Remembering the day on which the dark era of democracy began

Anagha Telang

The day of June 26, is considered very important in the calendar of Indian history. It is not another date which passed in the year 1975. The dark period of ‘Emergency’ started on this day after the proclamation of article 352 of the Indian constitution by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with the approval of President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. This decision is considered a controversial one and is mainly believed that P.M. Gandhi used this provision for her personal benefit by hiding it under the benefit of country.

The emergency period of India is called as the black era of the nation as it completely hampered the heart & soul of the democracy. Media also lost all its rights and privileges through censorship and faced a period of trouble and disturbance.

Keeping in mind the importance of this date Makahanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and communication, Bhopal, a pioneer institute in the field of media studies,  organised a conference on the topic: ‘Emergency, Democracy, and Media’ on Tuesday in college campus itself.

To present views and share personal experiences the university invited Harendra pratap a renowned thinker and writer from Patna as the chief Guest. Along with him Prafful Ketkar was invited as the main speaker in the conference. The university Vice-Chancellor Jagdish Upasne was the chairperson of the event.  

The programme started with lightning of the lamp and garlanding the portrait of goddess Saraswati, Bharat Mata and Pandit Makahanlal Chaturvedi. The speakers and guests were welcomed by the V.C. along with the university Rector Lajpat Ahuja, Registrar Prof. Sanjay Dwivedi nd other faculty members.

“Democracy has many other threats other than emergency…”

The main speaker of the event Prafful Ketkar, editor of ‘Organiser’ in his speech his told about the provision of emergency in the Indian Constitution and how in the year 1975 emergency was proclaimed in the country without the approval of the cabinet. He also told that the symptoms of emergency started showing from 12 June. Gujarat & Bihar were the two states which contributed a lot in the proclamation of emergency. According to Ketkar emergency brought out the concept of Nepotism in the Indian political scenario and institutionalised corruption began from this period. Along with this he also highlighted the role of women during the emergency period as they faced the police and sent food along with important news and information to the prisoners.  He believe that if any person for his personal benefit uses the constitutional provisions then that is emergency. Prafful also believe that the democracy has many other threats also and the role of media is to highlight these threats and problems and make people aware. Media should also make the public aware about other important provisions of the constitution in order to make the democracy strong.

“Youth should not be greedy for power & position…”

The chief Guest of the event Harendra Pratap who himself is a major survivor of the emergency period as he was an important face in the student movement of Jai Prakash Narayan and was also behind the bars that time shared his experiences and how emergency effected lives of so many people.

He in his speech expressed his firm opinion that the scenario of emergency started immediately after the country got independence but in reality came in force in the year 1975.  He strongly criticised Indira Gandhi for this decision as it destroyed the country very badly. He recalled the day when open firing was done in the city of Patna and so many lives got affected through it. Being an eye witness of that time Pratap remembered the scenario of the country and said only those media organisation survived who preferred buttering. While concluding his speech Harendra Said that today’s youth should be alert and must never run behind power and position and if this greed will enter their heart then democracy will face a huge loss and will stand in the trap of danger.

The chairperson of the event and the V.C. of the university Jagdish Upasne also recalled the day emergency was proclaimed in the country and how the dark era began. For him the time has passed just with the blink of an eye. He remembers how people use to talk with statue of the congress politicians in Delhi and use to curse them. He remember how people ignored the screening of the most popular film of that time Bobby on DD and went to Ramleela Maidan to support JP’s movement. The minister of Information & Broadcasting censored the media completely. He himself use to work as a journalist and recalled his time in the city of Raipur during the emergency period. His brother was put behind the bars. He commented on all those who criticise the misuse of constitution and the proclamation of emergency in the present time and believe that all these people can’t even imagine the situation during that time. He was also in jail for 16 months. Upanse compared the emergency period with the revolution of 1857. He also stated that so many families and lives were completely destroyed due to this one decision. In his concluding lines he stated that anyone can become a dictator it is the duty of the citizens to be aware and responsible. If a nation forgets about history it will never develop and it is the duty of the media to make the society aware and responsible.

Vote of thanks was given by Rector Ljapat Ahuja and the comparing of the programme was done by Professor Sanjay Dviwedi, Registrar.

In a talk with our reporter Prafful Ketkar, who calls himself an accidental Journalist said

“Journalism and Academics walk hand in hand. I myself have landed in the field of media from academics. I use to work as investigator, surveyor, and reporter on different issues and then landed in main stream media. In the present time anybody can become a journalist all they need is thorough research and that spark. Media is a reflection of the youth today and youth play a major role in building the society. In the present time social media has brought in a revolution and has challenged the print and electronic media.

Harendra Pratap said

“Media has changed a lot. In our times print media and radio were the only sources. Media in the present time has become huge, privatisation and social media has expanded the scope of media. Information and news can’t be controlled and therefore the concept of censorship is difficult in the present time and if done so it would bring in a revolution.

When asked about his opinion on role of youth in democracy he said

“Social media is helping the youth to work towards democracy and today without any formal orgainsation youth can work for the development of the democracy. Youth must be a bit attentive and should come out from the virtual world of internet. Social media is definitely helping but it is not necessary to be dependent on it. Youth has the power to maintain and increase the status of democracy and bring in development.”

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