chapter  5
17 Pages

Civil-society debates in India: Civil society against political society?


Civil society has been a key issue in Indian public debate ever since the state of emergency period in the 1970s. The state of emergency was declared by Indira Gandhi in June 1975 in order to cope with internal disturbances, and it ended in March 1977 with the election victory of the opposition. During that 19-month authoritarian interlude, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ruled by decree and civil liberties were suspended, civil society provided a symbolic framework of opposition to the authoritarian practices of the government. In order to fully understand the significance of this upsurge of a civil discourse, we need to go back further in history, however, to the phase of tutelary modernization and even to the struggle for independence.