This week, India celebrated the 39th anniversary of the declaration of the Emergency, the 21-month long period under which then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi virtually made India a police state in order to seize all control in the country and rule by decree. “All the fundamental rights were suspended, politicians were arrested and a heavy censorship was imposed on the media,” Mahak Raigarhia writes in DNA India.
Newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected on the occasion in his blog:
“It was on this day… that the Indian republic faced one of its toughest test in recent history. At midnight on June 25, 1975 the Emergency was imposed thus beginning one of India’s darkest periods when a political class full of arrogance and intoxicated with power preferred to destroy the nation’s democratic fabric rather than resign when their continuing in office became untenable…
“I have several memories… I was a 25-year-old youngster who had recently started working for the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an all-volunteer Hindu nationalist organization] but what I witnessed during those dark days remains forever engraved in my memory. Who can forget the manner in which personal freedom was brutally trampled over?”
Several films from the period are now available online. “The Internet, the great domain of free speech and democracy, has a lot of fascinating material from that period. It seems the Films Division was more prolific during the Emergency than any other time in its existence,” wrote Shivam Vij on the Indian news website Scroll.In.
But not all films were political. The short video below, “Sorry, I’m Late,” is on the importance of punctuality — which anyone in India even today can tell you is something Indians ought to work on.
You can watch several other films from the Emergency here.
This piece was originally published on June 29, 2014, on Link TV’s World News website.