Imagini ale paginilor
[ocr errors]


"The handloom industry is next only to agriculture in the number of people employed... In the mill sector, the controlled cloth scheme is being improved "Fortunes have been made out of urban land at the nation's expense Legislation is being initiated to impose ceilings on the ownership and possession of vacant land, to acquire excess land, to restrict the plinth area of new dwelling. units and to socialize urban and urbanized land.

"Tax evasion is a crime. A great deal of black money so evaded goes into luxury housing... We are thinking of summary trials.

"Our campaign against smugglers will be intensified . . .

"Licensing procedures have come in the way of new investment, causing delay. These will be simplied... Licenses are being misused . . . Penalties for breaking rules will include the confiscation of goods.

"Schemes for workers' participation in industries particularly at the shop floor level and production programs will be introduced.

"The movement of food grains, coal, steel, and cement by railways has improved in the last few months. Constraints on the movement of foods by trucks will also be removed. . .

"People with fixed incomes have suffered severe hardships in the last few years. They need immediate relief. The minimum exemption limit for income tax will be raised from 6.000 rupees to 8,000 rupees.

"Students from poor families face special difficulties if they pursue higher studies away from their homes. To help them, essential commodities will be supplied at controlled prices to all hostels and approved lodging houses. As one of the measures to increase employment opportunities for educated young people, the Apprenticeship Act will be suitably amended.


What is most urgent is that collectively we should shake off any sense of helplessness. The worst feature of the crisis which was building over the last few months was that it spread cynicism and sapped national self-confidence. There is a chance now to regain the nation's spirit of adventure. Let us get on with the job."


The Emergency, and its aftermath, is a complex political phenomena for India and it cannot be regarded in simplistic terms. Some of the effects of the Emergency and the related 20-Point Program were initially positive. While a comprehensive consideration of the effects of the Program cannot be made here, some positive results can not and should not be ignored. Whether these results are worth the price is another question.

A. Discipline

"Punctuality Only for Railroads?"

So asked a bitter critic of the Emergency and one of its chief by-products, discipline. In recent years "indiscipline" in India has been notorious. The Emergency created, overnight, the fear that those who continued along the undisciplined path would be penalized. The supreme penalty in an India of chronic unemployment is, of course, the loss of a job. Thus civil servants of all kinds suddenly came to work on time and appeared to do an honest day's work. Students on all levels came to school with perhaps a new sense of dedication. A new atmosphere of discipline undeniably descended upon India-even at least for awhile in the queues for buses.

This phenomenon was not the result of a national consensus and was not the result of a people determined to change its ways because of inspiration from its leaders. It is not discipline coming from within. The discipline arose largely from fear, supported by an urban public relations campaign. Buses and signboards carry slogans about discipline, from the ubiquitous "davp"-the Director. ate of Advertising and Visual Publicity. They remind millions of urban Indians daily that "Discipline Makes a Nation Great," "The Need of the Hour Is Discipline," and "Work More, Talk Less."

Some Indians believe that there has been a striking change for the better since the Emergency began in the heightening of the discipline of their fellow Indians. Others suggest that it is fear and not discipline which motivates new work modes. Most expect that the people will soon slip back into their old ways.

B. Corruption

"Now Corruption Is More Expensive"

Corruption most often involves citizens, including businesses, paying for favors or services to individuals on various levels of government or a ruling party. Corruption is not limited to any one country, social system, or period in world history. Yet one wonders if today there may be more temptations for widespread corruption in poorer societies. This may be because there is in such countries a relatively unlimited demand for goods or jobs, but a relatively limited supply. Thus those who want to receive the limited goods or jobs try to ensure success through bribery. Also the lack of social security in many developing countries may explain not only bribery but also the dowry system.

There have been widespread evidences of corruption in independent India. It is a way of life, a custom. It is practiced at all levels. J.P. several years ago asserted: "The galloping political corruption is affecting and degrading, because of the predominant position politics occupies in an undeveloped society, the entire gamut of national life: business, whether it is private or public; administration; the professions; education; even customs, manners, and personal relations." (3)

Attempts to lessen corruption have seldom succeeded. What results have the Emergency so far produced? It is too early to make any overall judgment or conclusion. More persons have been arrested for many kinds of corruption. Many people-both on the giving and receiving ends-are undeniably more wary. As one observer asserted, "Now corruption is more expensive." An outside observer can attest that some of the leaders of the ruling Congress Party, including some of the top officials of the government, do not have a reputation of incorruptibility.

C. Economic Offenses

"The modern God of India is corruption and the people must try to recognize it in whatever avatar it manifests itself."

So said J. P. (4) The so-called economic offenses: smuggling, foreign exchange violation and tax evasion make up one such avatar. The Emergency provided a climate, together with existing and new laws, to curb these kinds of corruption. Through the enforcement of anti-smuggling laws, and the enactment of new ones, there is a feeling that the bringing of goods into or out of India without duty or authorization has been reduced since the Emergency was declared. The dimensions of these reductions are hard to measure. Yet within six months, 1,700 smugglers were detained and more valuable goods confiscated by the Government than normally.

Immediately after the Emergency began, there were tax raids in various parts of India. The Government introduced the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) which offered an opportunity to tax evaders to declare their hidden wealth and bring it into the mainstream of economic activity. They were given the deadline of 31 December 1975 and promised no penalties, including no imprisonment. By the deadline over 13.13 billion of rupees of black money had been declared, which provided 2.5 billion in taxes, with 400 million going to investment in Government securities. Upon the Taxation Law Amendment Act entering into force, the Courts have the discretion of awarding monetary punishment as an alternative to imprisonment. More recently it was revealed that while 260,000 persons took advantage of the VDS, and a revised total of 15.87 billion rupees had been declared, large sums were still unaccounted for and "considerable black money is still in circulation."

D. Inflation and Prices

"The socio-economic reality in the village, on close examination, is ugly and distressing in the extreme. . . How remote and unreal (are) the brave pronouncements of Delhi or Patna from the actuality at the ground level! High sounding words, grandiose plans, reforms galore. But somehow they all, or most of them, manage to remain suspended somewhere up in mid-air . . . What meets the eye is utter poverty, misery, inequality, exploitation, backwardness, stagnation, frustration, and loss of hope."-J. P. Narayan (5)

Have the Emergency and the 20-Point Program put some of the needed reforms on solid ground? This is not the place to make an evaluation of the economic

situation in India today. Inflation had peaked before the Emergency began and certainly the Emergency helped continue this welcome downward trend. However, the Indian economy was also slowing down before June 26, 1975 and this may be continuing. For a number of reasons, including the weather but also factors preceding the Emergency, the 1975 grain crop was a bumper one and this had positive economic effects. It is really too early to make responsible economic conclusions about the Emergency and the 20-Point Program.

Yet, the huge economic challenge facing India still and also the class structure cannot be ignored. Prof. Kumar Mehta after a visit to India in the summer of 1975 significantly concluded: "Only about 15 per cent of the people in India are affected in any significant manner by the national emergency. Only the rich, the middle class, and the industrial employees, which make up the top 15 per cent, enjoy some economic prosperity. The benefits from the state of Emergency, namely, that inflation is controlled-crime is down-strikes are banned-discipline in factories and offices is improved—the trains run on time—all these touch primarily the lives of upper classes . . . For the bottom 85 per cent, or the overwhelming majority of the Indian people, nothing has really changed by the proclamation of Emergency." (6)

The Aid India Consortium meeting at Paris in May 1976 had before it a World Bank assessment of India's economic prospects which reflected optimism. The group of 13 donor nations and the World Bank pledged $1.8 billion aid for 1976-77, up $25 million from last year. In 1975–76 the agricultural production reached record levels, power shortages had been largely overcome, the volume of exports increased eight per cent in an environment of declining world trade, and there was a negative inflation rate. The leader of the West German delegation said: "We are not concerned with politics and it is not our function to pass judgment on what India should or should not do on the political front." However, another official who would not give his name for quotation said that the Consortium was "not particularly pleased with the political direction of the country, but placed their emphasis on the economic performance."


"A Government that has to rely on the Criminal Law Amendment Act and similar laws, that suppresses the press and literature, that bans hundreds of organizations, that keeps people in prisons without trial, and that does so many other things that are happening in India today, is a Government that has ceased to have even a shadow of a justification for its existence."-Jawaharlal Nehru, 1936.

India is fast going down the slippery slope of totalitarianism. From the latter there is no easy return for any country in any time. This slippage is perceived perhaps more readily outside India than even by many Indian intellectuals on the inside. Yet the signs of descent to totalitarianism are unmistakably present. India is quickly slipping behind a totalitarian Khadi Curtain.

In any summary of these trends, the following negative effects must be discussed the legal erosion; political prisoners; press censorship; Parliament and elections; surveillance and fear; and workers' rights.

While India was a democratic State before June 26, 1975, there were several laws of the central (federal) government which were hardly democratic. They included:

1. A state of emergency-based on external reasons-decreed for the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War was never lifted and continues.

2. Defense of India Act (DIA). This legislation had at least the relative advantage of requiring that detained individuals formally be brought into court and be charged.

3. Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). This legislation gave the authorities wide powers to detain individuals.

After the declaration of the Emergency, the further legal erosion of democracy continued as follows:

1. The President on June 27 issued an order suspending for the duration of the Emergency the right of any person (including a non-citizen) to petition any court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights conferred under Articles 14, 21, and 22 of the Constitution-and suspending all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of these rights.

2. The President on June 29 promulgated an ordinance amending MISA, so that no grounds need be given for detention of a person under this Act. MISA

originally provided that the grounds of detention be supplied to the detainee within a few days after detention. Thus all the authorities must do is make a declaration that the detention of the designated individual is necessary for dealing with the Emergency and give a copy of this declaration to the detainee. 3. The Central Government, on July 4, in four separate orders banned 26 organizations and parties. Their offices were sealed, documents and property seized,. and a large number of their leaders and members arrested.

4. The Central Government, on July 15, issued an ordinance whereby no persons, including non-citizens, detained under MISA could claim a right to personal liberty by virtue of natural or common law.

5. The 38th amendment to the Constitution was adopted, denying legal redress against misuse by the State of its emergency powers by placing the proclamation of the Emergency outside the jurisdiction of the courts.

6. MISA was further amended to prohibit the release of detainees on bail. 7. MISA on October 17 was amended again to forbid disclosure of the grounds of detention or material or information on which such grounds are framed. This was the government's answer to the court which demanded it to disclose to the judiciary the grounds of detention of individuals under MISA.

8. The Lok Sabha on January 22, 1976 confirmed the earlier Presidential decrees amending MISA. By a vote of 181 to 27, the Lok Sabha tightened MISA so that the Government could rearrest persons whose detention orders expired (after one year's detention) or were revoked. In addition, the Government could detain political prisoners without having to disclose reasons to anyone, including the Judiciary.

9. The President in January 1976 issued an order suspending for the duration of the Emergency the fundamental rights or so-called seven freedoms conferred on citizens under Article 19 of the Constitution: freedom of speech and expression, peaceful assembly, association, etc. No person can ask any Court for the enforcement of these rights.

10. The Supreme Court on April 26, 1976 voted four to one to uphold the suspension of almost all individual rights for the duration of the Emergency, including a prisoner's right of habeas corpus petition for a hearing by a court.

11. The President on June 16, 1976 proclaimed an ordinance amending MISA by extending from 12 to 24 months the time during which prisoners may be held without being informed of the charges against them and without the right to petition for release.

The above decrees and laws do not include other restrictions affecting the press, elections, and trade unions.

Despite this legal erosion of fundamental rights, the Indian Judiciary has sofar remained independent and thus remains one of the last safeguards for democracy in India today. The handling of the case against Mrs. Gandhi has been fair on several judicial levels. The handling by the Delhi High Court of the habeus corpus case brought to Mr. Kuldip Nayyar, a journalist who was arrested in July 1975. has been outstanding. (7) Yet if the Judiciary is fair, the environment of the courts raises questions of fairness. The proceedings of the courts are censored before appearing in the press. This puts, in itself, democratic freedoms in jeopardy.


"Nor do I want to be known as a government leader who lacked the will to act decisively when the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru was blocked or threatened."-Mrs. Indira Gandhi. (8)

The arrests under the Emergency began early on the morning of June 26, 1975. It is extremely difficult to estimate the number of political leaders who have been detained. (The persons arrested for economic offenses are often mixed in the figures, but an attempt is made to exclude them from the figures used here.) A few estimates, with dates, are as follows:

August 15-17,483 persons, according to figures collected by Amnesty International from data released by state governments. August 23-"less than 10,000," as given by Minister of Information V. C. Shukla. December "Estimates of those detained under the MISA indicate that the total number may have reached 60,000 to 75,000. Opposition leaders haveclaimed over 200,000 have been arrested." The Review of the International Commission of Jurists. (9)

January-"The police obliged (responding to the two-month Satyagraha) and some 80,000 people were taken in: 15,000 in Karnataka, 9,000 in Kerala,.

8,000 each in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, 5,000 in Delhi. Together they brought the total number of political prisoners now held in India to an estimated 140,000."-The Economist, London. (10)

February 1-Hundreds but "much less than 500" arrested in Tamil Nadu. February 4-Erasmo de Sequeira, M.P., estimated in Parliament that 100,000 political prisoners which the New York Times bureau in India said "was more than twice as high as estimates from independent sources" in New Delhi. February "The most reliable Opposition estimates, however, place the figure (of arrests) at around 100,000, whom 80,000 are said to remain in custody."Newsweek. (11)

March 13-Over 100 arrested in Gujarat.

April 26 "The most reliable estimates of the number now in jail vary between 30,000 and 75,000, although some Opposition figures charge that the number is as high as 150,000."-William Borders, The New York Times.

In this period, some persons-the total is unknown-have been released, either on parole or completely. Others are constantly being arrested. The number of persons arrested for political reasons since June 26, 1975 throughout India can conservatively be put as upwards of 50,000. Indeed, one occasionally hears the figure approaching 200,000 individuals.

The persons arrested fall into three or more classes: 1-leaders and members of the several Opposition political parties; 2-leaders of the 26 left- and rightwing extremist groups; and 3-some Gandhian workers. Initially, perhaps the majority of arrests were carried out against members of the Hindu nationalist Jana Sangh Party. Members of other parties involved included the Socialist Party, the Congress (0) Party, the Indian People's Party (Bharatiya Lok Del), and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). While few if any members of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in coalition with the ruling Congress (R) Party were detained, a few of the latter were placed under arrest. Also arrested were a number of leaders of the Opposition parties in the state legislatures, except in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. After July 4, 26 organizations were banned and many of their leaders and members arrested: the Rashtriya Sawayan Seva Sangh (RSSS), a paramilitary militant Hindu nationalist group; the Jamaat-e-Islami, a militant Muslim group; Anand Marg, a Hindu group; and 15 factions of the "Naxalites" or members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). Finally, some more militant Gandhians and other constructive workers were arrested, such as Radhakrishna, secretary of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and co-worker with J.P.

Of the personalities arrested, best known were J.P. and Morarji Desai, M.P., the latter the 79-year-old former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Congress (O). Among the 30 Members of Parliament arrested were Chandra Sekhar and Ram Dhan of the Congress. (R). Also arrested were Mr. L. K. Advani, President of the Jana Sangh; Charan Singh, Chairman of the Indian People's Party; and Jyotirmoy Bosu, M.P., leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The legal rights of detainees have been seriously eroded. They are picked up without being shown warrants of arrest. They-and their families-need not be informed of the grounds for their arrest. (Only the authorities themselves have to be satisfied that detention is necessary to safeguard the security of India.) They can be kept in detention for up to 12 months. They cannot be released on bail. If persons who are sought do not surrender, their property can. be attached. They cannot appeal to the courts. Indeed, they have difficulty reaching lawyers. A review of preventive detention cases cannot be made by an independent advisory board during the first 12 months of detention.

As for the treatment of detainees, this varies widely. Families as a rule do not initially know where the person arrested is being detained, since under existing censorship rules the names of detainees and the places of detention cannot be published. In some cases families are not permitted normal visits to their relatives in prison even if they know where they are. Some are even kept in solitary confinement, although preventive detention is not legally considered to be punishment for a crime.

Torture has been reported in the Tihar jail in Delhi and also in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a member of the Rajya Sabha, claimed in January that 8.000 prisoners had been tortured since the state of Emergency was declared. (12) Prof. Ved P. Nanda also writes about eye-witness accounts of torture: "The police applied crude means either

« ÎnapoiContinuă »