Social Scientist. v 24, no. 280-81 (Sept-Oct 1996) p. 36.

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Emergency Assessments

Illusion is the most tenacious weed in the collective consciousness;

history teaches, but it has no pupils. (Antonio Gramsci, 11 March 1921).1

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new

cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms


(Antonio Gramsci, 1930).2

The Emergency (1975-77) evokes the word 'fascism,' but without any conceptual specificity. Indira Gandhi defended the Emergency on the grounds that she was protecting the Indian state and the Indian people from "ultra-militant subversive groups" including the Ananda Margis, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Jamat-e-Islami-e-Hind, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the Mizo National Front. In an interview with the Saturday Review (9 August 1975), Indira Gandhi said that "I do not believe that a democratic society has the obligation to acquiesce in its own dissolution." The Anti-Emergency movement which developed almost as soon as the Emergency came into effect was united by the idea that it was Indira Gandhi's regime which was fascist. This movement contained a wide array of ideologies from the millenarian Jayaprakash Narayan to the Communist Party of India [Marxist] (CPM) to the Hindu Right (especially the Bharatiya Jana Sangh [BJS]). Since 1980, the Hindu Right has been reorganized undett: the parliamentary aegis of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and tnany political observers have identified it as fascist.

Fascism, like many political categories, has experienced a lexical inflation: it is now used indiscriminately in order to tar various political movements with the brush of disapprobation. Fascism, in the public mind, has come to be associated with Hitler, the gas chambers,

Assistant Professor of International Studies, Trinity College, Hartford, CT., USA.

Social Scientist, Vol. 24, Nos. 9-10, September-October.1996

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