Gyan Prakash Posts

“Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point” by Gyan Prakash

“The Emergency” in India refers to the controversial nineteen month period from 26 June 1975 to 21 March 1977 when the prime minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency across the country. It was officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of the prevailing “internal disturbance”. These Presidential powers conferred upon the prime minister to rule by decree. Elections were suspended. Civil liberties were curbed. The press was censored. Many opponents to the government were imprisoned. Human right violations like the forced mass sterilisation camps organised by the prime minister’s son, Sanjay Gandhi, were held.

Much has been written about the Emergency. Many articles. Many books. Even now testimonies by those who witnessed Emergency are published such as this Scroll article by journalist Kalpana Sharma, ” ‘Himmat’ during the Emergency: When the Press crawled, some refused to even bend” ( 23 June 2015). A few months ago Dayton-Stockton professor of history at Princeton University, Gyan Prakash, wrote Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point. It is an extremely relevant and very readable account of not only the Emergency itself but also contextualising it within the events preceding it immediately and its far reaching consequences such as the rise of Hindutva forces in Indian democracy. The reason for his writing Emergency Chronicles is interesting too as Gyan Prakash witnessed the popular upsurge in August 2011 when he witnessed “a crowd of tens of thousands brave the searing Delhi heat to gather in the Ramlila Maidan, a large ground customarily used for holding religious events and political rallies. Young and old, but mostly young, they came from all over the city and beyond in response to a call by the anti-corruption movement led by another Gandhian activist, seventy-four-year-old Anna Hazare. The atmosphere in the Maidan was festive, the air charged with raw energy and expectations of change.” This event reminded Gyan Prakash of a similar student and youth upsurge organised by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), veteran freedom fighter and once a close associate of Indira’s father, Jawaharlal Nehru. JP had emerged from political retirement to organise this movement that he called Total Revolution.

In his introduction to the book, Prof. Gyan Prakash writes “Popular activism arises in the tension between these two ends of politics, demanding that the formal institutions of democracy — the elected government, law and the judiciary, press and the public sphere — respond to the people’s voice. The growing tide of such politics forms part of the global history of modernity since the emergence of mass societies and politics around the world beginning in the interwar period. In the present, it continues and is accelerating in the form of populism. This book explores the challenge of popular politics in India’s postcolonial history and studies Indira’s Emergency as a specific even in its broader experience as a democracy. What follows is an Indian story in the global history of democracy’s relationship with popular politics.”

As Mini Kapoor in the Hindu while reviewing the book says, “…this seminal and vivid inquiry, it is not the date of that notice that Prakash questions. The question that animates this book is, to align it to the phrasing of the classified, how dead was democracy during the 21-month-long Emergency? The proclamation had after all been sought and signed, lawfully, under Article 352(1) of the Constitution of India.”

Emergency Chronicles by a historian ensures that there is marshalling of empirical evidence to present a draconian period in modern Indian history. Gyan Prakash also proves that the tools to impose the Emergency already existed enabling the then prime minister to use existing constitutional structures. But with the keen scholarship of a historian he also extends his argument to the present to state that “the Emergency enjoys an afterlife”.

Read Emergency Chronicles.

26 June 2019

Book 20: 18 – 24 November 2018

Every Monday I post some of the books I have received in the previous week. Embedded in the book covers and post will also be links to buy the books on Amazon India. This post will be in addition to my regular blog posts and newsletter.

In today’s Book Post 20 included are some of the titles I received in the past few weeks and are worth mentioning and not necessarily confined to parcels received last week.

Enjoy reading!

24 November 2018

Vivek Tejuja’s recommendations, 25 Books by Indian authors ( Nov 2014)

Vivek Tejuja’s recommendations, 25 Books by Indian authors ( Nov 2014)

The Other Side of Silence( Vivek Tejuja posted this list on his Facebook page on 26 Nov 2014. I am reposting it on my blog with his permission.) 

In his post, Vivek Tejuja writes “25 Books by Indian authors that Everyone should read , according to me. This is just my opinion of these books which I have loved and enjoyed over the years. I know there are way too many more which can be added here.”

1. All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani
2. Mother of 1084 by Mahasweta Devi
3. In Custody by Anita Desai 
4. Collected Poems by Eunice de Souza
5. In A Forest, A Deer by Ambai
6. The Book of Destruction by Anand
7. Hangwoman by K. Meera
8. All for Love by Ved Mehta
9. A Life in Words by Ismat Chughtai
10. The Music of Solitude by Krishna Sobti
11. The Other Side of Silence by Urvashi Butalia
12. Dozakhnama by Rabisankar Bal
13. Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash
14. Seven Sixes are Forty Three by Kiran Nagarkar
15. The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
16. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
17. The Guide by R.K. Narayan
18. Rasidi Ticket by Amrita Pritam
19. Selected Short Stories by Kalki 
20. Raag Darbari by Shrilal Shukla
21. Randamoozham or Bhima by M.T. Vasudevan Nair
22. Divya by Yashpal
23. Suraj ka Saatwan Ghoda by Dharamveer Bharati
24. Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawant
25. Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra

27 Nov 2014 

Web Analytics Made Easy -