Gauri Lankesh News spoke to S.R. Hiremath, an anti-corruption activist on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Emergency in India. Below is the excerpt from the interview-
I have lived in the US for almost 11 years. I quit my job to dedicate myself to the upliftment of the economically and socially backward masses. Along with like-minded peers, on January 1, 1974, we started an organisation called “India Development”. To be able to aspire and achieve any humanitarian development, it is important to have an environment that understands and respects the democratic aspirations and values.
India played a significant role in the liberation of Bangladesh. Post that, we witnessed the emergence of Indira Gandhi’s totalitarianism and dictatorship. The empowerment of democratic institutions holds the key to uphold democratic ideals.
One of the early instances where we witnessed the arrival of the dictatorial trends of Indira Gandhi was when she appointed only such judges who would act on her words and pass such judgements to the key positions in Judiciary. People like AK Rai were chosen over three other top mosy Judges of the Supreme Court including – KS Hegde, father of Justice Santosh Hegde.
In those years, when I was in America I was observing the New York Times. I observed that a 6-page report on Jayaprakash Narayan (JP). At around the same time, UR Ananthamurthy also visited Chicago unexpectedly. We all met up with him and tried to understand what was happening in India. The Allahabad Court in June had suspended Indira Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership. It shook the government. A few other incidents also added to the emergency being imposed by Indira Gandhi. Basically, efforts were made to make our Constitution irrelevant by imposing a state of emergency. We then staged protests near the Indian embassy office at Washington. For voicing out the truth, our passports were canceled.
In today’s scenario, the courts have not shown any intent to understand and resolve the plight of our migrant workers. Even then the situation was the same. Judges who passed pro-people judgements were transferred. It was a situation where fundamental rights were being taken away. These really are dark days under Modi’s first and second term of governance. These times are atleast twenty times worse than the times of the emergency. Incarceration of intellectuals like Anand Teltumbde who uphold the constitutional principles of equality, brotherhood, and fraternity is a much larger attack on democracy than what was done under India Gandhi’s regime. Resistances must be built against such attacks on democracy and it must stem out of in-depth studies and research.
This government has stretched the working hours much longer and has also by suspended the labour laws for almost three years. We must confront these moves with the ideals set forth by Buddha, Basavanna, and Dr. Ambedkar. During the emergency, Jayaprakash Narayan(JP) had called on the youth under the popular slogan of Sampoorna Kranti or Total Revolution. This country needs young people inspired by the ideals of the Constitution to provide any meaning to our independence. JP brought all the opposition parties together to build a new one. However, the Janata Party broke down into fractions before his very eyes. This as well seems like a historical blunder.
The RSS, which did not even participate in the freedom struggle is today trying to take the country back to non-democratic ideals with its dangerous ideology. They are working to suppress the movements which uphold the Constitutional values and our National Flag. Congress was the reason for the genesis of economic inequality in India. But the BJP is taking it much further and deeper. However, we must move towards economic equality as proposed by Gandhi and E.F. Schumacher. We must take to annihilate caste as per the values put forth by Dr. Ambedkar. In my opinion, the soul of this country lies with its self-sacrificing saints. They have spread the meaning of life and our civilizational values and heritage to our people. Political parties should walk through this path. However, today’s political parties have failed to retain people’s confidence in them.
Edited by: Anil Kumar Chikkadalavatta
(Taken from the long interviews of SR Hiremath with Author & Publisher Basavaraja Sulibavi. The interview is available on the website naanugauri.com for viewing)
Translated into English by Shashank SR