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                               Chant India First; Duties First
 
(Indira Gandhi-Edited Image Courtesy: inc.in)
 
June is the month when rights-obsessed democrats start bemoaning infamous Internal Emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi on 25th June 1975. They write columns and give interviews, criticizing the ‘darkest chapter’ in India’s post-Independence history. They want to periodically refresh an aura around themselves for having gone to jail just like the freedom fighters during the British Raj.
This June is no different. While berating the Emergency, BJP mentor L.K. Advani, has voiced apprehensions about the unnamed forces that have the potential to impose emergency in the future. The Opposition interpreted it as a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Modi has so far been over-cautious in taking a stand on contentious political issues and has thus harmed his image as a tough taskmaster.
Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley found time during his on-going visit to the US to chip in his comment on the issue.  Mr. Jaitley, who had last year too blogged on the issue, had dubbed emergency as “the worst post independence chapter of the Indian democracy.”
Such repeated, scathing criticism of Emergency and selective recall of developments during that 19-month period is distorting history. It is giving a wrong impression to the people who were too young or were not born at that time.
Unlike visionary PM late Rajiv Gandhi, neither his wife nor his progeny nor the Congress Party have the courage to put 1975 Emergency in perspective.
The timing for imposition of Internal Emergency was horribly wrong. It coincided with the adverse outcome of electoral litigation that left Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s survival as PM & as parliamentarian hanging by thread. 
No one can dispute the well-known facts that fundamental rights were suspended. The Judiciary, the Press and other institutions were maimed or made pliable or simply acquiesced in to diktats. Without contesting such sordid happenings, this column would focus on the good developments that happened during the Emergency. It would also give certain background of the Emergency that jailed leaders don’t talk as that would puncture their sacrifice balloon. 
During the Internal Emergency, India briefly got transformed from a nation of queue jumpers to a mass of disciplined people. One could not believe the sight of people queuing up at bus stands in Delhi to board DTC buses! Urchins and criminals went underground or started behaving like good citizens due to fear of arrest without any explanation.
It appeared the country had finally started imbibing the spirit of national discipline, which has been the key to re-building of great countries such as Japan, South Korea, Germany and China after World War-II.
An average citizen, who desires peace, felt secure during the Internal Emergency, which was imposed as a top-up to the continuing 1971 emergency that was promulgated due to external threat to the country.  From common person’s standpoint, peace, security and healthy work environment are more important than the right to incessantly run down the Government as exercised by the Opposition parties and certain NGOs.
After the promulgation of Emergency, prices of essential commodities declined as speculators and adulterators exercised self-restraint under the fear of the long arm of authoritarianism.
It was a certain instances of coercion and botched sterilization surgeries that created mass resentment towards cajoled-&-coerced vasectomy (male sterilization) and the Emergency. The record on this count would also be set right later in this column.
The Emergency witnessed a flurry of amendments to the Constitutions, laws and rules for strengthening of authoritarianism. One of the positive and perhaps the most meaningful alteration ever made to the Constitution was incorporation of ten fundamental duties of citizens under article 51A, Part IVA of the Constitution.
Shah Commission, which probed Emergency excesses including misuse of legislative action, overlooked this historic development.  In its interim report-I dated 11th March 1978, Shah Commission merely recorded the fact that “the Constitution was extensively amended by 59 clauses” through the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment Act, 1976.
Mrs. Gandhi’s critics always refrain from mentioning that it was Emergency that tried to awaken the public towards their duties towards the society and the Nation. The duties are collectively designed to facilitate emergence of democratic and inclusive society. 
As pertinently observed by National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) in March 2002, “After the end of the Emergency, when the new Parliament reviewed the whole position and in most cases restored the pre-emergency position, article 51A was one that emerged unscathed because it was considered by all parties to be an unexceptionable charter of principles which citizens could usefully absorb and practice.”
NCRWC not only recommended addition of two more duties to the List but a slew of other initiatives to prod citizens to perform their fundamental duties. Successive Governments have failed to implement NCRWC’s recommendations. 
Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government, however, added 11th duty relating to child education in the Constitution in 2002. It has not yet been made effective. 
Fundamental duties have got crushed under the combined onslaught of populism-driven political class, judicial activism, shoot-&-scoot journalism and civil rights entities. 
Post emergency, the opinion leaders have fanned a rights revolution among the masses to the extent of pushing the country towards chaos. How many policemen are injured or killed by members of public today? How many murders are taking place in the country? What is the extent of communal and caste violence? How many women are teased, molested or raped? Are these ‘democratic excesses’ better than hyped emergency excesses? 
A diligent search for each of these crimes on the Google would throw up shocking cases. It would make any nationalist wonder whether we are living in democracy or jungle raj? 
It is here pertinent to quote NCRWC’s consultative paper ‘Effectuation of Fundamental Duties of Citizens’ issued in July 2001. The paper says: “The Fundamental Rights in Part III, the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV and the Fundamental Duties in Part IVA form a compendium and have to be read together.”
Supreme Court should make this as a fundamental principle for disposing of Public Interest Litigations (PILs).
How many PIL-driven verdicts have been delivered on the basis of such holistic interpretation of the Constitution? Has there been any content analysis of PIL verdicts? 
A Supreme Court verdict that was delivered more than six years before incorporation of fundamental duties in the Constitution should be permanently ingrained in the mind of rights activists & short-sighted politicians.  
The verdict dated 29th September 1969 relating to a case relating to minimum wages says: “It is a fallacy to think that under our Constitution there are only rights and no duties. While rights conferred under Part III are fundamental, the directives given under Part IV are fundamental in the governance of the country. We see no conflict on the whole between the provisions contained in Part III and Part IV. They are complementary and supplementary to each other. The provisions of Part IV enable the legislatures and the Government to impose various duties on the citizens. The provisions therein are deliberately made elastic because the duties to be 
imposed on the citizens depend on the extent to which the directive principles are implemented.” 
The rights versus duties debate was aptly put in perspective by Mahatma Gandhi, whose name and statutes are used by politicians to perk up their images including selfies. 
NCRWC’s consultative paper has quoted Gandhiji as saying “The true source of right is duty.  If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek.  If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like will-o-the-wist, the more we pursue them, the farther they will fly”.
This observation is more valid today with the masses obsessed with junoon (madness/passion) that can perhaps be described as “Mera Hak Mahan; Mera Hak Sabse Pehle.” (My right is great; it comes first).”  Anyone can feel the heat of this junoon on the roads of National Capital Region. Law violators abuse, attack and often falsely accuse traffic policemen  of soliciting bribes.  
In places like Noida, driving head-on in the wrong lane is the deemed traffic rule, as it is in the whole of Uttar Pradesh. If you question anyone driving head-on and flashing light in your eyes, you run the risk of getting abused or thrashed. 
Visualize this junoon dispassionately and intelligently in diverse situations. After such analysis, a common man would probably wonder whether the country is slipping into conditions that would necessitate imposition of emergency.
This reminds me of Late Rajiv Gandhi’s reply to a question on Emergency put in his maiden press conference way back in July1985. Here is the question and answer.
Question: Mr. Prime Minister, it is exactly ten years after the emergency. Do you think at this stage that the declaration of emergency was the right step to have been taken and if similar conditions of unrest prevail, will you resort to the same measures?
Answer: I think at this time it was the right step and there were various forces working. If those conditions are repeated, it might be necessary to have an Emergency. But that will have to be seen with the conditions that prevail. There can be no absolutely equivalent act, there cannot be a equivalent situation. Things will be different. I, personally, am not in favour of using such harsh measures if they can be avoided. But, if it is necessary, they must be used.
And to know the conditions that led to imposition of Internal Emergency, Listen to what the then Home Minister, K. Brahmananda Reddy said in Rajya Sabha on 21st July 1975 while moving the statutory resolution seeking the House’s approval for proclamation of Emergency.  
Mr. Reddy said: “Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, with the assistance of other parties which I just now mentioned had undertaken a tour of several States and exhorted the people towards not only no-tax campaign, civil disobedience, incitement to police, etc. but also towards, what he called, a total revolution.”
He continued: “In my opinion, Shri Jayaprakash Narayan did not, confine his activities to the limits of a political movement. He repeatedly made insinuations and provided incitement to the police and armed forces to disobey the orders of the constituted authority in statements made in various places at various meetings all over the country. He had been urging that a time might come when he would give a call to the police and the Armed Forces to revolt. On the 25th June, 1975, in a meeting at the Ramlila Grounds, he, while appealing to the Army, policemen and Government employees not to obey orders which they consider illegal and against their conscience, reminded them that the time to which he has been referring would come, an obvious reference to the time when he would ask the policemen and the Armed Forces to revolt.”
Mr. Reddy added: “Now the effort to undermine the loyalty of the police and military in particular was deeply sinister, and in the light of the appreciative references to and acclamation of the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary of UP) revolt by those political forces, one can easily envisage the disastrous consequences that would have resulted if these moves to interfere with the loyalty of the police and the armed forces were allowed to continue.”
Two more facts need to be recalled to put the Emergency in proper perspective. These are:
-Only 29795 persons were detained during the Emergency under Section 16A Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). In such cases, no reasons for arrest were furnished to detenus. Another 6244 persons were detained under normal provisions of MISA. Another 46599 persons were arrested under Defence and Internal Security of India Rules. 
Thus the total number of persons arrested was 82638 as per answer given by Home Minister Late Charan Singh in reply to Parliament question dated 16th June 1977. This number is significantly lower than 1.1 lakh arrests mentioned by Mr. Advani in his recent interview to the Indian Express. 
-Only 207 persons out of 1.057 crore sterilized persons during July1975-March 1977 died duty post-surgery complications, according to reply given by Janata regime Health Minister late Raj Narain in response to parliament question dated 22nd June 1997. 
The number of such unfortunate deaths after different surgeries in a year in the present era is perhaps more in spite of improvement in healthcare services over the last four decades. The vasectomy deaths were much smaller than number of policemen lynched by mobs or killed by naxalities in a year under the present-day disharmony induced by rights-obsessed activists.
We can dig out more facts from official records. The history of Emergency has to be written by holistic-approach professionals and not by politicians. 
Time has, however, come for politicians to stop beating the ghost of emergency. They should create conditions that would obviate the need for imposition of emergency. To do that, they have to put India first and fundamental duties first. 
Will they ever join hands for development of Mera Bharat?
 
Published by taxindiaonline.com on 25th June 2015
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