The other day it was June 25, yet another anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. What did we witness in intellectual circles to mark this sombre occasion? Did we see reflection and remembrance, a renewed condemnation of those who did this terrible deed and tributes paid to those who fought for our nation’s democracy at its darkest hour?
Of course not. Instead, we had a circus, a flood of articles and sermons from “intellectuals” talking about how things in India today are the same as the days of the Emergency. A lot of these articles were written sitting in living rooms of million dollar mansions in Delhi’s most upscale neighbourhoods, accusing the present government of crushing “dissent”. If any of these clowns managed to see the irony of the situation, they surely did not show it.
Their most favourite term; the so-called ‘undeclared Emergency’. A term that is paradoxical and meaningless on the face of it, like a ‘square circle’ or ‘neutral patrakar’.
I do not wish to engage directly with the arguments of these clowns, especially because they haven’t presented any. As Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them’.
And just as Jefferson prescribed, ‘Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions‘.
So I am going to do just that. I will explain to you what these clowns are doing by quoting an exchange from the classic American sitcom Seinfeld.
In this scene, the lead character Jerry Seinfeld arrives at a car rental outlet to discover that the agent does not have the car that he had reserved well in advance. Here is how Jerry handles the situation:
Jerry: I don’t understand. I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
Rental Car Agent: Yes, we do. Unfortunately, we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car… See, you know how to *take* the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.
And that folks, is what is wrong with the idea of ‘undeclared Emergency’. The most important part of the Emergency is to actually declare it, to put Opposition leaders in jail, “preventive arrests” of dissenters and censorship of the press. You know, like this:
Without that, there’s no Emergency.
The clowns who talk about ‘undeclared Emergency’ do not live under an Emergency. If they did, they would be in jail.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.