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16-January-2024

Q1) Why is the decade of 1960 known as the ‘dangerous decade’? How did India surmount the challenges faced during this era?

The 1960s in India is often referred to as a “dangerous decade” because it was marked by several significant political, social, and economic events that were a threat to India’s democracy and sovereignty, itself. Some of the events which put India in a precarious position are as follows:

  1. Poitical Instability:
  2. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in May 1964, and PM shastri passed away in 1966, which generated speculations about the question of succession, twice in the decade. It was an important challenge for an incipient nation.
  3. Rise of regional parties led to the fragmentation of power centres which further made the functioning of the political apparatus difficult.
  4. Political defections were increasingly becoming the order of the day. E.g., the phrase “aaya ram gaya ram” was used commonly to define defections.
  5. A sense of political change was witnessed with non-congress governments in states and rise of political coalitions. E.g., Samyukt Vidhayak Dal.
  6. Economic turmoil:
  7. Decline in agricultural production led to serious food shortage. Failed monsoons and drought further intensified the problem.
  8. Indian economy witnessed low growth rates and high inflation. The country’s balance of payments situation remained precarious
  9. The government was forced to borrow heavily from international lenders to finance its development programs.
  10. This period witnessed a drop in industrial production and exports combined with a sharp rise in military expenditure.
  11. Social unrest:
  12. This period witnessed agitations based on linguistic supremacy which had a detrimental impact on the integrity and unity of the country e.g., DMK in Tamil Nadu and the Andhra Pradesh People’s Association (APPA) in Andhra Pradesh.
  13. Resurgence of the anti-caste movement in India was witnessed during this period, with Dalits demanding greater rights and social equality.
  14. Security threats:
  15. War with neighbours: India engaged in two wars with its inimical neighbours viz. India-China war (1962), India-Pakistan war (1965).
  16. Internal security challenges: The decade of 1960s saw a rise in anti-state movements across the country. E.g., Naxalite movement; Mizo National Front (M.N.F.), led by Laldenga, demanded independence for Mizoram in 1966.
  17. This period saw a rise in communal violence across the country, which threatened the integrity of India. e.g., the Gujarat communal riots of 1969 resulted in the deaths of over 500 people.

To surmount these challenges, the Indian government launched a series of reforms such as:

  1. The challenges of threats to internal and external security were met by robust Institutional response. E.g., Border Security Force (BSF) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) were formed to cater to numerous security threats.
  2. Green Revolution aimed to increase agricultural productivity through the use of high-yield seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation. This helped India become self-sufficient in food production and also generated employment opportunities in rural areas.
  3. Indira Gandhi through her inclusive policies tried to give a sense of consolidation to the country.
  4. India adopted the Import Substitution policy, which aimed to reduce imports and encourage the domestic production, reducing the trade deficits. E.g., government gave various incentives and subsidies to domestic industries to promote their growth.
  5. In 1966, India devalued its currency, the rupee, by 36.5% to address the balance of payments crisis. This made Indian exports cheaper and helped boost export earnings.
  6. In 1969, the Indian government nationalized 14 major banks to expand banking services to rural areas and promote financial inclusion.

Even though several experts were pessimistic about India’s chances of treading through the dangerous decade successfully, India not only charted its way out but laid foundation for a more robust and dynamic growth in the future.

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