20 September 2018
QM South Asia Forum
1 November 2018
Speaker, Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University.
Lecture Abstract: On the night of June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India, suspending constitutional rights and rounding up her political opponents in midnight raids across the country. In the twenty-one harrowing months that followed, her regime unleashed a brutal campaign of coercion and intimidation, arresting and torturing people by the tens of thousands, razing slums, and imposing compulsory sterilization on the poor. In spite of this searing experience, the Emergency has received little historical study. Stripping away the comfortable myth that this authoritarian turn was a momentary episode brought on entirely by Indira's crisis of power, this paper argues that the political crisis was long in the making and was a turning point in the history of India’s democracy. It focuses on the stories of the imprisonment of leaders to illustrate how this moment raised searching questions about the meanings of public and personal freedom.
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