India is currently undergoing an "institutionalized civil war," a fellow at the Center for International Affairs and former Indian government official told about 20 students in Leverett House Junior Common room last night.
Omi Marwah, a professor at Clark University who visited India last month, said that Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency two years ago in response to a power struggle between two factions of India's governing elite.
The conflict started in 1969 when some senior members of the ruling National Congress Party, unhappy with Gandhi's policies, began to organize opposition to her government's program, Marwah said.
The state of emergency did not end this opposition, Marwah continued, and now that it has been lifted, the conflict "may spread to the streets."
Marwah said that, party because of Gandhi's authoritarian policies, the Indian economy is the healthiest it has been in the past several years, but he added he did not recommend declaring a state of emergency to stimulate a faltering economy.
Marwah's talk also touched on India's sterilization program, the role of the press in the upcoming campaign and the political fortunes of Gandhi's son Sanjay, leader of the Indian Youth Congress.
When asked whether Indira Gandhi would relinquish power if she lost the election, Marwah, who served as chief electoral returns officer in India until 1967, said, "I am not a clairvoyant, but I don't think she will declare another state of emergency to stay in power. Anyway, we shall see for sure in three weeks."