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Indira Gandhi, the 'Emergency', and Indian Democracy

by P. N. Dhar

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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.… (more)
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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.

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