When a journalist warns other journalists of being sycophantic to Governments at power…

Sidin Vadukut picks books which glorify Emergency and Sanjay Gandhi like no other.

S. Jagat Singh’s Sanjay Gandhi And Awakening Of Youth Power, published in 1977, starts with these immortal lines: “The entire world is amazed at the spectacular progress made by India in all important areas after the declaration of state of emergency on 25th June 1975. Within the short period, Indian prestige has grown hundredfold in the eyes of foreign countries whether friends or foes. Even those who obnoxiously criticized India on every pretext, have come to realize the importance of this crucial step taken by the Indian Government.”

Jagat Singh, who the title page tells us is the “Winner of International Literary Awards”, goes on to say: “Who will willingly submit to sterilization? Who will like to marry his son without a dowry? Who will waste his working time on keeping his house and his environment neat and clean? The greatness of Shri Sanjay Gandhi lies in the fact that he took up very unpopular programmes and vested them with a roaring popularity by dint of hard work and the force of his personality.”

M.J. Rao’s Youth Resurgence was published in late 1976 by Progressive Writers and Publishers, a company that may have been owned by senior Congress party members (later, V.C. Shukla was linked with the PWP and an associated newspaper, The Hitavada).

“The country had to be saved from subversive elements,” Rao writes. “The proclamation of Emergency thus marked a decisive phase in the country’s history and the beginning of new era of discipline and hard work.” And that, of course, is where Sanjay Gandhi comes in. A man who, Rao says with complete lack of irony, came up life the hard way, first through schooling in Dehradun and then through an apprenticeship in Rolls-Royce. Sanjay is the future: “History has still in its womb the future of this illustrious son of the Nehru family, but the omens are all to the good.”

No such restraint in our third book. Supreme Court advocate Piare Lal Sharma’s 1977 book is titled World’s Wisest Wizard—A Psychography Of Sanjay Gandhi’s Cosmic Mind. This was Sharma’s follow-up to a biography of Indira Gandhi titled World’s Greatest Woman. 

Sharma was no ordinary sycophant.

Sharma starts off by telling us in his author’s note that, “Writing is a natural gift to me and this book is a National Gift to you.” Then after an opening chapter that calls Sanjay Gandhi an “embodiment of arts and sciences”, we move on to a truly spectacular second chapter that imagines a conversation between Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi one night in March 1946. At one point, Feroze thinks to himself about his wife: “How typically she represents her class: My mind is a volcano. Her mind is an unfathomable ocean.” 

Sharma’s masterpiece goes on for another 400 pages or so.

He cautions how Governments at power can make people outright sycophantic:

I highly recommend it. Not just because it is utterly bonkers. But also because it tells us how easy it is for governments to convince ostensibly intelligent people to grovel at their feet. Because it tells us how easily shrewd governments can manufacture news and opinion. Sure, the books I picked out at the British Library represent the most outlandish end of the sycophancy spectrum. But let us keep in mind that all over India many other journalists found other less obviously sycophantic ways of perpetuating propaganda. It has happened before. And it could well happen again.

Hmm.. Many would say this is already happening..


One Response to “When a journalist warns other journalists of being sycophantic to Governments at power…”

  1. Jidnyasha Says:

    Sir, with due respect, can you cite such level sycophancy which you are say its already here.

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