A couple of days ago India celebrated the 35th anniversary of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. You can read a quick recap in this Kanchan Gupta’s column. And here is the WikiPedia entry on The Emergency in India for those who might think “Whathaheck is that man?!”
Remember, how a few years ago the Congress government tried to block blogs?
The Churmuri blog is asking its readers: how will media react if emergency is reimposed? (nice excerpts from Kuldip Nayar).
Let’s add people too because to be frank, it’s the people who let dictatorships and emergency-type situations happen, and it has been proven (recently read a book review on the topic but sadly cannot find the link now). So what will happen if dictatorship/emergency is reimposed in India?
- The Internet will be blocked. By this I don’t mean you won’t be able to access websites, I mean you won’t be even able to connect to the Internet. It’s the most powerful tool people have in their hands and the mainstream media already feels sidelined as people rely on each other for information rather than on newspapers and TV. Although 95% of India might not be connected yet, it’s the easiest way to reach out to the outside world through blogs, videos and images. Majority of people will justify (those who are educated but still vote for the Congress) this act as a step towards ensuring national security and preventing communal forces from posting “damaging” material on the Internet. Even countries like China, Iran and Pakistan don’t block the Internet, but I’m sure the Indian government will.
- If, due to some bizzarre reason, the Internet is not blocked then Twitter and Facebook will surely be. Again, if not blocked, monitoring will be exceptional. All dissenting accounts will be blocked or removed. People with no political opinion or those who decide to have no political opinion will tell those who try to have a political opinion to just have a chill pill and let the government do its job (or “you asked for it”).
- Right now there are no, or very few journalists and newspapers that can take a stand. Columns will be written on why the government was forced to take the drastic measures and how soon this is going to get over. They’ll tell you it’s not as bad as it sounds. Most TV news channels are already nationalized by proxy but then there will be total control. Debates and talks shows will totally be tailored (OK, nothing is basically different even presently) to brainwash the public’s mind. People having opposing views will be either ignored or shouted down (and later on persecuted).
- There will be very little resistance from the opposition parties accept for half-hearted protests, public arrests and confused, senseless statements.
- The sense of outrage will be negligible: the educated and well-placed people are too timid, clueless and self-absorbed, and the poor are too weak and demotivated because they cannot buy food to eat. People will disappear and appear dead right left and center and nobody will ask a question. In fact the bodies that’ll be dumped on the road will be made into roadkill (it happens you know?).
- People will more or less remain to themselves.
- The crackdown on protestors will be severe as there are more criminals in the public life than there were back in 1975.
So am I predicting a no-way-out situation if emergency is reimposed? Looking at the current socio-psychological patterns I’d say yes. I’m not an expert, so of course I might be totally wrong.