You are warmly invited to the QM South Asia Forum Launch Event.
‘Democracy and Emergency in Modern India’
A Public Lecture by Gyan Prakash
Gyan Prakash is Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University. Professor Prakash specialises in the history of modern India, and his general field of research concerns urban modernity, the colonial genealogies of modernity, and problems of postcolonial thought and politics. He was a member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective and, from 2003 to 2008, served as Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton. Professor Prakash is the author of Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labor Servitude in Colonial India (1990), Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (1999),Mumbai Fables (2010), as well as editor of several volumes of essays.
Lecture Abstract: On the night of June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India, suspending constitutional rights and rounding up her political opponents in midnight raids across the country. In the twenty-one harrowing months that followed, her regime unleashed a brutal campaign of coercion and intimidation, arresting and torturing people by the tens of thousands, razing slums, and imposing compulsory sterilization on the poor. In spite of this searing experience, the Emergency has received little historical study. Stripping away the comfortable myth that this authoritarian turn was a momentary episode brought on entirely by Indira's crisis of power, this paper argues that the political crisis was long in the making and was a turning point in the history of India’s democracy. It focuses on the stories of the imprisonment of leaders to illustrate how this moment raised searching questions about the meanings of public and personal freedom.