Distinguished commentator Inder Malhotra writes on Rediff.com that the Emergency established that India would be governed, to the extent it can be governed, democratically or not at all. He further says:
“No one with any claim to rationality would dispute that the Emergency in the mid-seventies of the last century was a sordid chapter in modern Indian history. With a single stroke of the President’s pen on the night of June 25, 1975, the world’s largest democracy was reduced to a tin-pot dictatorship, one of the many then infesting the Third World.
“To those of us who lived through it, the Emergency was a 19-month nightmare. It took an excruciatingly long time to flush out of the system the poison it had pumped into the body politic. In my biography of Indira Gandhi, published in 1989, I had called it ‘her worst mistake, indeed cardinal sin.’ There is no reason to change that opinion.
“No fewer than 100,000 people were arrested and detained indefinitely without trial; many times that number was harassed mercilessly. What a hammer-blow it was to people’s liberty as democratic decencies were chillingly underscored in the Supreme Court, by then totally pliant to the prime minister....
“There are other reasons for the changing view of the Emergency. A very important one is that much more than half the country’s population was born after 1975. It knows little about the Emergency and cares even less. Moreover, with the passage of time, people are realising that governments are capable of doing terrible things without a formal proclamation of the Emergency.”