Skip to main content

In 2018, the shadow of Emergency is reincarnating itself, limits are being imposed on freedom of expression

By Gautam Thaker*
In the last week of June, BJP lashed out at the Congress on the Emergency clamped in 1975. From Mumbai the Prime Minister and from Ahmedabad the party president uttered strong words of criticism. They showed aggressive gestures as if it were the last attempt to launch an attack on the Congress before the forthcoming elections of 2019.
Actually, they should have also revealed the outcome of four years administration and tasks completed, but it did not happen.
Indeed, we all need to understand or realize as to why the Emergency was clamped by Indira Gandhi. At that point of time, there was unbearable inflation and unimaginable corruption. In the year 1974, on both these counts, violent agitations were spearheaded by students. Known as Nav Nirman agitations, these were also called roti riots. These spread throughout the country under the leadership of Jay Prakash Narayan.
Indira felt that, in order to stick to power, new, stringent laws would have to be enacted. As if this was not enough, the Allahabad High Court issued a directive banning her to contest elections for next six years. She felt that by attacking fundamental rights aimed at preventing liberty of thought, speech and expression, and distancing people by misleading them, she could stick to the reins of power. Hence, she announced for press censorship and banned freedom of thought, speech and expression.
People of the country could not tolerate this and all the parties joined together and gave the leadership to Jay Prakash Narayan in 1977. As a result of Parliamentary elections, people secured second independence. People of the country did an excellent task, worthy of inscribing in golden letters in the country's history.
Against this backdrop, comparisons are bound to be made. In 2018, as if, the shadow of the Emergency has reincarnated itself. Limits are being sought to be imposed on the freedom of expression. Especially, dangers are mounting against mass media, media personnel and journalists. Some of them have even been murdered.
Lack or absence of truthful news because of Goebbelsian propaganda, and what has come to be identified as godi media (sitting in the laps of authorities), are a matter of concern. In the name of patriotism and cultural nationalism, freedom of writing, and especially freedom of speech, are sought to be curbed. Corruption has reached at its peak.
On the economic front, people have not yet resuscitated themselves from the assault and shock of demonetization and imposition of the Goods and Services Tax. Systematic efforts are being made to suppress and cow down activists struggling without allegiance to any one party for preservation and protection peoples liberties. Anybody expressing voice of dissent is being labeled or branded as insurgent.
On evaluating of the entire situation prevailing in 1975, this year, 2018, it appears as if we are being pushed backwards by 43 years. In view of arbitrary, anti-people, dictatorial approach of todays rulers, concerned citizens and those in favour of constitutional democracy are in a state of distress. Even ruling party leaders are reported to have begun stating that more serious and unimaginable situation, worse than the Emergency, has arisen.
When democratic values are being violated and rulers are attempting to stick to power by disregarding constitutional provisions, it does pose a big question as to how to struggle against the five Ms -- namely Money, Muscles, Madira (liquor), Media and Machines (EVM). There is also the need to face a situation where the structure of democracy is sought to be intangibly sucked or squeezed from within.
While issues of education and health have degenerated to an extreme, people would have to unite for safeguarding our democratic values. A situation has arisen where, in order to preserve our rights and liberties, we would need to remain constantly awake, ready to face consequences. Indeed, people would need be united irrespective of their caste, creed or racial affiliation. The ruling party would have to be made to take quick and effective steps to solve the problems faced by the poor to control the deteriorating situation.
---
*General secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat. Contact: gthaker1946@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Dalit, Adivasi protest in Jharkhand against 'illegal' transfer of land for development

By Rishit Neogi Displacement and eviction are not new terms. It is surprising that they are still continuing and have become a tool in the hands of state backed corporates to forcibly occupy lands in the name of development.