The word “Emergency” brings two important names to mind—Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her principal adversary, Jayaprakash Narayan (JP). The former had depicted JP as the villain of the piece and put the entire blame for the declaration of Emergency on the movement led by him. The booklet titled “Why Emergency?” a “white paper” on Emergency presented to Parliament on 21 July 1975, barely a month after its proclamation, brings this out.
The aftermath of the incident in South Kashmir, where a civilian was tied in front of an Army vehicle to protect the polling staff from a large stone-throwing crowd, has been discussed threadbare, and is being continually attended to by an over-enthusiastic media. As stated by the officer leading the Army detachment, the move exhibited innovation and initiative in a dire situation, despite its oblique connotations. The obvious alternatives may have been worse and heart-rending.
India’s much awaited ratification of ILO Conventions 138 and 182—which, respectively, provide the minimum age of 18 years for employment and prohibits work likely to jeopardise health, safety and morals of young persons and the worst forms of child labour including slavery like practices, trafficking and bonded labour etc.—have been most appropriately applauded by child rights activists, including our friend, the Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.