essential tool for rapid development.

In 2009, Dr Kailash Chandra Mishra at the 10th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award ceremony restated the slogan as Jai Jawan! Jai Kissan! Jai Vigyan! Jai Vidwan! .Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan is an upcoming Hindi movie which pays a tribute to the glorious life of Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri which is scheduled to release in 2015.

The revival of the spirit of the slogan as a promise given by the BJP government in the election manifesto shows its current relevance.


Jai Jawan  Jai Kisan-In Today’s World

Fifty years after Shastri’s death, by 2016, India will probably start seeing military parity in the modern era. Behind this parity, are two developments in India’s defense posture. The Indo-Russian development of the Brahmos missile. The development of the T-50 Fifth-Generation Fighter-Aircraft (FGFA).

Tashkent Declaration

The Tashkent Declaration of 10 January 1966 was a peace agreement between India and Pakistan after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The 1965 armed conflict between India and Pakistan was formally brought to an end by signing this declaration at Tashkent, the capital of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and President Ayub Khan signed it in the presence of the Soviet Premier Alexi Kosygin who mediated between them. Declared  their firm resolve to restore normal and peaceful relations between their countries and to promote understanding and friendly relations between their peoples.  They consider the attainment of declaration objectives of vital importance for the welfare of the 600 million people of India and Pakistan. India achieved both its main objectives : a no-war agreement with Pakistan, and its commitment to honour the “sanctity” of the ceasefire line in J&K.



Two great powers pushed the two nations to a cease fire for fears the conflict could escalate and draw in other powers. The Tashkent conference, under United Nations, American and Soviet pressure, compelled India to give away the conquered region in Pakistan occupied national boundary of India and the 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir. They pressurised India-Pakistan with dire consequences of defying the UN Security Council’s resolution insisting that the armed personnel of both countries return to the positions they had occupied before August 5, when Pakistan’s infiltrations into Kashmir were first detected





  • Indian and Pakistani forces would pull back to their pre-conflict positions, pre-August lines .
  • The nations would not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Economic and diplomatic relations would be restored.
  • Orderly transfer of Prisoners of War.
  • The two leaders would work towards building good relations between the two countries.



  • The agreement was criticized in India because it did not contain a no-war pact or any renunciation of guerrilla warfare in Kashmir.
  • After signing the agreement, Lal Bahadur Shashtri the Indian Prime Minister then died mysteriously at Tashkent.
  • In accordance to the Tashkent Declaration, talks at the ministerial level were held but no result was achieved out of these talks, as there was a difference of opinion over the Kashmir issue.
  • Demonstrations and rioting erupted at various places throughout the country.
  • It was the difference over Tashkent Declaration, which eventually led to the removal of Z. A. Bhutto from Ayub’s government
  • Tashkent Declaration greatly damaged the image of Ayub Khan, and became one of the many factors that led to his downfall
  • In broad outline, of course, the declaration was not a game-changer. It did not cause Delhi and Islamabad to turn a new leaf in their relations and so move ahead toward changing the entire gamut of their ties.


Durand Line

It is the 2,600 km border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. In an attempt to secure or depict borders or frontiers, several lines were drawn in India and elsewhere during the period of the British Empire. These were:

  • The Durand Line (1893) that was to represent the limits of the respective spheres of influence of British India and Afghanistan in the Pakhtun belt;
  • The Johnson-Ardagh Line (1895) – border of Ladakh, a territory belonging to the Indian princely state of Kashmir, with Tibet and Sinkiang;
  • McCartney-MacDonald Line (1899) – Kashmir-Ladakh border with Sinkiang and Tibet;
  • The McMahon Line (1914) between Tibet and India in the eastern sector; and
  • The Radcliffe Award/Line (1947) dividing British administered India (excluding the princely states of undivided India) into India and Pakistan.

Historic Backgrouund:

  • Imperialism — British interest in Afghanistan — due to its strategic geographical location
  • Can act as an advanced post outside India’s frontier to check Russian threat + promoting British commercial interests in Central Asia
  • This resulted in 1st Afghan War 1839-41 – British lost the war
  • 2nd Afghan War 1878 – British victory – Treaty of Gandamak
  • Durand Line Agreement 1893 – signed between Sir Mortimer  Durand, the Foreign Secretary of then undivided British India and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan ruler. Hence the name Durand Line.

Post Independence:

  • The issue of Durand Line has been the bone of contention between Afghanistan and Pakistan since 1947.
  • Afghanistan rejects the line as international boundary. In 1948, Afghanistan opposed Pakistan joining the UN.
  • Pakistan asserts the line as international border.
  • In 1950 there were incursions from the Afghanistan side into Pakistani Pakhtun territory. In 1961 there were skirmishes which led to the border being shut down for a number of years.
  • The line runs through the tribal lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly inhabited by Pashtuns. A Loya Jirga held in 1949 repudiated all the treaties made with the British and supported an independent Pakhtunistan.
  • During the war against the Soviet Union, CIA-funded and ISI-trained
    Mujahideen military groups from Pakistan regularly crossed the Durand Line to fight in Afghanistan
  • The majority of the Taliban are made up of Afghan Pashtun tribesmen. Even the Taliban, acknowledged to be under Pakistani influence, when they ran Afghanistan, refused to accept the Line as an international border.
  • S.A & U.K. supports Pakistan’s claim – based on their self-interest in the region.
  • India has refrained from commenting on the Durand Line even though Afghanistan’s frontier meets the territory of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (in areas currently occupied by Pakistan)

Present Scenario:

  • Porous Border: The border has become a centre of all illegal activities – from arms trade to narcotics. – Acts as a passage for Taliban militants.


  • Geopolitical Significance:


  • Balochistan – as the Baloch refer to their homeland, is divided today between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan — holds significant reserves of gas, gold, copper, oil and uranium, and also has a 1,000-kilometre coastline at the gates of the Persian Gulf Pakistan Province – marred by insurgency by Baloch rebels – another ethnic tribe demanding separate Balochistan. Pakistan afraid of Afghanistan’s role in Balochistan. As a countermeasure Pakistan supports Taliban against them.


  • Gwadar Port and the “String of Pearls”:
  • Multi-billion dollar agreement between Pakistan and China to develop the port ofGwadar
  • Important to the shipping route into and out of the Persian Gulf — Gateway to the Strait of Hormuz
  • A significant international route for oil tankers travelling through the Gulf to Japan and western countries.
  • This would enable it to compete with UAE ports, improving existing links with the Caspian region and offering a better trade route to the landlocked region.


  • An alternative to Karachi, its largest port, which is located close to Indian territory


  • Seen as a part of ‘String of Pearls’ strategy of Chinese where they’ve got hold of strategic ports in Gwadar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and South China Sea


  • Chabahar port – India & Iran
  • In October 2014, the Indian cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made a final decision to support the Iranian Chabahar port projecton the shores of the Arabian Sea


  • Located in Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran — just 44 miles (70 km) away from Gwadar and is strategically situated between Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, making it especially valuable for checking any Chinese attempt to use Gwadar to deepen naval deployments in Middle Eastern waters


  • Integral part of India’s Afghan strategy given the Persian Gulf state’s proximity to Afghanistan, which allows India to use it to bypass Pakistan


  • Iranian governmenthas built a series of roads connecting Chabahar port to the Iran-Afghanistan border


  • Strategy is aimed at fulfilling the immediate security interests of establishing a sea-land route into Afghanistan’s major cities – Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.


  • This access will be facilitated through the Zaranj-Delaram road, constructed by India in 2009.
  • Additionally, it’s a step to counter China’s growing influence in the development of that region


  • TAPI pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipelines for the supply of natural gas Important for meeting India’s energy needs – passes through Durand Line.
  • US led NATO pulls out of Afghanistan



The future of the Line is very much dependent on the strategic game that is currently being played all over the region, essentially for a stake in Afghanistan’s vast oil, gas and mineral resources, with new entrants, most noticeably China. It is in a way connected to the strategy that would be adopted by the players of this strategic game.


Lal Bahadur Shastri Goverment achievements

Shastri was the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and He became the Minister of Police and Transport in Pant’s Cabinet . He was appointed as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet; also held the portfolios of Transport & Communications, Commerce and Industry, and Home Ministry in the Central cabinet. He once resigned from his post as Railways and Transport cabinet minister, not as a political move but as an honest reaction of accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for the railway accidents that took place. He succeeded Jawaharlal Nehru as the second Prime Minister of India in 1964. He kept a low political profile except towards the end of his administration. During his tenure the country was facing huge challenges. There was food shortage in the country and on the security front Pakistan was creating problems. In 1965, Pakistan tried to take advantage of India’s vulnerability and attacked India. Mild-mannered Shastri rose to the occasion and led the country ably. To enthuse soldiers and farmers he coined the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan”.



Shastri continued Nehru’s socialist economic policies with central planning.  He promoted the White Revolution – a national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk – by supporting the Amul milk co-operative of Anand, Gujarat and creating the National Dairy Development Board. While speaking on the chronic food shortages across the country, Shastri urged people to voluntarily give up one meal so that the saved food could be distributed to the affected populace. Many parts of the country observed the “Shastri Vrat”. He himself motivated the countrymen to maximize the cultivation of food grains in lawn in his official residence in New Delhi. During the 22-day war with Pakistan in 1965, On October 19, 1965, Shastri gave the seminal ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kishan’ (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”) slogan at Urwa in Allahabad that became a national slogan. Underlining the need to boost India’s food production, Shastri also promoted the Green Revolution. The Food Corporation of India was setup under the Food Corporation’s Act 1964 . The National Agricultural Products Board Act was passed during his tenure. The Third Five Year Plan was during his tenure. Due to miserable failure of the Third Plan the government was forced to declare “plan holidays” (from 1966–67, 1967–68, and 1968–69). Three annual plans were drawn during this intervening period. During 1966–67, there was again the problem of drought. Equal priority was given toagriculture, its allied activities, and industrial sector. The main reasons for plan holidays were the war, lack of resources, and increase in inflation.




Shastri continued Nehru’s policy of non-alignment but also built closer relations with the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the formation of military ties between the Chinese People’s Republic and Pakistan, Shastri’s government decided to expand the defense budget of India’s armed forces. In 1964, Shastri signed an accord with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike regarding the status of Indian Tamils in the then Ceylon. This agreement is also known as the Srimavo- Shastri Pact or the Bandaranaike-Shastri pact.


Srimavo- Shastri Pact: Under the terms of this agreement, 600,000 Indian Tamils were to be repatriated, while 375,000 were to be granted Sri Lankan citizenship. This settlement was to be done by 31 October, 1981. However, after Shastri’s death, by 1981, India had taken only 300,000 Tamils as repatriates, while Sri Lanka had granted citizenship to only 185,000 citizens (plus another 62,000 born after 1964). Later, India declined to consider any further applications for citizenship, stating that the 1964 agreement had lapsed.


In December 1965, Lal Bahadur Shastri made an official visit with his family to Rangoon, Burma and re-established a cordial relation with the country’s military government of General Ne Win. India’s relationship with Burma had stained after the 1962 Military coup.



                        The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

                        But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep


–  Robert Frost


The Nehru era of first thirteen years after India’s Independence was a period of  challenges- Partition  and post-partition refuge rehabilitation; integration of princely states; adoption  of the constitution; linguistic reorganization of states Also , some success was achieved in conducting the General  Elections of 1952 and 1957; science and technology; formulation of foreign policy on the basis of Non Alignment were some of the acheivements of post-Independence India. When compared to that, the period from 1960 to 1964 may be described as Time of Troubles and Frustration.


In 1962, China and India engaged in the brief Sino-Indian War over the border in the Himalayas. In response to Prime Minister, Nehru’s invitation, Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai visited  India for the second time in April 1960. During his six-day stay in India, Chou  held discussions with Nehru on the questions of boundary between the two  countries. A serious attempt was made to settle the bilateral border issue was made. The discussion revealed that wide gap existed between the respective positions  adopted by China and India and the differences appeared to be irreconcilable and thus the Nehru-Chou talks failed.


The bone of contention

The border with China runs 3488 km. It can be divided into three sectors:

  • Western Sector: This includes the border between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjiang and Tibet. India claims that China is occupying 43,000 sq km in this sector, including 5180 sq km illegally ceded to it by Pakistan.
  • Central Sector: This includes borders shared by Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand with Tibet. Shipki La and Kaurik areas in HP and areas around Pulam, Thag La, Barahori, Kungri Bingri La, Lapthal and Sangha are disputed.
  • Eastern Sector: China disputes India’s sovereignty over 90,000 sq km, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang, Bum La, Asaphi La and Lo La are among the sensitive points in this sector. Strategically vital Tawang holds the key to the defence of the entire sub-Himalayan space in this sector.

Relation between china and India before war.

Relation was flourishing between China and India during early part of 1950’s. India gave recognition to china as a sovereign nation when whole world was alienating china. India also recognized china’s claim over Tibet. China and India signed Panchsheel agreement .India advocated China’s inclusion in united nation. India declined to attend a conference in San Francisco for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan because China was not invited. Indian foreign policy was very friendly and cordial with china.

But, In October 1950 China established its military control over Tibet, in violation of the country’s autonomy. India was dismayed because  it had guaranteed Tibetan autonomy under an existing convention. Instead of  condemning the blatant Chinese invasion of Tibet, India considered the Chinese action as an internal matter. Tibetan autonomy was unceremoniously and “totally
disregarded”.’ With the annexation of Tibet, China shared India’s longest land
frontier, “Contiguity was not conducive to harmony”.’ Chinese invasion of
Tibet was a prelude to the invasion of India.


Factors responsible for India-China war

  • Mac-Mohan Line: – The McMahon Lineis a line agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the Shimla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914. It is the effective boundary between China and India. India see this line as actual line of control where as china don’t recognize it.

British India and China gained a common border in 1826, with British annexation of Assam in the Treaty of Yandaboat the conclusion of the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). Subsequent annexations in further Anglo-Burmese Wars expanded China’s borders with British India eastwards, to include the border with what is now Myanmar.In 1913–14, representatives of Britain, China, and Tibet attended a conference in Simla, India and drew up an agreement concerning Tibet’s status and borders. The McMahon Line, a proposed boundary between Tibet and India for the eastern sector, was drawn by British negotiator Henry McMahon on a map attached to the agreement. The Mac Mahon Line of the Indian boundary was drawn by the British cartographers. The official note drafted by Mac Mahon demarcated the  boundary between Indian and Tibet. But China played the ‘game of map man- ship, cleverly and refused to recognize the Mac Mahon Line as it was arbitrarily  drawn during the colonial period. China was making historical claims of having had effective jurisdiction over areas of Ladakh, the central sections of the Indo- Tibatan border, and Arunchal Pradesh. China’s refusal to accept the Mac  Mahon Line posed a serious threat to India’s  Northern borders with China.


Recently McMahon line has completed 100 years in 2014. India is also planning to construct a road along the international. The boundary from Mago-Thingbu in Tawang to Vijaynagar in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said The McMahon Line marks boundary between Chinese-held and Indian- held territory in the eastern Himalayan region. The line was the focus of a brief war in 1962, when Indian and Chinese forces struggled to control a disputed area much of which is a high altitude wasteland. It runs from the eastern border of Bhutan along the crest of the Himalayas until it reaches the great bend in the Brahmaputra River where that river emerges from its Tibetan course into the Assam Valley.



  1. China Invasion of Tibet

China invaded Tibet, under the pretext of suppressing a revolt in the  Kampa region and the subsequent integration of Tibet with China, was a flagrant  violation of the land of Dalai Lama, which was guaranteed by India. India not  only acquiesced with the Chinese position in Tibet but also concluded the  Panch Shell Agreement with the invader in 1954. This had legitimized the Chinese  illegal occupation of Tibet besides encouraging it in hegemonic adventurism.


  1. Arrival of Dalai Lama:

Consequent on the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Dalai Lama with upto  100,000 Tibetans fled into India and sought political asylum in 1950. The  Government of India granted political asylum to them. Beijing was annoyed.  The infuriated China accused India for giving asylum to Tibetan refugees,  instigating rebellion in Tibet, and allowing a Tibetan government in exile. Relation between the two countries deteriorated when India allowed Dalai Lama to reside in India. China saw it as an interference of India.


  1. Covert intention of China: – When India was celebrating India-China flourishing relationship, china was covertly building infrastructure across border. They built road in Aksai chin area to have better control in the region.


China intruded into Indian territory because of its own political and  diplomatic compulsions. China was jealous of India’s growing influence among  the non-aligned nations. China could not get a U.N. seat nor could it establish  its leadership of Afro-Asia. China was not sure of social support on the nuclear issue. China felt isolated. By humiliating India, “it wanted to show that her  policy of peace and non-alignment was not feasible”.’ If India gave up its policy of peace under pressure, then China could easily replace India and lead  the countries of Asia and Africa.


  1. Chinese Intrusions


The Chinese troops started intruding into Indian territory and setting up camps as early as June 1955. In April 1956, they entered the Nilang area of  Uttar Pradesh. The Chinese started building the Sinkiang- Tibet road that crossed  the eastern Ladakh. By 1957, Chinese intrusions into Indian territory had become  a regular feature. In September 1958 a detachment of Chinese troops crossed  into Lohit division of NEFA. They had already laid the Aksai Chin road which crossed into the Indian territory. In 1959, there were a series of border incidents.  When the Chinese ambushed a party of 19 Indians in Ladakh and killed 16 of  them (6 Oct.1959) there was strong anti-China feelings in India. All these  intrusions culminated in the invasion in 1962. To attribute the Chinese invasion of India to a single cause of ‘China’s own compulsion’ will be an exercise in self defensive justification and rationalization.



  1. Forward Policy of India: – When relation between India and china was deteriorating, India sent its troops to NEFA region (current Arunachala Pradesh) to contain the deteriorating situation at border. Also India and China started surrounding each other post to cut supply line of each other in time of need/war .This increased tension at border. China claim this event as forward policy of India.


  1. Failure of foreign policy towards China: – Top leadership failed to recognize the covert intension of China. Reluctance of Political leadership from both side to talk and resolve border issue at early stage of growing relationship.


Reasons for defeat in war

  • Unpreparedness of Indian Army:-Indian army was not prepared at that time. Their Arms and ammunition were outdated. They were not trained for war at Mountains. Basic amenities were also not adequate.
  • Extreme cold condition: – Most of the soldiers fighting were from Plains. They were not habituated to extreme cold. It played havoc to the soldiers.
  • Un-Advantageous Position: – In some region Chinese were at height and Indians were at lower level. (Aksai chin area).
  • Number of battalion deployed: – From India side there were very less number of soldiers as compared to china.
  • Mismanagement at top level: – Top level officials were not able to effectively communicate to the army. Some time there were conflicting orders which resulted into confusion.
  • No use of IAF: – Some analyst believe that it was mistake not to have used the air force


Nehru’s pet policy of non-alignment received a severe set back. Nehru the champion of non-alignment found himself in a bad situation and leaning towards USA for military weapons . The war also exposed the military weakness of the  Indian army and driven home the dire need for modernizing the armed forces. There was also a serve set-back to the Indian plans for economic development,  since India was forced to increase defence spendings and thus diverting the economic resources away from social sector spending.

The Defence minister Krishna Menon’s credibility, honesty and integrity came under clouds and there was a general lack of confidence in him. In 31 October  1962, Nehru bowed to pressure and removed Menon from the defence portfolio.   The emboldened opposition blocked a constitutional amendment aimed at  strengthening land ceiling legislation. The Congress lost three Parliamentary by-election in succession. Finally, In August 1963 Nehru faced the first ever no  confidence motion of his life.

Evaluation of Policy of Non-Alignment
Ideals and Principles


Nehru’s foreign policy was based on the time tested Indian values like peace, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-violence, good neighbourliness as  against domination, aggression, expansionism, violence and power politics.

The ideals cherished by leaders of India’s freedom struggle had their impact on the country’s foreign policy. The underlying principles are: 1) Foreign policy based on national objectives and interests; 2) Non-alignment; Panch Sheel;  Opposition to imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and apartheid; 4) Solidarity with third-world countries; 5) Friendly relations with neighbouring  nations; 6) Support to disarmament; 7) Peaceful nuclear policy; 8) Purity of  means; and 9) Support to U.N.O. and world peace.


Meaning and Nature


For Jawaharlal Nehru neither Capitalism nor Communism has any attraction for him, but Nehru preferred a path for India that is built on Socialist principles.
Nehru also sees a unique role for India in world politics. He sees himself as a statesman. He sees an India which is no longer dependent on any external power; the impact of colonialism is fresh in the mind. He does not wish India to be tied into one camp or the other. He wants to be in a position to take advantage of both blocs so that India may benefit. He espouses the principle of non-alignment or rather issue based alignment.


The essential elements of non-alignment were: 1) independent foreign  policy; 2) opposition to colonialism of any kind; 3) rejection of bilateral military  alliance with any super power; 4) non-membership of power blocks; and 5) not  permitting military base on the territory of the state. So, non-alignment was an  important aspect of India’s foreign policy. It was “a policy, not an immutable  principle, and it was only one aspect of policy, not the whole of it”. It was a  cardinal principle, the comer-stone of India’s foreign policy. In short, “keep
above from power alignments and seek friendly cooperation will all” was the  essence of Nehru’s Non-alignment.


Working of Non-Alignment


India’s freedom coincided with the break down of war-time alliances  between the USA and the U.S.S.R. Europe had been divided into two distinct  were blocks. Western Europe was under the domination of America and  tern Europe under the control of Russia. Chinese revolution had altered the  relationship of forces on a global scale. Korea and Indo-China became the  USA  ground for cold war. In such a situation the newly independent India was  literally on the cross roads. Nehru’s Government decided to take the new road  of  Non-alignment. The history of Non-alignment during the Nehru Era may be divided  into three phases.


  1. First Phase: 1947-1950


The policy of non-alignment originated in the realization that the  struggle against colonial exploitation did not come to a close with the formal  withdrawal of alien powers. Infact, the policy of non alignment is a continuation  the struggle of the colonial world against imperialism. The policy of non- alignment as a basic principle of Indian foreign policy was formulated in the initial years of independence. Nehru firmly rejected UNO’s suggestion of a

fence pact between India, Burma, Ceylon and Pakistan lest it would be an  extension of Truman Doctrine to South East Asia.


During this formative period, India maintained strict neutrality and at  the same time never hesitated to openly criticize the forces of western  Imperialism, in Asia and Africa, boldly accorded recognition to communist China;  condemned American attempt to contain communism in Korea, and Indo-China; cognized West Germany instead of East Germany and declared North Korea  the aggressor. Thus, India had demonstrated that it could pursue an  Independent foreign policy based on non-alignment. It was a period of Indian
neutrality in Cold-War.


  1. Second Phase: 1950-1957


In the next seven years India conceptualized and codified its policy of  Non-alignment. It also enlarged and operationalised this policy during this  period. Nehru endeavoured to demonstrate that India was not pro-West and  dispel the suspicion of the Soviet Union about the credentials and credibility of  India. The demise of Stalin in 1953 led to the liberalization of the Soviet foreign  policy. India’s stand in the Korean War and Indo-China conflict, and her  recognition of China convinced Russia about the conviction of India to be
independent and non aligned.


  1. Third Phase: 1957-1964


Indian policy of Non-alignment faced new challenges during this period.  Foods crisis of 1957, increasing influence of native communists want of foreign  exchange and the threatened failure of the Five Year Plan and India-Chinn  border dispute placed India in a tight comer. The validity of the policy of Non- alignment was questioned. When the Chinese aggression took place in 1962,  USSR and a number of non-aligned countries did not extend timely support to  India. But Britain and America came forward to help India. There was demand  for abandoning the policy of non alignment. But Nehru refused to abandon hi
policy at the time of grave crisis. He was amply vindicated when in 1963 Russia  criticized Chinese aggression of India and accused her of attempting to drive  India into Western Camp. By mid-sixtures both the super powers started  accepting the relevance of India’s policy of non-alignment. There was, of  course, a severe set back to Nerhu’s policy of non-alignment but it was not a  fatal blow to its practice during the third phase.



An estimate of NAM can be done as follows

  1. High Ideals
    In a world racked by geopolitical muscle flexing, the NAM refreshingly provides a unique approach to disarmament and economic development. It frees us from a cluster-mind mentality that has plagued the foreign policy of many European nations (Eastern ones in particular).
    But, Idealistic approaches are only good for romantic novels and theoretical doctrines. The fact exists that one needs to have good relationship with countries who are ahead in terms of science and technology in order to stay relevant with the times.
  2. Superpower fantasy
    NAM dictates that India’s development and democratic success will take it towards a path of economic and sovereign betterment. But, it is akin to saying that we shall be moral in a world which is amoral, that despite this Hobbesian existentialism of the countries, we shall not behave like one of the superpowers, despite our constant urge (and insistence) that we are one of the big players and thus there is logical inconsistency highly tasteless and infantile.
  3. Equation with Sovereignty
    Sovereignty of one’s country’s ambitions and enforced neutrality will not compromise its internal stability. This gives us the ability to reject what the big players want happen, and judging the decisions of it’s own merit.
    But, why sovereignty and non-conformance to “the other’s” strategic policies have anything to do with each other.
  4. Internal workings
    The policy is of the belief that self-reliance and “resonance” can be achieved through rapid  development and growth potential evident in India.





‘Panch Sheel’ was first enunciated in the Sino-Indian Treaty on Tibet  in April 1954. The Sanskrit term Panch Sheel means ‘five codes of conduct.  It stands for the following five principles. 1) Mutual respect for each other’s  territorial integrity and sovereignty; 2) Non-aggression; 3) Non-interference in each others  internal affairs; 4) Equality and mutual benefit; and 5) Peaceful co- existence.


Guiding Star



Panch Sheel was formulated for conducting healthy relations among  nationalist. It was a natural extension of lndia’s policy of Non-alignment. Infact, it  was corrolary to and codification of that policy and a guiding star for  International relations. Non-alignment along with Panch Sheel formed the sheet- anchor of India’s foreign policy. Panch Sheel caught the attention of several  countries.  Vietnam-slavia, Burma, Laos, Nepal and Combodia were quick  to accept it. The Asian Relations Conference held in April 1955 in New Delhi  the first Afro-Asian conference  held at Bandung endorsed Panch Sheel.
Australia, Austria and Poland carne forward to accept it. In 1957, Soviet Premier  Khrushchev evinced interest in Panch Sheel.




Panch Sheel has been criticized as an idealistic formulation which can  work only under ideal conditions; ignores the reality of international relations;  impractical international relations; an apparel of appeasement and so on. India’s perception that China would honour Panch Sheel and stick to mutual  respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and mutual non- aggression proved to be “clutching at straws after the main opportunity had a deliberately discarded”.” It is a combination of “the rhetoric of Wilson and
ladstone with the practices of Disraeli and Theodore Roosevelt  governed by  abstract, superior morality”.” Nevertheless, the ideology and philosophy  hind Panch Sheel will ever remain un-assailable and the reality of international relations reinforce the need and necessity for the same.


Kamaraj Plan, 1963

The Chinese aggression, weakened Nehru’s control over the Congress party and thus Nehru wanted to review the party which looked beyond repair and reconstruction. Internal infightings, longing for power, pelf and patronage, loosing touch with the mass, ineffective  organization lack of leadership, creeping corruption, successive defeats in Lok Sabha by-elections in  l963 were some of the reasons responsible for the decline of the Congress.

In his search for a solution to these problems, Nehru stumbled on the Kamaraj  Plan. K.Kamaraj,the Chief Minister of Madras State, discussed the plan with  Nehru in early August 1963. Then they broached the subject with the Congress  President D.Sanjivaya. The Kamaraj plan was that senior congressmen-both  cabinet ministers and chief ministers- would resign their positions in order to  take up full-time organizational work for the party. The Kamaraj Plan was at  first mooted at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and then the CWC  resolution on the subject was discussed at the All India Congress Committee  (AICC) on  10 August 1963 and was approved.

Consequent on the AlCC Resolution, the Kamaraj Plan was implemented  on 24 August 1963. The plan was widely acclaimed as all the cabinet ministers  and chief ministers resigned their posts. Nehru chose six cabinet ministers  Morarji Desai, Jagjeevan Ram, Lal Bahadur Shastri, S.K.Patil, B.Gopala Reddy and K.L.Srimali – and six Chief Ministers – K.Kamaraj (Madras), Biju Patnaik  (Orissa), Binodanand Jha (Bihar), C.B.Gupta (U.P), B.A.Mandloi (M.P) and Bakshi  Gulam Muhammad (Kashmir) – to resign.

The Kamaraj Plan was a drastic step. It created lot of bitterness and   heart-burning. None of those who resigned, except K.Kamaraj, the author of  the plan, was happy about their resignations. S.K.Patil who seconded the motion moved by Kamaraj, later accused Nehru of bias. Desai maintained that the so-called Kamaraj Plan was nothing but Nehru’s plot to install Indira Gandhi as his successor.

Its immediate effect was to ease out less desirable ministers, like Desai,
who were not enthusiastic about the socialistic strategy pursued by Nehru.
However, the Kamaraj Plan received a setback because of the delay in Kamaraj
taking charge of Congress Presidentship, the retried leaders had not been allotted
any party work. Shastri, was brought back to the government. When Shastri became Prime Minister he took back S.K.Patil as minister and invited Desai to join his cabinet. Finally, the plan became unsuccessful.

After the Bhubaneshwar Congress session in 1963, there was growing concern  about Nehru’s health and a general feeling that he might not continue as Prime  Minister for long. Therefore, the question of succession was discussed by  senior congressmen. A group of 6 leading congressmen .K..Kamaraj,  K.Nijalingappa, S.K.Patil, Atulya Ghosh, Sanjeeva Reddy and C.B.Gupta -met  at Tirupati in the summer of 1963, discussed the prevailing situation and decided to form themselves into a group so that they could guide the Congress more  effectively. The idea was to take charge of the Congress organization, so that  when the time came for the next Prime Minister to be chosen, they would have  decisive voice in the matter. This group came to be called as the “Syndicate” . The Syndicate was a self appointed steering committee of the Congress. This  historic meeting of what later came to be called the Syndicate, possibly gave a  pivotal turn to the course of history of the Congress and brought the Prime  Ministership of India to Shastri.”


Nehru’s last days

The Chinese unprovoked attack of 1962 was an outright attack on  Nehru’s dreams, hopes and aspirations. He was tired and wanted to retire. But  he was persuaded to pursue his path of socialistic pattern of society. On 29 August 1962, Nehru expressed his satisfaction that the Kamaraj Plan had proved  that the Congress had no lust for power. Despite the Chinese betrayal and  deteriorating health Nehru kept himself busy rallying the nation to realize his  cherished goal of Democratic Socialism. On 14 November 1963, the nation celebrated his 74th birth day. Five days later (19 November), the union cabinet  was reshuffled. On 1 December Nehru inaugurated the new state of Nagai and.  On 26 December, addressing a public meeting, he talked about the take-off
stage of the next five year plan.


On 7 January 1964, Nehru developed high blood pressure and was  advised rest. Nehru participated in the celebrations of the Republic Day (26  Jan)  and sat through for three hours till the parade was over. He involved  himself in the task of nation building till he was forced to ‘retreat’ to Dehra Dun on 23 May for a three-day rest. On 26 May he returned to Delhi. On 27 May 1964, Nehru woke up, felt uneasy, read a book and after a brief bed rest, breathed his last. The nation was grief stricken, C.Subramanian, the Central Minister, informed the Parliament: “The Prime Minister is no more. The light is out”. In a fitting tribute to the departed leader, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan observed “Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the greatest figures of our generation. As a fighter for freedom he was illustrious, as a maker of modern India his services were unparalled … An epoch in our country’s history has come to a close”.




The party system in India has the following features which reflect the legacy of the National Liberation Movement.  First , the Multi-party system which till 1989 remained dominated by the Congress Party. Second, the dominant leadership role played by Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle determined the dominant role that the Congress was in a position to play during 1947 and after. Third, the existence of socialist and communist parties also owe their origin to the days of National Movement. Fourth, the existence of the leftist and rightist groups within the Congress is also due to the historical legacy.

Settlement between different ideological groups

Indian National Movement flourished in India through promises and settlement between different ideological groups or parties. The Indian National Congress as a political party was a mix of different ideologies – conservatism and radicalism, conservatism and leftism, moderatism and extremism and purely constitutional (elections) and the action means (strikes etc.). The legacy of the National Movement which mainly got manifested through the movements and programmes launched by the Congress.

Relationship between the Government and the political Parties

It is known that in a parliamentary democracy the issue of relationship between the party organisation and the governmental structure are of crucial significance as it affects the quality and working of the government in several ways. During freedom struggle, the party organisation always played the superior role and men in power always obeyed party directives. In 1937, the Congress directed its leaders to form ministries and later on in 1939, it asked them to resign. This directive was obeyed by all. The relation of the party headquarters to the party’s parliamentary group tended therefore to be that of a most important to an agent. After independence, this legacy provoked the Congress Party to exercise control over the Congress Prime Ministers and the Council of Ministers. It, however, gave rise to a tussle between Purshotam Dass Tandon vs Nehru. To overcome the possible party dictates, there emerged the practice of either holding a dual charge leadership of the Party and leadership of government or having a hand-picked party president. Nehru depended mainly upon his personal charisma for overcoming the problem while his successors, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi used, at times, both these alternatives. Even the Janata Party government had this problem. It adopted the principle of one person one office but it could not achieve its successful operationalisation. The persistence of the demand for the superiority of the reorganisational wing of the party over the governmental wing is a legacy of the national ration movement. The system of supporting the party/coalition group in power from the idea by some political parties.

Centralised System of Party Organisations

In India the party organizations particularly the party organisations of the Congress and the BJP, are based upon the principle of central system. The party High Command or the national leadership exercises a high degree of control over the local and provincial level party organisations. This feature of the Indian party system is also a legacy of the National Movement.

The National Movement was directed, guided and controlled by the central leadership which in real terms meant the All India Congress Committee or the Congress Working Committee or the Congress High Command.

Elections and growth of political parties in India

You would remember that the Constitution was ready and signed on 26 November 1949 and it came into effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled by an interim government.

When the first draft of the rolls was published, it was discovered that the names of nearly 40 lakh women were not recorded in the list. They were simply listed as “wife of …” or “daughter of …”. The Election Commission refused to accept these entries and ordered a revision if possible and deletion if necessary.

In the first general election, it was decided to place inside each polling booth a box for each candidate with the election symbol of that candidate. Each voter was given a blank ballot paper which they had to drop into the box of the candidate they wanted to vote for.



After the first two elections this method was changed. Now the ballot paper carried the names and symbols of all the candidates and the voter was required to put a stamp on the name of the candidate they wanted to vote for. This method worked for nearly forty years. By 2004 the entire country had shifted to the EVM.

Congress dominance in the first three general elections. 1st general election, The Congress party won 364 of the 489 seats in the first Lok Sabha and finished way ahead of any other challenger. The Communist Party of India that came next in terms of seats won only 16 seats. In the state assembly elections also, the Congress did get majority in many few cases ,but in few states like Kerala in 1957 it lost to coalition led by the CPI which then formed the government. For the first time in the world, a Communist party government had come to power through democratic elections.

















The origins of the Socialist Party can be traced back to the mass movement stage of the Indian National Congress in the pre-independence era. The Congress Socialist party (CSP) was formed within the Congress in 1934 by a group of young leaders who wanted a more radical and egalitarian Congress. In 1948, the Congress amended its constitution to prevent its members from having a dual party membership. This forced the Socialists to form a separate Socialist Party in 1948. The Party’s electoral performance caused much disappointment to its supporters. Although the Party had presence in most of the states of India, it could achieve electoral success only in a few pockets.

They criticised the Congress for favouring capitalists and landlords and for ignoring the workers and the peasants. Jayaprakash Narayan, Achyut Patwardhan, Asoka Mehta, Acharya Narendra Dev, Rammanohar Lohia and S.M. Joshi were among the leaders of the socialist parties. Many parties in contemporary India, like the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and the Janata Dal (Secular) trace their origins to the Socialist Party.

Earlier we had coalition in a party, now we have coalition of parties. Does it mean that we have had a coalition government since 1952?

In the early 1920s communist groups emerged in different parts of India taking inspiration from the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and advocating socialism as the solution to problems affecting the country. From 1935, the Communists worked mainly from within the fold of the Indian National Congress. A parting of ways took place in December 1941, when the Communists decided to support the British in their war against Nazi Germany.  The party’s support was more concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Kerala.


The Party went through a major split in 1964 following the ideological rift between Soviet Union and China. The pro-Soviet faction remained as the CPI, while the opponents formed the CPI(M). Both these parties continue to exist to this day.


The Bharatiya Jana Sangh can be traced back to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Hindu Mahasabha before independence.

It emphasised the idea of one country, one culture and one nation and believed that the country could become modern, progressive and strong on the basis of Indian culture and traditions. The party called for a reunion of India and Pakistan in Akhand Bharat.

The party was in forefront of the agitation to replace English with Hindi as the official language of India and was also opposed to the granting of concessions to religious and cultural minorities.

The party was a consistent advocate of India developing nuclear weapons especially after China carried out its atomic tests in 1964.

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