04 December, 2020

Emergency: Notes In Transit

Metaphor, analogy, circumlocution, we tried it all

Emergency: Notes In Transit
Starting in 1956, when we drove overland to India from London, we have written "notes" during each of our 11 research years in India. Notes help us understand what is happening and clarify our thoughts about what has now become a second home. We were here in 1975-76, after Indira Gandhi had declared an Emergency. When we began writing "Jaipur Notes", our record of that period, neither we nor those who were designing the Emergency were very clear about what it should mean or where it should go. Would India, like so many "new nations", abandon democratic governance? When India said no to authoritarianism in the election of 1977, that was indeed a defining Indian experience.

Dissent (and in the circles in which we moved in Jaipur, Delhi and Calcutta, there was considerable dissent) was expressed in metaphors and analogies, circumlocutions and euphemisms, except when we spoke to old friends in private. The notes bear witness to the charged atmosphere and evasive media invented to negotiate it. Their tone of voice and language took account of...



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