Huge billboards erected across cities in India during emergency (1975-77), sending strong dictatorial messages to the citizens to avoid rumours & loose talks, and concentrate on doing their “duties”. (Exactly 38 years ago today, i.e 26-June-1975, emergency was declared in India by Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi)
In order to justify the act of emergency & suppress voices, Indira Gandhi’s Govt imposed severe censorship of newspapers and pushed critics behind bars. Even the common man who protested against the Govt was put behind bars. Every article had to be sent to the Govt for scrutiny and approval before publishing it in the newspaper.
However, there were creative editors who were able to protest against the emergency excesses without breaking the “rules” like these:
In the midst of such censorship and denial of basic rights, news which spread through “word of mouth” had begun to gain prominence. But as it is usual even for trivial matters to get distorted & magnified during the course of spreading of messages, rumour mills were churning out loose talks & all sorts of unverified claims which within hours would take the nation by storm and disrupt the system. Since newspapers were censored and claims could not be verified, people had no choice but to believe such rumours.
Indira Gandhi, already being overwhelmed by the large scale protests by activists could not bear it any longer and the further disruption of system even by the common man in the form of spreading rumours (against Govt) triggered her to come up with such boards “ordering” people to avoid loose talks and do their “duties”.
Apart from such billboards, there were Govt sponsored videos which were aired in TV and advertised in theaters to pursue people to avoid rumours.
One such video:
Looking back in hindsight, the period of emergency can be considered the darkest period in the history of Independent India and historians do not hesitate to call it “The death of democracy”.
A lot has changed in the last 38 years and the current generation has become relatively intolerant. Today’s citizens strongly believe in fundamental rights and are very much aware of their inherent value in a democratic system. Bad governance & corruption had youngsters out on the streets in protest. One can only wonder how our current generation will respond to such an emergency and dictatorial rule again. Do you think our youngsters will feel helpless and give up or will they rebel against any suppression of fundamental rights?
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