The Emergency has been described as the ‘darkest period’ of India. It was introduced by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was imposed from June 25, 1975, to March 23, 1977.
At the release of various regional language editions of Emergency: Indian Democracy's Darkest Hour authored by senior journalist Surya Prakash, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha recalled the days of Emergency: "During those 21 months, the democracy in our country was sterilized, sapping it of its profound energy and vitality".
He warned that "Emergency’ should not be bandied about casually or irresponsibly. Emergency means dictatorship and the worst abuse of executive power."
Further, he emphasised that a chapter on Emergency should be added in the school curriculum.
"A detailed account would make them understand and appreciate better the extent and sweep of the perversion that guided the State apparatus during those dark 21 months. It would also help the present generations to be more aware of the importance of personal freedoms and fundamental rights. It would be in order to know as to how did it all happen," Naidu said
The Chairman of the Upper House of Parliament recalled how as a student activist in those days he was active on matters of public importance.
(Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in jail during Emergency)
The Vice President quoted from Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a member of the Constituent Assembly: “Our opportunities are great but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days."
"A free India will be judged by the way in which it will serve the interests of the common man. Unless we destroy corruption in high places, root out every trace of nepotism, love of power. We will not be able to raise the standards of efficiency in administration”.
Listing 33 major aberrations during that period that took away basic freedoms of citizens, Naidu said, "After the resounding pro-democracy verdict of the people of our country, I am confident and so are you that no sensible government would dare to repeat what was done during the fateful night of June 25, 1975. That was clearly a state-sponsored ‘intolerance’ to democracy and individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution."
Venkaiah Naidu also raised the crucial and pressing issues of intolerance:
"We need to guard against ‘intolerance’ on the part of certain misguided citizens. We have been occasionally witnessing some such words and deeds of intolerance by some citizens in the name of so-called cow protection, Love Jihad, eating habits, watching films etc."
Such incidents lead us to the point that individual freedoms can be in full play only when every citizen respects such freedoms of fellow citizens. Post emergency, the State apparatus would think twice before riding roughshod over the liberties and freedoms of citizens. But it is the enlightened citizens who would enable fuller manifestation of such liberties and freedoms.
Finally, Naidu spoke about what freedom signifies in a nation like India:
"I would like the message to go out that any citizen who violates the freedom of fellow citizen would have no right to be called an Indian. It is because he is hurting the Constitution of India and all that India stood for ages. So, as citizens of India, let us resolve to defend democracy and the fundamental rights of all the citizens," he signs off