The country is reminded about JP today as never before. There is hopelessness and despair all around. Corruption has become a monster and people want change at all cost. Anna movement galvanized the nation against corruption but could not translate the support into an organized movement for social change. This book will guide and inspire those who want to become the instrument of change.
It is a moving history about JP how he came into the movement despite his failing health. Noted poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar prayed to Lord Tirupati that test of life be given to JP to lead the movement. Dinkar died in the lap of JP in Ramnath Goenka's house and thus was born the JP Movement.
The deep-dark period of autocracy (1975-77) in India. Those were month of draconian laws, extinguished freedom, Gestapo-type arrest, severe Press censorship, forced sterilization and abject surrender marked by terror of the of the minions and slavery of the elites that made India a fascist-type police state.
The return of the sunlight of democracy due largely to the defiance of a 73-year old Jayaprakash Narayan, a congenital democrat. The Emergency was not only the defeat JP and his movement against corruption, inflation and misruled, but also of the entire population that loved freedom. The state power of Indira Gandhi lost whereas the moral authority if JP won.
Vulnerability of India's institutions of governance and how effectively the President, Union Cabinet, Parliament, Supreme Court, Governors, State Assemblies, senior civil servants, police and intelligence agencies and the Press were manipulated by a dictatorial prime minister and exploited by her 'unprincipled' son.
New perspective on the movement in view of the classified papers accessed by the author.
MG Devasahayam is an Economist-Administrator with a distinguished career spanning over four decades. He has first-hand experience in the working of Indian Army, Government (IAS), public & Private Sector, Political System and Non Governmental Organizations. He has worked closely with Mother Teresa and Jayaprakash Narayan, which he considers as the greatest achievement of his life.
During the Emergency (1975-77), when JP was imprisoned at Chandigarh, Devasahayam was District Magistrate of the Union Territory and a such was JP's 'custodian in jail'. During this period, he met JP almost on a daily basis and developed a warm relationship with him that sustained even after the Emergency and lasted till JP, the architect of 'India's Second Freedom', passed away in October 1979.
The author is a thinker, analyst, public speaker and water. Several of his articles have been published in newspapers across the county and other prestigious publications. The thrust in his writing has been governance, reforms, resource efficiency and issues such as freedom, democracy and corruption.
The term 'Emergency' that symbolised India's descent from democracy to dictatorship three-and-a-half decades ago has made a grand re-entry into middle class drawing rooms, specially amongst youth. What is significant is that the reference to Emergency is being made by a generation for whom it was an era in the distant past. They did not experience its excesses, nor would have cared about it till a short while ego. Now they do.
Soon after declaration of Emergency in June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi placed a document "Why Emergency?" before Parliament. This 'white paper' depicted Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) as the villain and put the entire blame for declaration of Emergency on the mass movement that he led.
It is time, therefore, to remember Winston Churchill's famous words: "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." The purpose of this book is to provide the learning about JP Movement and the dark days of Emergency, which are inexorably intertwined with the sunshine of India's second freedom.
The trigger for bringing back memories of Emergency is Anna Hazare's middle-class surge with a generous sprinkle of youth demanding the enactment of stringent Jan Lokpallegislation to combat the massive seams and corruption that have engulfed the country and have led to public fury. Anna went on a 12-day fast at Ramlila grounds, with a few thousand crowds in attendance, and made Parliament pass a 'Sense of the House' resolution to draft a 'practical, implementable and constitutional' Lokpal Bill and enact the same into law within a short period of time. This was preceded by an aborted fast by yoga guru, Baba Ramdev at the same venue.
In contrast, during the seventies, JP led a most massive anti-government rnoverncnr India has ever seen on the issues of corruption, price-rise and unemployment-concerns similar to the present ones that brought people to the streets. This movement culminated in the very same Ramlila grounds on the evening of25 June 1975 under the auspices of Janata Morcha wherein more than a million people participated. Addressing the rally, JP said that a 'grave situation' had arisen in the country due to rampant corruption and called for mass action. After giving out the call 'sinhasan khali karo janata aa rahi hai' (vacate the throne, people are coming), JP warned the Country against the 'threat of fascism posed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's actions'.
Mrs Gandhi responded exactly as JP predicted-imposed Emergency in the country that extinguished democracy and replaced it with her brand of dictatorship. During midnight hours almost all leading lights of India's political spectrum-JP, Morarji Desai, Atal Behari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Chandra Shekhar, Piloo Mody etc.- were arrested under Defence of India Rules and whisked away to secretive places!
Minor variants of repressive acts of this period (25 June 1975 and 21 March 1977) were reenacted on 16 August 2011 at Delhi's Ramlila grounds when in a desperate demonstration of panicked overreaction, the UPA Government let loose the Delhi Police to arrest Anna Hazare and leaders of his anti-corruption movement to pre-empt their protest fast. Just a day after India celebrated its 65th Independence Day, Indian democracy once again stood defiled. The Opposition and social activists were quick to point out that the crackdown was reminiscent of Emergency. But the Spontaneous and angry reaction of the people courting arrests all over the country gave a clear warning to the government that the people are determined to ensure that those dark days do not revisit India.
Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare have done a commendable job in rousing people's dormant conscience against corruption and misrule and prodding government into possible action. But portraying these as 'second freedom struggle' is bizarre and preposterous. This goes against the very grain of freedom and 'people's movement'. Touting such a line indicates either total lack of knowledge of country's post-independence history-JP Movement, Emergency, extinction of Freedom and its restoration through massive people's power-in the seventies or a deliberate attempt to suppress historical facts that ushered in India's real second freedom.
50 the true history of Emergency and India's second freedom need to be told in authentic terms. That precisely is the purpose of this book and it is for the readers to make their own informed judgement.
Every political movement has a reference point. The French Revolution had Marie Antoinettes quip 'Let them eat cake'; the American war of independence was imbued by the idea of republicanism and Fidel Castro's famous 'Condemn me! It does not matter, history will absolve me' during the 1953 trial had Cubans up in arms. All of them ended successfully. According to leading social scientists, there are only two reference points for contemporary India-national movement for independence and Emergency. One associated with liberation, the other with totalitarianism. National movement is the memory of what should be done and Emergency of what should not be done. To them "what is happening now is a cheap imitation of those intense years of the seventies."
Those 'intense years of the seventies' turned out to be a battle between the forces of Autocracy and Democracy. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the icon of Autocracy and 'Sarvodaya' leader Jayaprakash Narayan was the icon of Democracy. For a brief while-June 1975 to March 1977 autocracy triumphed, with the country under active state of Emergency. But in the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation that ensued between the two icons during the Emergency-time election in March 1977 the latter UP) won thereby restoring democracy in the country. This was real 'second freedom' and I have been a witness, indeed a participant in these 'intense years'.
Foreword On the night of 25 June 1975 and the wee hours of the 26th, Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency and Bharat's democracy entered a dark era. The dictatorial Prime Minister suspended all fundamental rights on the flimsy ground of an imagined revolution against the state. Loknayak, as JP was fondly called, was arrested and sent to Haryana. From there, he was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on 29 June due to his failing health. The need for specialized medical care finally forced the state to take him to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh on 1 July. His ordeal was lessened there because of a compassionate young District Magistrate, MG Devasahayam, who would talk hours with JP and discuss various social and political issues facing the country.
Devasahayam was JP's custodian in jail. He was responsible for JP's security arrangements, monitoring of his health, screening of visitors, and keeping the Central Government informed about JP's situation. He met him almost on a daily basis.
While most of the things he did came by way of a call of duty as a bureaucrat, he seized the opportunity to talk to one of the greatest souls of Bharat at a time that became a turning point in the history of the country. Instead of treating JP as a guest of the government, he looked up to him as a man who had inspired millions of people to take up the cudgels for their rights. For him, JP was an embodiment of the ideas and ideals that Gandhiji instilled in those who fought for our freedom.
The result was the natural absorbing conversations that make several chapters of this book. JP comes through as a man surprised at the intensity of the reaction that he had produced. From a low point, he gradually recovered his old self, and in spite of his ill health, showed the determination to right the wrong that was done to Bharat.
Through Devasahayam, we hear fascinating glimpses of JP's association with Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and his turbulent relationship with the former. JP discusses the political leaders like Kamraj, and dissects the events that led to the imposition of Emergency. In jail, he hones his strategy to unite opposition parties for elections. He weeps for the people of Bihar, devastated by floods.
The Emergency was imposed to crush anti-corruption movement led by JP. The movement also epitomized the combined anger of people against price-rise and misrule of the then Congress government and a clamour for empowerment and answers to their pitiable existence.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the flamboyant daughter of a democrat father, undermined democratic institutions and norms, debased politics, allowed corruption to assume unprecedented proportions and victimized those who stood for principles and integrity. This has been the single most important cause of the relentless putrefaction of Bharat's public life from the time of the Emergency and the country's descent into 'Kleptocracy'.
JP was a Titan. His life exemplified the ethos of idealism and he generously worked for the welfare of the people as a legendary freedom fighter, a Socialist party worker, a leader of the Sarvodaya movement, a peacemaker in Nagaland, and the conscience of Bharat in the 1970s, before, during and after the Emergency. He emerged as the tallest figure in the history of modern Bharat post-Independence.
jP's personality was ever youthful and had the determination of never say die attitude. That is the reason I feel he was found experimenting and learning from experiences. He was not captive of any dogma or fetters of ideologies and was keen to correct himself and move forward in the thought process. He never harboured any illusion that he was all knowledgeable and that he was the last word on every subject. He always would learn from young activists.
In the first decade of the post-independence era he realized that the constructive plank of the movement should not be neglected and got engaged in productive activities in northern Bihar be it part of Saharsa or Musahari in Saharan district. He integrated the ethos of Marxism and socialism into more comprehensive ethics-based ideology of Sarvodaya. His courage can be estimated by his response at a particular stage that 'if the Jan Sangh is fascist, then Jayaprakash Narayan is also a fascist'. Only such magnanimity could bring together a variety of political forces, Right or Left notwithstanding, and fine tune it into a viable, successful and political weapon to defeat the authoritarian forces. He had told the ultra Left that 'you may not agree with me on non-violence as a principle but understanding the challenges of the time the Leftist should strategically shun violence and adhere to peaceful means for national reconstruction'.
When he was the member of the Congress Party, he attempted to ensure that it kept to the ideals of socialism. We remember him as the daring revolutionary who escaped from jail and went underground during the 1942 Quit India Movement, and then underwent hideous torture in Lahore jail on being captured. We remember him as the socialist stalwart who suddenly walked out of electoral politics into the Sarvodaya movement, fashioning a philosophy centered on Gram Swaraj and the politics of 'people's power'. His aim was to work for the common man.
Then, suddenly in the mid-1970s when gloom pervaded the country, this 73-year-old man became the beacon of hope for a disenchanted nation. A new generation listened to his indictment of the corruption and misrule of the then Indira Gandhi Government. And thus started the maelstrom that came to be known as the JP movement. It shook the polity to its core and forced its regeneration through a mass upsurge. The JP Movement was at its most impressive and the strongest in Bihar. The movement had the support of the entire spectrum of non-Congress political parties, barring the Communists.
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