“The fight for social justice would continue. There were others who would continue to be the torchbearers of that struggle,” read closing lines of the last chapter of the book, The struggle within – a memoir on the Emergency. This book penned by Ashok Chakravarti is an insight into the world of a political activist who witnessed the trials and tribulations during the Emergency of 1975.

In about 15 chapters, author takes us through the life of Arjun, author’s alias. The times were of uncertainty and tyranny prevailed. To overthrow the growing dictatorial regime of Mrs Indira Gandhi goverment, many political parties came together. Arjun was one among them. When the politicians were being arrested and thrown in the prison, Arjun hopped, skipped and jumped to evade the system. But he continued to participate in the struggle against the dictatorship, anonymously. His mouthpiece was a way to ignite and evoke the masses, especially the labours, to fight against the injustice.

With the word emergency in the title of this book, I was hoping to get the juiciest details from the Emergency era. However, this book turned out to be an out-and-out memoir. Tons of experiences were recalled. The discrepancies of the then government were highlighted from time to time. But it wasn’t really enough to satiate me. Nonetheless, the book ably gave me a glimpse into the gory reality of the time such as unfair elections, whisper campaigns, indiscriminate firings, mass sterilizations, imprisonment of politicians etc. Also, the descriptions given remind us that ruling political parties may change but the way of working needs to undergo a sea change so that poverty and inequality are eradicated. 

Some of the quotes that did leave an impact on me –

“The answer is to have a democratic state that is responsive to the needs of the poor and exploited, such that economic issues are dealt with effectively and expeditiously. I believe we need to have a constitutional democracy with well-entrenched laws that cannot be subverted by a dictator such as Mrs Gandhi, but which at the same time has scope for extension and deepening of these democratic rights.”

“The country seemed to have gone quiet. The regime was forcefully and quickly  consolidating its hold on all the levers of power.”

“Her admirers now began to tout her as the new saviour of India, an avatar of Goddess Durga, the vanquisher of all.”

I am sure these quotes will leave you thinking because there exists an uncanny similarity in certain aspects. History on the verge of repeating itself, maybe?

Time will tell.

But for now, if you want to read a political non-fiction which doesn’t get boring or isn’t straight-jacketed then you can pick up this book.

To buy this book, pls click – https://amzn.to/3hv9Qsk

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