IMPORTANT ISSUES IN POST INDEPDENCE HISTORY

IMPORTANT ISSUES IN POST INDEPDENCE HISTORY

 

Topic
Shastri Era
Indira Gandhi Era
Emergency in India (1975-77)
Naxalite Movement
Communalism Events in India
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Shah Bano Case
Bofors Scam
National Policy On Education, 1986

 

 

SHASTRI ERA:

Introduction:

  • Nehru’s death provided a challenge to the Indian political system. Contradicting the predictions that Indian political system and congress will fall into turmoil in the issue of succession, it happened in a mature manner showing the strength of Indian democracy.
  • The succession occurred under the direction of a group of Congress leaders who came to be collectively known as the Syndicate.
  • The group, formed in 1963, consisted of K. Kamaraj, the Congress president, and regional party bosses, Atulya Ghosh of Bengal, S.K. Patil of Bombay, N. Sanjeeva Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, and S. Nijalingappa of Mysore (Karnataka).
  • When they had to decide between Shastri and Morarji Desai they favoured Shastri because, in addition to his other qualities, he had wider acceptability in the party which would keep the party united.
  • Shastri, elected unopposed as the parliamentary leader by the party MPs, was sworn in as prime minister on 2 June 1964.

 

SHASTRI AS PM:

  • Shastri did not make any major changes in Nehru’s cabinet, except for persuading Indira Gandhi to join it as Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Under him the cabinet ministers functioned more autonomously. He also did not interfere in party affairs or with the working of the state governments.

 

PROBLEMS FACED BY INDIA DURING SHASTRI’S PRIME MINISTERSHIP ARE:

  • The problem of the official language of Hindi versus English, flared up in 1965.
  • The demands for a Punjabi Suba (state) and Goa’s merger with Maharashtra were also allowed to simmer.
  • Economic problems:
  • The Indian economy had been stagnating in the previous few years.
  • There had been a slowdown in the rate of industrial growth and the balance of payments problem had worsened.
  • The most serious problem was the severe shortage of food. Agricultural production had slowed down, there was severe drought in several states in 1965 and buffer food stocks were depleted to a dangerous extent.
  • Critics said that the government did not deal with them in a decisive manner as it followed a policy of drift instead.
  • Clearly, long-term measures were needed to deal with the situation. But those were not taken, particularly as the chief ministers of food grain-surplus states refused to cooperate.
  • After the US suspended all food aid because of the Indo-Pak war, the government was compelled to introduce statutory rationing but it covered only seven major cities.
  • The government also created the State Food Trading Corporation in January 1965, but it did not succeed in procuring a significant amount of food grains.
  • However, one positive development was the initiation of the Green Revolution strategy with the purpose of increasing agricultural output and achieving self-sufficiency in food in the long run.

 

CHANGE IN SHASTRI’S ATTITUDE AND THE GOVERNMENT:

  • In general, initially Shastri was accused by critics of being ‘a prisoner of indecision’ and of failing to give a direction to government policies or even to lead and control his cabinet colleagues
  • With the passage of time, however, Shastri began to show greater independence and to assert himself.
  • The Indian government was among the first to criticize the US bombing of North Vietnam.
  • Shastri also set up his own Prime Minister’s Secretariat, headed by L.K. Jha as a source of information and advice to the prime minister on policy matters, independent of the ministries.
  • The Secretariat, which came to be known as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) started acquiring a great deal of influence and power in the making and execution of government policy

 

ROLE OF SHASTRI IN POST CONSOLIDATION OF INDIA:

 

 

 

 

Security

 

·       His display of military prowess, was evident in his dealing of the surprise attack of Pakistan on Kashmir.

·       Shastri had responded to Pakistani provocations on the border through speeches in Parliament from the very beginning, making India’s red lines clear.

·       He was determined to convince President Khan that “India had no desire whatsoever to acquire even one square inch of Pakistani territory but would never allow any interference by Pakistan in Kashmir which was an integral part of India.”

·       His successful handling of the 1965 war(covered earlier), gave India a proper military framework and established India’s military intelligence to be much more competent, compared to 1962.

 

International

 

·       By not approaching the UNSC for intervention, he helped reiterate to the world, that Kashmir was a bilateral issue, and did not need involvement of world powers. This set the stage for India’s diplomatic stance in world politics, as firm and uncompromising.
 

 

Agriculture

·       His unifying call of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” was greatly helpful in unifying the nation behind the true saviours of the nation, the farmers and the soldiers and rallied all the citizens of India to support them.

·       Prime minister realized that India’s food security needs were to be given primary interest after the continuous droughts. Hence, he promoted the green revolution with great fervor and put the nation on the track of self-sustenance in food.

 

 

Political

 

·       Despite initial hiccups, he helped solve the language crisis in southern states by making sure the government continues to use English as a language and not imposing Hindi on them.

·       During his tenure as Home Minister, he created the famous “Shastri Formula” to contain agitation in the state of Assam and Punjab acceptable to all section of the people.

 

Economic

 

·       Lal Bahadur Shastri In his tenure as rail minister he initiated the projects of railway up gradation and electrification. This was one the first steps taken toward modernization of railways in India.

 

CRITICISMS:

  • Inability to come out with a firmer agreement from Tashkent in dealing with Pakistan.
  • In general, initially Shastri was accused by critics of being ‘a prisoner of indecision’ and of failing to give a direction to government policies or even to lead and control his cabinet colleagues.
  • With the passage of time, however, Shastri began to show greater independence and to assert himself.

 

JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN SLOGAN BY SHASTRI:

  • The Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri coined it during a public rally in 1965, the slogan struck a chord with an India that was fighting Pakistan at the border (Jai Jawan) and battling a severe food scarcity at home (Jai Kisan).

 

Significance of the slogan:

  • The government recognized the significance of farmers and soldiers and encouraged them by playing a decisive role itself.
  • The aim was to boost the morale of soldiers fighting on the frontiers and to acknowledge the labour of farmers.
  • The slogan gave a huge psychological boost to the farmers and soldiers.
  • The government’s focus on white revolution led to formation of AMUL. The autonomy of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) also became an institutional point of reference for several other organisations including National Innovation Foundation. In that sense, Shastri was a great institution builder.
  • it is Shastri’s decisive leadership that helped India gain the upper hand. He ordered the bold move to invade West Pakistan.
  • When food grain production was reduced by 1/5th, food aid saved India from mass starvation. To overcome this shortage, Shastri asked experts to devise long-term strategies. He was instrumental in guiding both the Green Revolution and the White Revolution.
  • He helped establish the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and experimented with hybrid seeds to increase crop productivity.
  • The slogan was later changed as “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan” by PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to underscore the importance of Science and technology.

 

INDIRA GANDHI ERA:

Introduction:

Void was created after Shastri’s death regarding succession but again was smoothly accomplished with Syndicate’s choice of Indira Gandhi.

 

PROBLEMS EXISTING IN INDIA AT THAT TIME WERE:

 

 

Political:

 

·       Punjab was on the boil and the Naga and Mizo areas were in rebellion.

·       There was growing loss of public confidence in the administration

·       Communal forces were on peak with demands like total ban on cow-slaughter.

·       Constant disturbances and indiscipline in parliament with some opposition members showing complete disregard for parliamentary decorum.

 

 

Economic:

 

·       The economy was in recession, fall in exports and industrial production.

·       Severe drought led to galloping inflation and grave food shortages.

·       Budget deficits were growing, endangering the Fourth Five Year Plan

·       The wars of 1962 and 1965 and the Pakistan–China axis had led to a sharp rise in military expenditure and diversion of resources

·       The capitalist pattern of development was increasing economic disparity.

 

Foreign affairs:

 

·       India was heavily dependent for its food security on imports of wheat from the US under the PL-480 aid programme.

·       Urgent need for economic aid by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

 

INDIRA GANDHI GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE:

Political:

  • She dealt effectively the demand for Punjabi Suba and being firm with the Naga and Mizo rebels, showing willingness to negotiate with them and accepting the Naga rebels’ demand for autonomy.
  • Stood firm against the demand of ban on cow slaughter

 

Economic:

  • Initially it could not reduce its administrative expenditure which the financial situation required but succeeded in dealing with the drought and famine situation.
  • Devaluation of rupee: Under international pressure, consequently, the Government of India devalued the rupee. The devaluation failed in its stated objectives of increasing exports and attracting foreign capital.

 

Foreign affairs:

  • Urgently needing American wheat, financial aid and capital investment, she initially tried to build bridges with the United States.US promised India with PL-480 and give $900 million in aid. But actual dispatches to India were irregular
  • With conditions by US like ‘India change its farm policy’s and also its position on Vietnam India decided to get out of this vulnerable position
  • She signed a joint statement with the Soviet Union regarding US action in Vietnam
  • India had agreed to the US proposal for an Indo-American Educational Foundation to be funded by PL-480 rupee funds to but abandoned the proposal after criticism from various fronts.

 

Relations with other countries: a. Supported non-alignment to counter the danger of neo-colonialism emanating from the US and West European countries. b. She also expressed a desire to open a dialogue with China.

 

THE FOURTH GENERAL ELECTIONS TO THE LOK SABHA AND THE STATE ASSEMBLIES:
  • Great political awakening among the people with 61% voting
  • Factionalism started engulfing the Centre and the states.
  • Now the central leadership supported the dominant groups in the states in order to secure its own position at the Centre
  • Opposition parties came together as some of them formed anti-Congress fronts in some states

 

Election results:

  • Even though Congress won its majority drastically reduced in the Parliament and it lost its majority in the assemblies of eight states
  • The beneficiaries of the Congress decline were the communal, feudal, right wing and regional parties.

 

Long-term consequences:

  • The 1967 elections heralded the era of the greater importance of rich and middle peasants in Indian politics.
  • The other important feature of the coalition governments of the period was the beginning of the politics of defection.

 

Coalition governments:

  • In states Congress was replaced by multiplicity of parties, groups and independents with Congress itself forming coalition governments in some states
  • Failure:
    • Except the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and the Swatantra led government in Orissa, the coalition governments in all the other states proved to be highly unstable and could not stay in power for long due to the conflicts between the parties themselves, changing loyalties of MLA’s.
    • Small parties and independents came to play an important role.
  • It was clear for congress that it should have to renew itself and it could no longer get support on the basis of its role in the freedom struggle or its achievements during the Nehru era.
  • These elections changed the balance of power inside Congress.
  • Syndicate dominance was hit as many of its leaders lost the elections.
  • Role of Indira Gandhi strengthened

 

TOWARDS THE 1971 GENERAL ELECTIONS
  • When the Supreme Court refused the government to abolish the privy purses of the princes Lok Sabha was dissolved and elections were held in 1971 one year ahead of time.
  • The non-Communist Opposition parties {Congress (O), the Jan Sangh, Swatantra and the Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP)} formed the Grand Alliance.
  • Effective slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ (Remove Poverty) was also quoted during this period.
  • The results of the 1971 elections turned out to be an overwhelming personal triumph
  • Nature of voting:
    • The elections also represented further politicization of the masses. People’s votes had cut across religious, caste and regional barriers.
    • Elections had also shown that once national issues were raised, vote banks and politics of patronage became relatively irrelevant.
    • However, the fulfilment of the mandate of 1971 was again postponed as the Bangladesh crisis occurred. (Bangladesh war covered in Foreign policy section)
EMERGENCY IN INDIA (1975-77)

Introduction:

  • on June 26, 1975, President Fakkrauddin Ali Ahmed drew on Article 352 of the Constitution to declare a state of internal emergency.
  • The presidential proclamation said, “the security of India is threatened by internal disturbance”.
  • The Emergency was in force from June 26, 1975 and March 21, 1977

Events Responsible for imposition of emergency –

Indira Gandhi emerged as an unparalleled leader after 1967. But this period also witnessed many tensions internally in the form of tussle between the party members as well as external in the form of rising corruption, economic and food crisis.

 

Economic Issues-

  • A combination of recession, growing unemployment rampant inflation and scarcity of food grains created a serious economic crisis.
  • India support to Bangladesh’s liberation, materially, caused serious repercussion on India’s foreign exchange reserves it got drained and more resources were diverted to defence.
  • Consecutive monsoon failure in 1972 & 73 affected India food grains availability and fuelled prices.
  • Large scale unemployment and economic recession led to industrial unrest and wave of strikes in different parts of country culminated in All India railway strike in May 1974.

 

Political Issues-

  • Congress started declining as a political organization.
  • The government’s capacity to redress the political crisis was impaired by corruption.
  • Another development was the growing detachment of 3 major social group from Congress:
  • The middle class turned against Congress because of price rise and corruption
  • The rich peasantry started opposing Congress because of the threat of land reforms.
  • The capitalists turned against Congress because of the talk of socialism, nationalization of banks and coal mining and anti-monopoly measures.
  • This phase also witnessed the rise of Marxist activities as they didn’t believe in Parliamentary politics. They used violent measures to overthrow the government.

 

Tussle with Judiciary –

  • The union government under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, amended the constitution in the Parliament that it can abridge Fundamental rights while giving effect to DPSPs.
  • Later, In Kesavananda Bharti Case, the Apex Court ruled that there are some basic features of the constitution, which can’t be amended.
  • As a response, the Union Government changed the long-term precedence of appointing senior most judge in S.C. as Chief Justice. In 1973, the government set aside seniority of three judges and appointed Justice N. Ray as Chief Justice of India.

 

Raj Narain Case –

  • Raj Narain was a socialist who was defeated by Mrs. Gandhi in Rae Bareilly parliamentary constituency of UP.
  • Under ‘State of Uttar Pradesh Vs Raj Narain’ case, he filed a petition challenging the election of Indira Gandhi on the ground that she misused the government machinery and resources to gain unfair advantage in her election campaign.
  • On June 12th 1975, Justice Jagmohan Lai Sinha found her guilty of misuse of government machinery for election campaign. The court declared her election ‘null and void’ and barred her from contesting any election for 6 years.
  • Since, she was no more an MP, so she cannot retain the post of Prime Minister as well. The court granted her the stay to take some more time to find the successor for Prime Minister’s post.
  • But the Supreme Court ordering a partial stay on the order, the opposition pressed for her resignation.

 

Gujarat and Bihar Unrest –

  • In January 1974, students in Gujarat protested against rising prices, unemployment and corruption.
  • An Assembly election were held in Gujarat in June 1975 and the Congress was defeated.
  • A similar agitation was started by the students in Bihar in March 1974.
  • After a point Jayprakash Narayan (JP) took the leadership of the movement and gave a call for ‘Total Revolution’
  • Thus, the student’s movement assumed a political character.

 

Jai Prakash (JP) movement/total revolution-

  • The JP movement was one of the significant movements in India’s political life after independence.
  • Jayprakash Narayan drew on the enormous discontent prevalent in the country to force a movement.
  • Jay Prakash Narayan, popularly known as JP or ‘Loknayak’ was an eminent personality in India’s Freedom Movement.
  • JP launched the ‘Bihar Movement’, started by the students in Bihar in 1974 where he provided perfect leadership to these students.
  • This agitation was inspired by the student protest in Gujarat. (We have discussed Gujarat and Bihar Movement in above points)
  • On 5th June, 1974 addressing a mammoth gathering of 5 lakh people in Gandhi Maidan at Patna, he launched the revolutionary programme called Total Revolution (Sampoorna Kranti) against immense corruption, economic crisis and inflation.
  • During the JP Movement, people set up parallel governments all over the state, didn’t pay the taxes etc. The J.P. Movement attracted wide support from students, middle classes, traders, and a section of the intelligentsia. The J.P. Movement also got the backing of nearly all the non-left political parties.
  • The JP movement quickly spread to other part of the country – this was mainly because it drew upon the widely held feeling that only a shift in power and a new beginning to India’s political life could save India’s democracy.

 

 

Total Revolution-

  • Social Revolution – Establishing equality and brotherhood in the society.
  • Economic Revolution Decentralization of economy and making efforts to bring about economic equality by taking village as the unit of development.
  • Political Revolution – Ending political corruption, decentralization of politics and making public partner by giving them more rights.
  • Cultural Revolution Defending Indian culture and regeneration of cultural values in common man.
  • Thought Revolution – Revolution in the way of thinking.
  • Spiritual Revolution Developing moral and spiritual values, and turning materialism towards spirituality.
  • Educational Revolution-Making education occupation based and changing of education system.

 

Major Flaws of Movement-

  • The aims of the movement were vague, impractical.
  • Socio-economic, political contents and the programme and policies of the movement were not properly defined.
  • The agitation methods adopted by the JP movement were extra-constitutional and undemocratic.
  • The movement was itself a coalition of too many disparate groups – the RSS, the Jan Sangh, the Anand Marg, Naxal groups etc.
  • The JP movement did not try to conceptualize radical changes like equalization of resources; as a result, its social base remained limited, not touching the peasantry and working class.
  • However, by the end of 1974, the JP Movements got down because of absence of organizational structures of the movement.

 

Imposition of Emergency –

  • All these factors especially Raj Narain Case and J P Movement played a decisive role in imposing a state of emergency on June 26, 1975 on the grounds of threat of internal disturbances, invoked article 352 of constitution.
  • Once an emergency is proclaimed, the federal distribution of powers remains suspended and all the powers gets concentrated in Union government. Even the Fundamental rights get curtailed during such period.
  • The Union Government misused it’s all powers, electricity of the newspaper houses got disconnected, leaders of opposition parties were arrested.

 

Impact of Emergency-

  • Government curtailed the freedom of press via “Press censorship” and made it mandatory to get its approval before publishing it.
  • Protests, strikes and public agitations were not allowed.
  • Fundamental right of constitutional remedies to move the court for restoring their fundamental rights to get
  • Religious and cultural organisation like R.S.S., Jamait-E-Islami were banned on the apprehension of disturbance to social and communal harmony.
  • Government misused the provision of preventive detention, arrested the political workers of opposition parties.
  • Under preventive detention arrested persons can’t challenge such move as right to constitutional remedies gets suspended.
  • Due to such harsh conditions during emergency regime, people who were awarded with honours like Padma shri and other awards returned these honours in the protest against suspension of democracy.
  • Torture and custodial deaths, arbitrary relocation of poor people, imposition of compulsory sterilisation to control population occurred during emergency.
  • People without official position, misused the powers of administration and interfered in the functioning of the government.

 

Forced Sterilisation

  • During Emergency, Civil liberties were suspended. Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi had formulated a five-point program which included Family Planning, afforestation, abolition of dowry, slum clearance and removal of illiteracy.
  • The sterilizations that followed were carried out under so-called “compulsuasion,” (a combination of compulsion and persuasion).
  • The sterilizations were performed in assembly-line fashion, in hurry, and in unhygienic conditions. Many men and women died from subsequent infections.
  • Thus, innocent Indian masses were subjected to this outrageous exercise marked by vulgarity, cruelty and brutality.
  • Soon public anger over the forced sterilization technique resulted in riots all over the country. Indira Gandhi soon asked to halt the campaign thereafter in 1977.
  • This can also be considered as one of the major reasons of her loss from the office of Prime Minister in 1977 general elections.

 

20-point Programme during Emergency-

In July 1975, Indira Gandhi announced the 20-Point Programme. The 20-Point Programme promised to-

  • Liquidate the existing debts of landless laborers, small farmers and rural artisans.
  • Extend alternate credit to landless laborers, small farmers and rural artisans.
  • Abolish bonded labour
  • Implement the existing agricultural land ceiling laws.
  • Provide house sites to landless laborers and weaker sections
  • Revise upwards minimum wages of agricultural labour.
  • Provide special help to the handloom industry by bringing down the prices,
  • Prevent tax evasion and smuggling
  • Increase production and Streamline distribution of essential commodities.
  • Increase the limit of income tax exemption up to Rs 8000
  • Liberalize investment procedures.

 

Constitutional amendments during emergency:

The 38th to 42nd amendments were passed during the Emergency.

38th Amendment· The 38th Amendment barred the review of proclamations of the Emergency, judicial review of overlapping proclamations, of ordinances promulgated by the President or by Governors, and of laws that contravened the Fundamental Rights.
39th Amendment· The 39th Amendment: In the background of the ruling of the Allahabad High Court in the Indira Gandhi case, the amendment declared that elections of Prime Minister, President and Vice President could not be challenged in the Court. The Amendment was placed in the Ninth Schedule, beyond judicial review.
41st Amendment• The 41st Amendment said no criminal proceedings “whatsoever” could lie against a President, Prime Minister, or Governor for acts before or during their terms of office.
42nd Amendment· The 42nd Amendment:

o   Gave unrestrained powers to Parliament to change the Constitution,

o   Invalidated the Supreme Court ruling in the Keshavananda Bharti case that the government couldn’t change the basic structure of the Constitution

o   Made India a socialist, secular, republic and laying down the fundamental duties of the citizens.

o   The duration of legislature in the country was extended from 5 to 6 years, besides this, during an emergency; elections can be postponed by one year.

 

  • Initially, a large majority of the people accepted the Emergency. A major factor in the people’s acceptance was its constitutional, legal and temporal character.
  • From early 1976, the Emergency started becoming unpopular.
  • The intelligentsia opined that the 42nd Amendment was an effort to undermine democracy– the Emergency started losing its legitimacy.
  • A major reason for growing unpopularity of the emergency was development of an extra constitutional center of power– the rise in political power of Sanjay Gandhi.

 

End of Emergency –

  • On January 1977, Indira Gandhi announced that elections to the Lok Sabha would be held in March.
  • A decision was also taken to release the political prisoners
  • The Elections were held on 16th March 1977- Congress was defeated
  • The Emergency came to an end on 21st March 1977

 

Government Justification for imposing Emergency-

  • India’s stability, security, integrity and democracy where in danger from the disruptive character of the JP movement.
  • There was the need to implement a programme of rapid economic development in the interests of the poor and underprivileged.
  • There was intervention and subversion from abroad with the aim of weakening and destabilizing India.

 

Criticisms of Emergency-

  • Detention of people by police without charge or notification of families
  • Abuse and torture of detainees and political prisoners
  • Use of public and private media institutions for government propaganda
  • Forced sterilization
  • Destruction of the slum and low-income housing in the Turkmen Gate and Jama Masjid area of old Delhi
  • Large-scale enactment of law

 

Analysis of Emergency

  • Indira Gandhi stunned the whole nation and the world by the proclamation of Emergency. It affected millions of lives and the entire country had become the storm centre which grabbed the attention of whole world. With a single stroke, the largest democracy on the Earth came down to the level of dictatorship.
  • Emergency lasted for 21 months (1975- 1977) and was the darkest phase of Indian democracy.
  • Also, right to life under Article 21 was suspended.
  • It was also the darkest period of judiciary which gave rise to distrust in Indian Judiciary.
  • One of the major rights to be violated during Emergency was Habeas Corpus
  • In May 1977, a commission of inquiry headed by justice J P Shah (retired judge of Supreme Court) was appointed by Janata Government to inquire several aspects of allegation of abuse of authority, malpractices and actions taken in the wake of emergency.
  • The Shah Commission gave three reports on the basis of the testimonies of the witnesses.
  • The report was accepted by the government.
  • It was followed by the Constitutional (44th Amendment) Act, 1978 which reversed most of the exceeds done during the National Emergency.
  • But due to this darkest phase of unfortunate incident of emergency Indians became aware about their rights and use their Right to vote efficiently.
  • Also, the era of coalition government started after a few years. Few advantages are also attached with the coalition governments that it suppresses the autocratic rule and monopoly of a single largest party.

 

NAXALITE MOVEMENT

Background-      

  • The CPM had originally split from the united CPI in 1964 on grounds of differences over revolutionary politics and reformist parliamentary politics.
  • In practice, the CPM participated actively in parliamentary politics, postponing armed struggle and formed a coalition government in West Bengal after 1967 elections.
  • However younger cadres of the party wanted a revolutionary armed struggle to the entire country. So, these rebel CPM leaders launched a peasant uprising in the small Naxalbari area of northern West Bengal.
  • The CPM leadership immediately expelled the rebel leaders, and suppressed the Naxalbari insurrection.
  • The breakaway CPM leaders came to be known as

 

Formation of CPI-ML and Naxalite Movement-

  • In 1969, the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist (ML) was formed under the leadership of Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal.
  • It succeeded in organizing armed peasant bands in some rural areas and in attacking policemen and rival communists as agents of the ruling classes.
  • An objective of Naxalite movement was to overthrow democractic elected government through use of violence and establish Communist government in India.
  • Even though the then government and the subsequent governments strived to control the Naxalite menace, it didn’t succeed rather it spread to many other parts of the country.
  • Still more than 75 districts in around nine states are affected by Naxal Movements.

 

COMMUNALISM EVENTS IN INDIA

Background-

  • The problem of communalism begins when a religion is seen as the basis of the national unity and identity.
  • Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community.
  • Communalism was and continues to be one of the major challenges to democracy in our country. The founding fathers of the nations wanted secular India, hence they strictly refrained themselves from declaring India’s official religion, and provided equal freedom to all the followers of different religions.
  • Here we will discuss some major incident of communal politics.

 

Ayodhya Dispute 1990s

  • A dispute had been going on for many decades over the mosque known as Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, built by Mir Baqi Tashqandi, Mughal Emperor Babur’s General.
  • Some Hindus believe that it was built after demolishing a temple of Lord Rama which is believed to be his birthplace.
  • The dispute reached to the court and in late 1940’s the mosque was locked up as the matter was with court. In February 1986, the Faizabad district court ordered that Babri Masjid premises to be unlocked so that Hindus could offer prayers at the statue which they considered as a temple.
  • Soon with the unlocking of doors, mobilisation on communal lines began on both the sides. Gradually the local issue became national issue and increased the communal tensions.
  • In December, 1992 many Karsevaks of Hindu Right-Wing faction like VHP, Bajrang Dal etc. arrived at Ayodhya in the name Karsevaks, voluntary service by devotees to build Ram temple.
  • Meanwhile the Apex Court ordered that State government must ensure that disputed site won’t be endangered. However, thousands of peoples arrived there and demolished the Babri Masjid on 06, 1992 and it was followed by communal riots in the country at large scale, in which lots of people died.
  • Then Union government dismissed state government and appointed Librehan Commission to investigate circumstance leading to demolition of mosque.
  • Since then, this issue was pending in apex court and finally Supreme Court came out with its judgement on 9th November, 2019.
  • The five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi read out a unanimous judgment and ruled in favour of the Ram Janmabhoomi and said there will be Ram Mandir at the disputed site and Muslims will be given an alternate 5-acre land for their mosque.

 

Gujarat Riots, 2002

  • In months of February and March 2002, Gujarat witnessed it’s one of the ugliest communal riots in its history. The spark of the riots happens at Godhra Station, where a bogey of train that was returning from Ayodhya with Karsevaks set on fire.
  • Suspecting it to be Muslims conspiracy, large scale violence was spread in many parts of Gujarat between Hindu and Muslim community.

Note: Anti-Sikh Riots, 1984 – (we will cover this issue in upcoming chapter of Punjab issue)

 

Assam violence (2012):

  • There were frequent clashes between the Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims due to increased competition for livelihood, land, and political power.
  • In 2012, one such outbreak escalated into a riot in Kokrajhar, when unidentified miscreants killed four Bodo youths at Joypur.
  • This was followed by retaliatory attacks on local Muslims killing two and injuring several of them. Almost 80 people were killed, most of whom were Bengali Muslims and some Bodos. Approximately, 400,000 people were displaced to makeshift camps.

 

Muzzafarnagar Riots (2013):

  • The clashes between the Hindu Jats and Muslim communities in Muzaffarnagar, UP resulted in at least 62 deaths, injured 93 people, and left more than 50,000 displaced.

The riot has been described as “the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history”, with the army being deployed in the state for the first time in the last 20 years.

 

Delhi Riots, 2019

  • New Delhi witnessed one of the worst communal violence in the history of the national capital.
  • The premise of the New Delhi 2020 riots is based on growing animosity and destabilisation of communal harmony in the background of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

 

BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY 1984
  • In 1970 Union Carbide India limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation (an American multinational), established a pesticide plant in Bhopal.
  • The plant produced a pesticide Sevin (Carbaryl) using methyl isocyanate (MIC). A number of minor leaks had been reported since 1976 but the management had ignored them.
  • On the night of 2-3 December, 1984 about 45 tons of the dangerous gas methyl isocyanate (MIC) stored in three tanks, escaped from the plant in Bhopal and drifted over the densely populated neighbourhoods around the plant, killing thousands of people immediately and creating a panic as tens of thousands of others attempted to flee Bhopal.
  • During that time, Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and Arjun Singh was the Chief minister of MP.
  • The chemical tragedy was the worst industrial disaster witnessed in the history of India and perhaps the worst in the world at that point in time.
  • As per official estimates, it led to death of 2259 people, caused 5.6 lakh injuries and many more were permanently disabled.
  • However, unofficially deaths have been put at around 20,000.
  • Some half a million survivors suffered respiratory problems, eye irritation or blindness, and other maladies resulting from exposure to the toxic gas.
  • In 2004, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the state to supply clean drinking water to the residents of Bhopal because of groundwater contamination.
  • In 2010, several former executives of Union Carbide’s India subsidiary were convicted by a Bhopal court of negligence in the disaster.

 

SHAH BANO CASE

Background-

  • Shah Bano, a 62-year-old Muslim woman and a mother of five from Indore, was divorced by her husband in 1978. She filed a suit in the Supreme Court seeking compensation from her husband.
  • The Supreme Court invoked Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which applies to everyone regardless of their caste, class, creed or religion, and ruled in favour of Shah Bano, ordering that she be given maintenance money, similar to alimony.
  • The case was considered a milestone as it was a step ahead of the general practice of deciding cases on the basis of interpretation of personal law and also dwelt on the need to implement the Uniform Civil Code. It also took note of different personal laws and the need to recognize and address the issue of gender equality and perseverance in matters of religious principles.
  • The judgment became very controversial, and there were many protests from various sections of Muslims.
  • Muslims felt that the verdict was an attack on their religion, and their right to have their own religious personal laws. At the forefront of these protests was the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

 

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986

  • Under pressure from the Muslims, the government headed by Rajiv Gandhi introduced a legislation which reserved the Supreme Court verdict.
  • The Parliament passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which nullified the Supreme Court’s judgment.
  • The act allowed maintenance to a divorced woman only during the period of 90 days after the divorce (iddat), according to provisions of Islamic law.
  • Therefore, the liability of the husband to pay maintenance was restricted to the period of iddat only.
  • The act was criticized heavily by many experts as this was a great opportunity to fight for women’s rights, but the law endorsed the inequality and exploitation that Muslim women face.
  • Rather than working on the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code as per the court’s direction, the government brought amendments to overturn Supreme Court’s ruling.
  • The opposition parties criticized the act and denounced it as one aimed at Muslim appeasement and vote bank politics.

 

BOFORS SCAM
  • Another major incident during Rajiv Gandhi’s rule was a political scandal pertaining to Defense deals.
  • During the 1980s and 1990s, Bofors, a Sweden based company won a bid to supply 410 Howitzers to India. It was the biggest arms deal ever in Sweden, therefore money which was marked for developmental projects was diverted to secure this contract from India.
  • Several politicians of Indian National Congress including the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were accused of receiving illegal kickbacks from Bofors, in its bid to win the contract worth US $1.4 billion.
  • The scandal soon used by opposition to launch major attack on Rajiv Gandhi himself.
  • P Singh, who had served as the Finance minister first and then as the Defense Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, after resigning from the Congress in 1987 made the scandal and corruption a major plank of his political campaign to elections in 1989.
  • Bofors and the stink of corruption resurfaced in 1989 of election. Although, the Joint Parliamentary Committee Report had given a more or less clean chit to the Rajiv Gandhi, But the Comptroller and Auditor- General’s Report cast doubts on the procedure for acquisition of Bofors.
  • In wake of these findings, the opposition demanded Rajiv Gandhi’s resignation. In the election of 1989, the Congress failed to secure the majority and P. Singh formed a coalition government with outside support of the left parties and BJP.

 

NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION, 1986

Background:

  • In May 1986, the new National policy on Education (NPE) was introduced by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
  • It was named as “Special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize education opportunity”.

Objective- The main objective of this policy was to provide equivalent opportunity to all including Women, ST and SC communities to study.

 

Key highlights of 1986 NPE:

  • Expansion of scholarships and promotion of adult education.
  • Employment of more teachers from the SCs and STs Communities.
  • Incentives for poor families to send their children to school regularly.
  • For primary education, the NPE called “child centric approach”, then “Operation Blackboard” was launched to expand primary schools nationwide.
  • Under this policy the Open University system was expanded with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, which had been created in 1985.
  • The policy was also recognized “rural university” model, based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, to encourage economic and social development at the grassroots level in rural India.