Q. 265.0( 2 Votes )

Analyse the circu

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Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India. When he passed away in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri was appointed as the successor. But his Prime Ministership came to an unexpected termination when he suddenly passed away in USSR on 10 January 1966. After his death, an extreme competition was seen between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi to become the next Prime Minister. While Morarji Desai had been the Chief Minister of Bombay and a Central Minister, Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and had been the President of Congress. She was also the Union Minister for Information in the Shastri cabinet.

Even though the senior leaders of the party supported Indira Gandhi, the decision was not unanimous. The competition between them was resolved through a secret ballot among Congress MPs. Indira Gandhi won against Morarji Desai by securing two-thirds of the votes. Upon her appointment as the Prime Minister, she had to face many challenges related to elections and the socio-economic and political system of the country.

Indira Gandhi was considered as the iron lady of Indian politics. She had many accomplishments that made her a popular Prime Minister. Some of her important achievements are:

Indira Gandhi gave more importance to the socialist policies of development. She reinforced the role that the state has for monitoring and guiding the economy towards development. Many restrictions were imposed on the private industry and more importance was given to the public sector. Development of nuclear energy and concerns about the environment and its conservation and protection was ensured.

She popularised the slogan of Garibi Hatao which meant the complete eradication of poverty. True to this slogan, the government implemented many pro-poor programmes and schemes. This created a popular image for her among the disadvantaged sections, especially the landless labourers, Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, women and the unemployed youth. With this, she tried to eliminate the disparities in income and opportunity among people.

Under her leadership, the Congress adopted a Ten Point Programme in May 1967. It consisted of social control over banks, nationalisation of General Insurance, a ceiling on urban property and income, ensuring public distribution of food grains, land reforms and housing facilities to the rural poor. She took many major initiatives like the abolition of Privy Purse. During her tenure, 14 major banks were nationalised. This gave a popular image.

The escalation of political tensions resulted in a war between India and Pakistan in December 1971. Within 10 days the Indian army had surrounded Dhaka in East Pakistan and the Pakistani army had to surrender. This resulted in the formation of Bangladesh Everyone considered this as a moment of brilliance. It gave the indication that the military competence and proficiency of India was strengthening. This victory gave much impetus to Indira Gandhi as she was the Prime Minister during the period.


By 1970s Indira Gandhi had completely emerged as a national leader with remarkable popularity and image. But during this period many socio-economic and political clashes started appearing in the country. The competition between different parties was becoming more vicious. Strains in the relationship between the government and the judiciary were also evident. The non-Congress parties began to feel that politics was becoming too personalised and governmental authority was being converted into personal authority. All these issues contributed to the declaration of national emergency in 1975. The causes for the declaration of emergency can be categorised into the following groups:

Economic background: Even though the slogan of garibi hatao was given by the government, the social and economic situation in the country did not show much improvement in the country. The economy was completely in a downward trend because of the Bangladesh crisis, Indo-Pak war and the increase in oil prices. This resulted in an overall escalation in prices of commodities by 23% in 1973 and 30% in 1974. With lower industrial growth and a higher unemployment rate, such a high level of inflation caused much suffering among the people. The government employees were dissatisfied when the government halted their salaries to reduce expenditure. Coupled with this the failure of monsoons in 1972-1973 caused a severe deterioration in agricultural productivity.

• Organisation of protests: The growing dissatisfaction among the public about the activities of the government enabled the non-Congress parties to organise protests. Student unrests and the activities of the Maoists and Naxalites grew. Popular strikes occurred against the government in Gujarat and Bihar. Jayaprakash Narayan was the leader of the protests. He began to be considered as an alternative to Indira Gandhi.

• Railway strikes: George Fernandez was the master brain behind the Railway Strike that shook country in May 1974. Under his active leadership, The National Coordination Committee for Railwaymen’s Struggle organised a nationwide strike by all employees of the Indian Railway. Their demands were related to bonus and service conditions. The strike raised issues like rights of the workers, labour unrest and debates on whether employees of such essential services should resort to strikes.

Conflicts with the judiciary: Two major clashes emerged between the government and the judiciary. The initial crises were related to the amendment of the fundamental rights in the constitution. The Supreme Court rejected the power of the government to amend the basic features of the constitution. This concluded with the Kesavananda Bharati case. After this, the next crisis occurred in the appointment of Chief Justice. It was a practice to appoint the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of the country. This was violated with the controversial appointment of Justice A K Ray in 1973 as the Chief Justice. He was appointed by the government after it set aside the seniority of three judges who had given rulings against the government.

Electoral crisis: In 1975 the Allahabad High Court passed a verdict pronouncing Indira Gandhi’s election to the Lok Sabha invalid. It was declared on the basis that she had used the services of government servants for her election campaign. Since she was not an MP anymore she could not retain the position of Prime Minister unless she was re-elected as an MP within six months. Under these circumstances, the opposition parties under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan pushed for her resignation. They organised a huge protest in Delhi’s Ramlila grounds on 25 June 1975. Jayaprakash Narayan proclaimed the commencement of a nationwide satyagraha for her resignation. He also urged the army, police and government officials not to obey orders given to them.

The combined influence of all these factors resulted in the declaration of emergency caused by the threat of internal disturbances. It raised Article 352 of the Constitution by which the government could declare a state of emergency on the grounds of external threat or due to internal disturbances. The emergency continued for 21 months from 1975 to 1977.

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