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Posts Tagged ‘Emergency’

A few months back, I read Ramachanrda¬†Guha’s amazing book titled “India After Gandhi”. I wanted to write about it for quite some time, but somehow it never happened. The book is an account of how India was built after 1947. All our history text-books in schools stopped at 1947, as if after that India just happened. Book tells in quite detail how India was shaped by the founding fathers of country, what kind of society it was, what evils/wrongs did the country do, how did generations were shaped and how this past has influenced (and is shaping) the present and future of the country.

Then 2 weeks back, I was at a GD/PI workshop arranged by IMS for their students with interview calls from IIMs and other top-rung B-Schools in India. I was a faculty there J. I enjoy doing such workshops, as I myself learn a lot in this. But in one interview that day, I met a really impressive guy from Bihar who has changed the way I look at country’s history and it’s present. As he spoke about Bihar and its plight and his strong resolve to change the status-quo and also the reason for such dire state of affairs, I was taken back to this book again.

As we talked about why Bihar is in the shape it is in now, he argued that roots of this is in the failed JP Movement of 70s. JP – or Jaiprakash Narayan is among the few unsung Indian heroes which I feel the current generation has never got a chance to appreciate. His best work came at the time of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, when media and information was totally censored. During this time, a strong student movement was taking place in Bihar against the prevailing inequalities and wrongs in society. On student’s request, JP had taken over the leadership of this movement, and had taken it to quite forward. An entire generation was being shaped by this revolution, youth in the country were smelling change, their dreams and aspirations were surging ahead. However this movement also had its own negative effects as well. The entire education system was getting politicized, and education institutions were more a battleground between rival student groups (backed by political parties). The period of 1975-77 when India was under emergency rule of Indira Gandhi, a new stream of young leaders were getting molded. As Indira Gandhi was eventually overthrown after emergency, these leaders found themselves in position of power. And as the saying goes – “Power and Revolution cannot be together”, once these revolutionaries became the rulers, they acquired all the vices of being rulers. The JP movement failed, and with that, the entire political morality of the country went to dogs. The leaders I am talking about and who emerged from this turmoil are the likes of George Fernandez, Lalu Prasad, Mamta Banerjee, Ramvilas Paswan, comrades from Left and also many from BJP and Congress also. These are the guys who are – fortunately or unfortunately – ruling the country, and hence indirectly our destinies.

With this thought-process, when I look at these so-called leaders, I feel they are not to be blamed entirely for this sorry state of affairs in places like Bihar. When you have an entire generation charged up with ideals and dreams of high morality and equality in society, when an entire generation sacrifices itself for a movement, for a change; and when it sees it falling on its face, I can understand the frustration that generation will face. When you charge a feeling beyond a point, it can go to extreme – either one. Our generation has seen India only after liberalization, but when I read about how country was before it, in books like “India After Gandhi”, I feel for this lost generation. It’s a generation which was lost to excesses – by either emergency or by the revolution. It was a generation which gave up its future for the country, and what it got back was only hypocrisy of politics and corruption. I don’t know if this justifies their frustration, but I feel that this frustration of the failed generation has been the biggest influence for the India we see today.

Book mentions that millions of people were dislocated at the times of partition, and they were subjected to the most brutal of communal violence ever seen by mankind. This is a well known fact which our generation knows, but what we don’t know was that these millions of people were settled within a span of few years. People were allotted land as per their asset holdings in Pakistan, and their fellow villagers vouched for the validity of the claim. There must have been some irregularities in this, but these millions of people were settled and made full citizens of country. Cities were rebuilt, the entire government machinery worked with full dedication to make the country we see today. Can we imagine such an exercise today? Can we imagine getting even a small work done with government machinery without bribing an official? Can we imagine a society which decides distribution of assets just based on the trust and guarantee of fellow villagers?

And when I read about all the moral policing in Mangalore and on Valentine’s Day and the intolerance about alternate argument and belief, my heart fills with respect to the generation which built the country we inherited, and also at the same time feel for the generation which got lost in frustration of falling ideals.

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