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Understanding Indira Gandhi Beyond the Emergency

Eminent citizens including filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt get together to pay their tributes to the late Indira Gandhi.

Updated
India
2 min read
Panelists at the event to celebrate the birth centenary of Indira Gandhi.
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Prominent citizens, politicians and journalists came together on Saturday in Mumbai to celebrate the birth centenary year of Indira Gandhi. The event titled People’s Tribute to Indira had filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, former Governor Ram Pradhan and senior journalist Kumar Ketkar in attendance.

This tribute to India’s third Prime Minister included highlighting her contributions such as the Bank Nationalisation in 1969, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 and India’s achievements in the fields of science and technology.

Mahesh Bhatt speaking at <i>People’s Tribute to Indira.</i>
Mahesh Bhatt speaking at People’s Tribute to Indira.
(Photo: The Quint)
Speaking on the occasion, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt read out a few pages from Pupul Jayakar’s biography of J Krishnamurti that has passages on Indira Gandhi, and recalled how he got an entirely new perspective about the late Congress leader through the book.

Both senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and journalist Kumar Ketkar spoke to The Quint about the need to view and perceive Indira Gandhi’s personality beyond the Emergency.

Jairam Ramesh speaks at the event as Kumar Ketkar looks on.
Jairam Ramesh speaks at the event as Kumar Ketkar looks on.
(Photo: The Quint)
“The Emergency is a very controversial decision and I feel personally it was an error of judgement. But having said that in January 1977, Indira Gandhi lifted the Emergency partially, called for elections and lost the elections and Emergency was lifted. The Emergency remains a part of our political history. Unfortunately, what the Emergency did in some ways was to give democratic credentials to people who are fundamentally anti-democratic and when today’s Prime Minister and today’s Finance Minister and the RSS claim to be champions of democracy, it is I think laughable.”
Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Sabha MP
“The only thing that has been criticised or been reassessed or assessed is the Emergency. But it is not as if she was born for Emergency or she wanted to declare Emergency ever since she became Prime Minister. She became Prime Minister in 1966 and the Emergency came in 1975, but the tendency in the political commentator class is to only highlight Emergency and not to highlight what happened between 1966 and 1975 and again between 1977 and 1979 when Janata Party ruled and between 1980 to 1984 till she was killed.”
Kumar Ketkar, Senior Journalist

Former governor and bureaucrat Ram Pradhan, who worked with both Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi spoke about the importance and influence of Nehruvian values on him and his generation and its importance today.

(This story was first published on 4 November 2017. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi)

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