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The Emergency: A Personal History

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  886 ratings  ·  93 reviews
A searing indictment of the suspension of democracy In June 1975, a state of Emergency was declared, where civil liberties were suspended and the press muzzled. In the dark days that followed, Coomi Kapoor, then a young journalist, personally experienced the full fury of the establishment. Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay and his coterie unleashed a reign of terror ...more
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published June 15th 2016 by Penguin (first published June 15th 2015)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
If – like I was – you are slightly hesitant to buy a book that declares itself a personal history of the Emergency, since you’d rather read an impersonal one, don’t be. While Kapoor does detail her extended family’s predicament in the 19 turbulent months where India faced its biggest danger as a democracy (including a full chapter on the escapades of her brother-in-law, Subramanian Swamy*), the bulk of the book is devoted to providing an overview of the Emergency, the immediate events that lead ...more
Sailen Dutta
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Mummy meri car gayee, beta meri sarkar gayee."

This hilarious line captures the end of the Emergency.
But the 21 months of Emergency weren't hilarious at all. The present generation needs to know what the Emergency really was. And I can not write just a sentence or even a paragraph to summarise the Emergency. We need to know in sufficient detail what the Emergency meant to the people of that time. Coomi Kapoor has done a brilliant job in recounting the horrors of the Emergency. In true journalist
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-authors
Emergency, even after 40 years continues to be a subject of much interest. Even after all these years this 21 month period is probably one of the most interesting subjects to write on and read about. Coomi Kapoor's work is the latest addition in the list of books discussing that dark period in Indian history.
These months of emergency that lasted from June 1975-Februaury 1977 have always intrigued me as well, just like many Indians. One of the reason was to know how Indians survived without basi
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Dark Age of Indian democracy - 25th June 1975-21st March 1977 was a 21 month period "the Emergency". In the name of national security, Mother and Son showed their Nepotism holding our nation at hostage.

Thousands of arrests , Censorship in news ,Family planning program , Beautification projects vs slum clearance etc and above all a brillante Small Car project.

It’s a must read books every India. Which covers the darkest history of Indian after British rule.
Girl from Mumbai
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might.- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru “The Emergency – A personal history” by Coomi Kapoor is a riveting account of one of the darkest & most controversial time in post independent India. This was the time when Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India imposed a rule which gave her the authority to suspend elections, revoke civil liberties, crush fundamental rights and censor the press.

There are various accounts and opinions about it where some
We often hear the quote from Spiderman "With great power comes great responsibility.", I would like to add "so comes corruption of people and erosion of ideologies.". This book is all about that. It tells us the story of how the Emergency rule had turned into a weapon to ruthlessly crush anyone and anybody who opposes, to settle personal vendettas and to disregard all civil liberties. It was truly the dark time of Indian Democracy.

It says on the title it's a personal history, but the author has
Shriyansh Raj Mishra
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Curiosity and Goodreads recommendation compelled me to pick up this book. And I am glad I read it!
This book is a well researched and well documented account of 19 months of horrors unleashed on the masses. It was an eye opening journey. Even though the title says it's "A personal history" but the book actually encompasses an overall view of the Emergency period. The timeline of book covers everything, of how things came to such a point, what happened during emergency, and how it came to an end.
Muthu Raj
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-kindle
4.5 Stars (I always round up ;))
TLDR; An excellent read. Highly recommended.

The book in itself is a majestical work. But I find that the rating is comparatively low on Goodreads. 3.87 Might not be such a bad rating once we take into account Goodreads' official legend, but I wonder if I am supposed to see the lack of something that made the 125 odd members give it low ratings on an average. After all, I am a relatively young reader. But, I have resisted the temptation to bump off a star.

Now, to t
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A must-read and a thought-provoking personal account of how the grave Indian Emergency of 1975 murdered Democracy in its own Temple, India, the Largest Democracy of the World.

The book shows How life was during those horrific twenty-one months when civil liberties were curtailed, the Press was censored, any sort of Opposition was crushed, put behind bars and charged under non-bailable draconian rules, institutions of democracy suspended and the Constitution was bent accordingly to please the Indi
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a journalist from The Indian Express with Pro-BJP leanings and somewhat lop-sided, this book still serves as a gateway to the dark and desperate times of 19-months long Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.
In my opinion, writers like Kuldip Nayar and Bipan Chandra have written their accounts of this period as well, and are probably as objective as their other works (I haven't read them though) this very personal account cannot be dismissed just because of the ideological stand of the a
Ramesh Naidu
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is remarkable that what potentially was the most dangerous tipping point for the world's largest democracy seems to have been completely forgotten. Worse yet, when I talked with people who lived through it , they seem to have rosy memories and actually beleive that it was beneficial for the country . This book is a gripping personal history with vivid details of the victims , the perpetrators and the unsung heroes who actually managed to save a country. It is a must read for everybody who gre ...more
Kanishka Sirdesai
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very chilling portrayal of dark days where the world's largest democracy was thwarted to favor an old woman and her deranged son. It is ironical that many characters behind this calamity are still active in public life. A truly haunting read! ...more
Aniruddh Sudharshan
Hi! what are you doing.
See book. Take. Read. Pass on to others.
Yash Vijayvargiya
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
One of the most personal and engaging take on done to death 'Emergency Genre' from the famous Indian Express Columnist. It is as snoopy as her columns. :D ...more
Yeshvendra Pratap Singh
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Twenty-fifth of June Nineteen Seventy-Five was a sweltering day, made more uncomfortable by the frequent power breakdowns at the Indian Express office at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Delhi's Fleet street."

The first line of the book, also marks the first day of the 21 month long Emergency, intelligently pointing out power breakdown on the street where India's major national dailies are published; indicating it's initiation itself with stringent media censorship followed by curb on the freedom of spe
Sajith Kumar
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
India is admittedly the world’s largest democracy. We use to take pride in it, often made all the more magnificent when compared to other nations comparable in wealth to India. We proved to the world that democracy is not a rich man’s fad. This country’s dedication to democracy is all the more remarkable, considering the prodigious variety of languages, religions, castes and ethnicities. It is no secret that Western democracies are generally single-language, single-religion establishments. Even ...more
Akash Patel
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In what is a personal first hand experience of dark times of the emergency, Coomi presents an account which is horrifying. Even to someone who knows the excesses of that period, the details in this book will shake to the core.

Her writing style is extremely fluid and book is divided into various chapters for convenience. But from all of this emerges an in-depth understanding of how Indira and Sanjay ran india like a kingdom with no regards for aw, rules or legal requirements.

We can also draw imp
Arun Aggarwal
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A rare fast read for a non fiction.
hemant mathur
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Best book on emergency era, simply unputdownable first hand narrative. I finished Coomi Kapoor's book over a single weekend.

Her book is well researched and authoritative work on emergency. Best part is its written with an average reader in mind and book is neatly structured into chapters thus making it an easy and informative read (this is a rare quality when you compare with some other authors who makes a cacophony of chronology and personalities).

Coomi's work let me form a definitive option
Sunil Sreenivasan
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I belong to the generation that was born after 1980. For me, prior to reading this book, the only knowledge I had about the emergency was restricted to information such as Dates when emergency was declared, what is an emergency etc. What I did not know was the extent of atrocities committed during the period. I knew the emergency was dark period for Indian Democracy, but details as to why it was so eluded me or rather I had not strived to find out more about it. Therefore, when this book on emer ...more
Sujay Malik
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot has been said about the imposition of The Emergency in our country. And this is even more relevant in the times when 'intolerance' debates are becoming food and drink of plethora of media houses (some pseudo media as I like to call them). That's precisely why reading this book is even more relevant. Relevant because we need to put our heads down, ignore the histrionics and jingoism around us and ponder over what could happen if leaders are power hungry and mindset is of subverting the enti ...more
Roopesh Mathur
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very well written, concise and personal story of a dark chapter in Indian history, when the country came perilously close to becoming a North Korea. The author personally experienced the deprivation and terror and provides a first hand, albeit biased view of the period.

The figures of Ramnath Goenka, JP, Subramanian Swamy and George Fernandes stand tall, who suffered much but did not yield. Interestingly, the Opposition did not as much win; and was handed the victory by the people
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read book especially to those born in the 80s and later in India. Coomi Kapoor chronicles through personal experience what has just been kept as a footnote in history textbooks, India's darkest 19 months during the Emergency.

An insecure Prime Minister and her delusional son ran riot and held a nation hostage to their whims and fancies. Just like Nazi Germany, there were the courtiers, who encouraged it and merry settling their own personal feuds as innocent people were put in jai
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The Emergency" is a tale of the emergency period in India. The torture, harassment that the Indians went through in those 21 months is very explicitly put up. Gandhi family/Congress had ensured such scars to the Indian society that the anguish still stays among people who had been witness to the Emergency period. Sanjay Gandhi, a spoilt brat made things worse. While his agenda like family planning, beautification were good thoughts . But good thoughts are of no good if not complemented with goo ...more
Ashok Sridharan
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Authored by veteran journalist Coomi Kapoor, The Emergency: A Personal History recounts the chain of events from the imposition of the emergency in June 1975 and ending with the defeat of the Indira Gandhi led Congress party in the national elections of 1980.

Its a chilling reminder of a terrifying period when, India descended into a fascist dictatorship reminiscent of Soviet Union during the Brezhnev years. Opposition leaders were jailed, civil rights were suspended, the press was gagged and dis
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a must-read book for all those who would want to know about the horrendous 21 odd months – the dark period of India post the British Rule- the Emergency!

For many people especially youngsters of this age, it would be shocking and at the same time educational to understand about the period when – India the largest Democracy had a period called Emergency. A shocking period of more than a year and half where India had a Government of the people, by the people and for the people - which susp
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
What will be the outcome when nepotism and cynicism drove the nation ?
I was unable to contemplate the frailty of democracy during that era whenever my dad used to speak about emergency.This personal account and subject was indeed helpful to retrieve the happenings, A definite buy book for this generation whom consider politics and history as forbidden subject. The book totally deals with cynical ambitions of two despicable personalities whom fought the battle such unfair and how opposition lead
Smrthi Harits
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author tells the story of the dark days of Indian democracy interwoven with her personal experience of those days. For people from my generation, the emergency is a distant past who's account we have never heard of since it makes no appearance in history text books or in main stream media narrative. The book gives a detailed description of all the excesses committed during the Emergency by Indira and Sanjay Gandhi. Suspension of fundamental rights, press censorship, arrest of opposition lead ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Emergency of 1975 was unlike anything that India had seen before, save perhaps for the plundering rule of the British Empire. Mass arrests of even those on the fringe of opposition politics, negation of fundamental rights and freedom of expression, blatant extortion, torture of the incarcerated and excesses to enforce family planning and slum removal jump out page after page of this thoroughly researched book.  
What makes this book extraordinary is Coomi Kapoor's brilliant narration of event
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Emergency years by Coomi Kapoor stands true to its name. I started this book with trepidation that it may be carrying too much of her personal details which may not interest me but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book is a very good blend of personal experiences and the social scene of that time. For all those born in 80s or later, this book is a must read as it throws ample light on what exactly Emergency was all about.

After reading this book what surprises me to no end is the
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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
14 likes · 1 comments
“The National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, supported the Emergency throughout, and cautiously removed the quote ‘Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might’ from its masthead.” 4 likes
“Meanwhile, the Times, London, ran a full-page advertisement on 15 August protesting the Emergency, proclaiming, ‘Today is India’s Independence Day. Don’t let the light go out on Indian Democracy.’ It was signed by 700 prominent world citizens, intellectuals, writers, artistes and MPs who had contributed towards the payment for the ad and signed the appeal.” 4 likes
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