|India's Energy Crisis |
The Battle for Power: In 1974 India topped the UN list of 30 developing countries branded as the most affected by the world energy crisis and oil price hike. That prompted a well organised battle with hopeful gains already being made. It also led to a push for trade with the raw material producing countries.
That the name "Microsoft" (short for microcomputer software and used without the hyphen) was, for the first time, used by Bill Gates in a letter to his partner, Paul Allen, dated November 29, 1975. Just short of a year later, on November 26, the name became a registered trademark. From humble beginnings in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a staff of 11 in 1975, the company now boasts of over 60,000 employees in more than 90 countries. Could anybody have guessed this back then?
TRUE TO HER WORD
Ambika Soni, new Youth Congress chief
"I don't intend to be a mere ambassador's wife."
Named after the great Indian mathematician, Aryabhatta was India's first satellite. Weighing 360 kg, the satellite was launched from a Russian Intercosmos rocket on April 19 into a near-earth orbit. Aryabhatta was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics and solar physics. A power failure halted experiments after four days in orbit. All signals from the spacecraft were lost after five days of operation. The satellite re-entered the earth's atmosphere in 1992.
Chas Nala Tragedy
In what has proved to be the worst-ever disaster in the history of mining in India, 372 coal miners were buried alive in the Chas Nala colliery in Bihar on December 26 when an 80 ft roof of coal between them and an adjoining waterlogged mine collapsed without warning. A shroud of mystery still surrounds the actual cause of the tragedy but according to officials of the Indian Iron and Steel Company, the firm that owns the mine, this should never have occurred since they conformed to international standards. Yet, a 120 sq ft hole in the roof did form, letting in an estimated seven million gallons of water per minute.
-By Dilip Bobb, January 15
| Paul McCartney at Mumbai Airport |
"I don't know if there is an audience for our kind of music in India."
"We would love to come and stage concerts in India to collect funds and help the distressed, only nobody has ever asked us to," said Paul McCartney, ex-Beatle and leader of the group Wings. Stopping in Mumbai, en route to Australia, McCartney is scheduled to give several concerts this month. The airport lounge, where McCartney relaxed with a cigarette and wife Linda, was barren of screaming fans who would normally have hounded him in any other part of the globe. "See, I don't know if there is an audience for our kind of music in India. If there is, Indians don't show it," he remarked petulantly. Discussing Indian music, he confessed, "I don't know much about it. George does. I know Ravi Shankar but even he couldn't teach me. Guess I'd take 30 years to learn." Their parting shot: "We'll be back."
Eyecatchers, December 15
DIMPLE Khanna: Is it her past record or is it her husband? Dimple's non-participation in films creates a greater stir than box office actors working four shifts. Accompanying her spouse Rajesh Khanna for all his shoots, she shuns publicity. She has left pr to hubby darling who says, "Publicity is very important for us." Eyecatchers, December 31
SHOLAY: The blurbs claim it is "the greatest star cast assembled-the greatest story ever told". The first claim may have some basis with the most popular stars at present working together. But to call it the "greatest story" is to insult moviegoers' intelligence.
-By K. Amladi, December 15
FIGURE IT OUT
Over 1,00,000 people were jailed without trial during the Emergency, twice the number during the 1942 struggle.
Democracy had been hijacked to serve personal interests
By M.J. Akbar
| PICTURE SPEAK |
|IN CHAINS: George Fernandes being produced in court during the Emergency |
The Emergency of 1975, imposed by Indira Gandhi, was like mumps or chicken pox on the body politic of India: you had to suffer from it once in order to become immune. If it had come later, it might have proved fatal.
It was not the first proclamation of the Emergency by the Union Government. Indira Gandhi's father, Jawaharlal Nehru, also imposed an Emergency when the bravado he had encouraged during the early stages of the war with China evaporated after humiliation in the Himalayas by the armies of Chairman Mao Zedong. But in 1962 Indians responded to the Emergency with a passionate display of unity and sacrifice, particularly after they learnt the bitter truth of defeat. The 1975 Emergency was imposed not because India was in danger but because Indira was in danger. The nation's reaction was stunned anger. Democracy had been hijacked to serve personal interests. It was the ultimate betrayal.
Everything that can be said has been written about when and why this Emergency was declared, and how it was manipulated through a craven Congress, an imprisoned Opposition and an obedient judiciary. Less is known about why it was lifted. According to a source very close to Mrs Gandhi, and one important enough in the political pecking order to be mentioned in the succession stakes after her assassination, she took the decision in December 1976 to call for the overdue general election. Word was put out to intelligence agencies and confidants to check the national mood. Her son Sanjay Gandhi, young, arrogant, dictatorial and completely insensitive to democracy and its values, was furious when he heard that his mother had gone "soft".
In Sanjay's scheme of things, they could have continued with the Emergency for another 20 years and, as he argued, "put this country right". Like Mussolini, he wanted the trains to run on time. That this would have turned India into another tinpot dictatorship of the kind prevalent all across the Third World was of little consequence to him. He put enormous pressure on his mother to reverse gear.
In the meantime, astrologers, the usual musicians of India's political symphonies, came into play and proclaimed that any announcement could be made only in the more auspicious second half of January. The decision remained in doubt, said my source, till the first few days of January, when Mrs Gandhi decided that she needed the legitimacy of a popular victory to remain in power. Her words were significant as she took her decision: "If we do not go to the people now, we will never go to them again."
Cynics might take a less flattering view, and heaven knows that Mrs Gandhi gave sufficient reason for cynicism. But, with the perspective of three decades, I do believe that she was more a child of Nehru than the mother of Sanjay. Power was important to her, but, in the final analysis, not more important than nationalism. We were lucky that the Emergency was a weapon that she chose to use, because by reversing it, Mrs Gandhi also made this Constitutional provision impotent forever.
Indian unity has shown the tensile strength to withstand rebellions in the north-west and north-east and murmurs in the south. But it is only as strong as Indian democracy, for it is democracy that gives every Indian a practical stake in his country's present and future. The Emergency of 1975 was a turning point precisely because time stood still during those 19 months.
(The writer is editor, The Asian Age.)