In defence of democracy; Affirm peoples’ resistance

June 23, 2010

New Delhi, June 25-26 2010

In defence of voices that refuse to be silenced words that inspire us to speak up images that challenge oppression

On June 25th/26th 2010 we will remember the 35th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency. To understand this past is to engage with the present, and we invite you to a two day gathering in the national capital city to revisit the memories of the Emergency, and understand how it shaped – and continues to shape – the India of today.

The swift introduction of a number of draconian laws, the suppression of voices of dissent, and the attempts to censor the media and citizens, all these continue to remind us of those harrowing days for Indian democracy. But there are important differences. In 1975, many mainstream political parties had united to oppose the Emergency. Today, most of them are on the same side of the fence – and on the other side are struggles, protests and peoples movements that envision a different India. A peaceful India that guarantees equity, equality, justice, democratic rights and freedom of expression to all its citizens, unconcerned with their class, creed, caste, gender, ethnicity or political ideology.

We invite you to join us in defence of the voices, words and images that fought for justice, human rights and dignity of life during that Emergency, and continue to do so today. Activists, artists, film makers, journalists, researchers, scholars, writers and others will join hands and minds to explore what it was like to work, live and survive during the 1970s, what we have learnt from that experience, and what is it like today. Part of the discussion will focus on the impact that this undeclared Emergency is having on the lives of people in the city of Delhi, and how they are resisting it.

The discussions will culminate the next day in a series of open-air performances that highlight the nature of struggle before us – again, in a plurality of voices, words and images.

We hope you will join us.


In defence of democracy

Date: June 25, 2010 (Friday) / Time: 10 am – 6 pm
Venue: Teen Murti Bhavan Auditorium (Nearest Metro Station: Central Secretariat or Krishi Bhawan)

Affirm peoples’ resistance

Date: June 26, 2010 (Saturday) / Time: 4 pm – 7 pm
Venue: Connaught Place Central Park (Nearest Metro Station: Rajiv Chowk)

 “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value…. How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril…” Baba Saheb Dr B R Ambedkar


Tentative Schedule: June 25, 2010

09:30-10:00 Registration & tea

10:00-11:00 Inaugural session – ‘Remembering the Emergency’

Ajit Bhattacharjea, veteran journalist
Sumanta Bannerjee, journalist and author
Surendra Mohan, political activist
Nandita Haksar, human rights activist

Interspersed with poetry readings by

Gauhar Raza, Urdu
K. Satchidanadan, English / Malayalam
Manglesh Dabral, Hindi

11:00-11:30 Tea Break

11:30-1:30 Second Session –

Introduction of the graphic novel “Delhi Calm” by Vishwajyoti Ghosh

‘Defending Democracy: the Undeclared Emergency’

Arundhati Roy, writer
Abani Roy, Political activist & Member of Parliament
Ashok Chaudhury, social activist

Open Discussion

1:30-2.30 Lunch

2:30-3:15 Film Screening: “Prisoners of Conscience” (Zameer ke Bandi) by Anand Patwardhan / 1978
On political prisoners in India before, during and after the State of Emergency in 1975-77

3:15-3:40 Tea Break

3:40-6:30 Third Session – ‘Challenges before people; way forward’

* Nitya Ramakrishnan, lawyer

1 Madhu Kishwar, Manushi
2 Ramendar Kumar, DSS
3 Manisha Sethi, JTSA

* Dunu Roy, political ecologist

1 Shanta Toofani, Activist
2 Umesh Singh, Activist
3 Bhalaswa Lok Shakti Manch
4 Suneeta, Jagori

* D. Bandopandhyaya, economic Analyst

1 Prakash, Lok Raj Sanghattan
2 Sasi, HRA
3 Sandip Singh, AISA
4 Dr. Rajeev Dimri, AICCTU


Organized by:

Ankur, AICCTU, AISA, CACIM, Committee for Judicial Accountability & Reforms, Delhi Citizen’s Forum, Delhi Forum, Delhi Shramik Sangthan, Delhi Solidarity Group, Focus, Hazard Center, HRA, Insaf, Inter-Cultural Resources, Jagori, Kriti, Lok Raj Sangthan, National Alliance of People’s Movement, National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers, New Socialist Initiative, New Trade Union Initiative, Nirantar, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, PEACE, PUCL, PUDR, Saheli