Arvind Narrain’s book is an excellent analysis of the present-day reality of India … he signs off in the last chapter with a positive note about the multiple ways to counter the grave threats. A must read for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.’
—Mihir Desai, senior advocate and human rights lawyer
‘Analytically sharp and empirically robust, Arvind Narrain’s Undeclared Emergency … throws a sharp focus on the punitive nature of the legal regime, the criminalisation of dissent and the power exercised by the mob in contemporary India. All those who care for the future of our Republic should read this book.’
—Ramachandra Guha, historian and public intellectual
This book is perhaps the first to capture the legal armature of the Indian state in the process of its ongoing metamorphosis into a Hindu-supremacist state … The reader is invited to be, not a mourner at a funeral, but a fighter for change … A book that illuminates and inspires, it is an urgently needed resource for young Indians.’
—Kavita Krishnan, secretary, AIPWA; politburo member, CPI-ML
‘A powerful historical chronicle of the tumultuous events between May 2014 to the present … It is at once a comprehensive, well researched and richly indexed book as also a passionate call to all those who are committed to constitutional values … to fight against the totalitarian state from consolidating itself.’
—V. Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties
In 1975, the Indira Gandhi government declared Emergency in India, unveiling an era of State excesses, human rights violations, the centralisation of power and the dismantling of democracy. Nearly half a century later, the phrase ‘undeclared emergency’ gathers currency as citizens and analysts struggle to define the nature of India’s present crisis.
In Undeclared Emergency, Arvind Narrain presents a devastatingly thorough examination of the nature of this emergency—a systematic attack on the rule of law that hits at the foundation of a democracy, its Constitution. This clear-eyed legal analysis of its implications also documents an ongoing history of constitutional subversion, one that predates the Narendra Modi-led NDA government—a lineage of curtailed freedoms, censorship, preventive detention laws and diluted executive accountability.
Is history repeating itself then? Not quite. This book is an account of an inaugural era in Indian history. Narrain shows that the Modi government, unlike the Congress government of 1975, draws on popular support and this raises the dangerous possibility that today’s authoritarian regime could become tomorrow’s totalitarian state.
A lament, the Undeclared Emergency is also a war cry. It charts an alternative inheritance of resistance, acts big and small from the Emergency of 1975, the current day and times long gone. Dissent, he says, is an Indian tradition.
The Second Coming is at hand, and Narrain reckons that we have a responsibility to determine what it will look like.