Friday, 9 November 2007

Indira’s Emergency Recalled – 2

Indira’s Emergency Recalled – 2

The Emergency (1975-77) imposed by India Gandhi made a mark of state terrorism, but with difference; it targeted the elite. It became a landmark of decadence. As I said before, it didn’t make even a ripple among the tribal and peasants, because they had/have nothing to loose. It, as usual, was born out of insecurity of those who held centralized power. However the seeds of terrorism have always been dormant in the pre-independence eras.

There have been other examples of state terrorism that targeted the people who protested the policies and practices, for example, the protest of the farmers against the compensation to be paid for land acquisition for the Thal-Vaishet project by the Government of Maharashtra when some farmers were shot dead. There are many more examples.

Indira’s Emergency also made a way for other forms of terrorism, widespread across the country in the following years, which continues till now. Terrorists’ attacks on public and private properties including one on the Parliament, the communal riots, and atrocities by the Naxalite, etc. are considered as criminal acts against the society at large. The glaring examples are the riots in Gujarat and the turmoil of peasants in Nandigram, which is burning on the eve of Divali - the festival of lights - in West Bengal, where one may question the role of the state. The tribal and the peasants are increasingly displaced from their homestead and/or are forced to commit suicides by the strong-arm of money-market-political powers.

All these acts of terrorism are initiated, managed and manipulated by the elite in high places. Their weapons as well as targets are ‘common’ people, or the second class citizens, who blindly fall for the incitement by those who hold power to create unrest and disrupt people, thereby the society at large.

But their real weapons that come handy are the widespread poverty, illiteracy, social-economic disparity and the lack of education in the fast changing environment. The root cause is the glaring lack of civic sense and hygiene – physical, mental and spiritual – at personal and collective levels, from the top to bottom – from princes/presidents/prime ministers to the paupers on a street. No occupation or profession or vocation or institution is an exception. To find an exception, we may have to search with microscope in the present fragmented and decadent global society.

At an individual level I neither can vouch for others nor for myself. While I was practicing as an architect planner I realized then, and later, how many holes I must have made in an ozone layer in my sphere! A sin, for example, committed in architecture (shelter?) and planning could be comparable to the mythical idea of Original Sin (see: Bible), which can never be absolved. The damage done to Life and to Mother Earth is permanent. Look at devastated Chernobyl!

Perhaps a simplistic answer to a question of civic sense and hygiene is to restore community, not communality; to restore plurality not dogmatic polarity; to restore holistic, not deductive, view of life; to restore leisure, not speedy pleasures; to restore universal education, not fragmented information; to recycle people’s time-tested wisdom, not graft compartmentalized expertise… You can go on adding to this litany: all issues address to civic sense and hygiene at local to global level. Industrialization has failed to supply quality to living is already proved beyond doubt.

Remigius de Souza

Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA
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