Cover image for Indira Gandhi, the "emergency", and Indian democracy
Indira Gandhi, the "emergency", and Indian democracy
Dhar, P. N. (Prithvi Nath)
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Publication Information:
New Delhi ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xii, 424 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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DS480.852 .D43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The 1970s were a tumultuous decade in the Indian subcontinent. Indira Gandhi dominated the political arena like Colossus. Bangladesh came into existence and Sikkim merged with India. India and Pakistan fought a decisive war that we followed by a peace agreement at Simla which had all theappearance of permanence. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mujibur Rehman, Indira Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan - the subcontinent's leading politicians - all reached towering heights of success and depths of defeat at about this time.P N Dhar was head of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's secretariat for most of the momentous years. In this book he provides an insider's account of the major political events, decisions and personalities that make up the 1970s.This is the first book to carry a detailed account of confidential negotiations between Indira Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan during the 'Emergency'. It also deals with the economic and political developments that fed into Indira Gandhi's infamous declaration of an 'Emergency'. It provides a closepicture of Mrs Gandhi's emotional trauma in relation to the Bangladesh refugee problem and the Bangladesh war, and later in relation to her son Sanjay Gandhi. In its account of the confidential negotiations between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto over the Simla Agreement, it offer unrecordedinformation which is hugely controversial and hotly disputed. Its delineation of Sikkim's relations with Indira since Nehru's time, culminating in the Indian takeover of that states, is the most lucid, comprehensive and cogent account of that controversial political event. Its analysis of thenature of Indian democracy - from the secularism linked to the Nehru dynasty to the Mandal issue associated with VP Singh to the Hindu religiosity of the BJP under AB Vajpayee - is similarly marked by clarity, learning and reasoned argument.As an economist and intellectual who strayed into the highest level of Indian political life after an academic career in Kashmir, Peshawar and Delhi, Professor Dhar's recollections also have much to offer on Sheikh Abdullah's Kashmir, undivided India's north-west, and Indian academic life andculture. He has an unerring eye for the hidden fact - the buried detail which alters the received history. His political memories are marked by a combination of historical knowledge, analytic insight, and literary flair that is rare in Indian political literature.

Author Notes

P N Dhar was head of Indira Gandhi's prime ministerial secretariat. Before that he was Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics, and Director, Institute of Economic Growth.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a towering figure on the Indian scene long before the death of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1964, right through to her own assassination in 1984, serving as premier for three consecutive terms (1966-77) and then a fourth (1980-84). Dhar (formerly economics, Delhi School of Economics), a Kashmiri Pandit who was head of Mrs. Gandhi's secretariat and a close personal adviser, has now published an insider's record of those tumultuous years. This is a deeply serious account of and meditation on the crucial Gandhi years by a man who was at the very heart of decision making. There is no precise American equivalent to the position he held, which perhaps comes closest to cabinet secretary in Great Britain. Dhar is acutely aware of the dangers that his country faces, then and now, particularly the "dissonance between the rapid politicization of the masses and the imperatives of orderly government in a society undergoing profound and far-reaching changes." Readers of these important memoirs will note Dhar's considered assessment of Mrs. Gandhi as "a better prime minister than her father." This is indispensable reading for students of contemporary India. G. R. G. Hambly University of Texas at Dallas

Table of Contents

1 Home & School
2 College
3 Among the Pathans
4 Back home in Delhi
5 The Delhi School of Economics
6 British Guyana
7 The Institute of Economic Growth
8 The Prime Minister's Office
9 The Bangladesh Crisis
10 Mrs Gandhi, Bhutto, and the Simla Agreement
11 The 'Emergency'
12 The Takeover of Sikkim
13 My Experience of the Emergency
14 From Marorji Desai to the End of Indira Gandhi