Portrait: George Fernandes

5 June 1977 | 7 min 19 s

With this portrait of the socialist George Fernandes for Weltspiegel magazine, Navina Sundaram portrays another political facet of post-colonial Indian democracy. The trade union leader led a passionate struggle against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency from 1975 to 1977, which sent him and 38,000 others to prison. With the support of Socialist International, Fernandes campaigned for his party from prison. After the electoral victory of a broad alliance formed by parties that opposed the Emergency, he was released and appointed Minister of Postal Services in the new government. Sundaram visits the charismatic politician, who is forthright in his scepticism about India’s crippling bureaucracy, the privileges of parliamentarians and the feudal ‘petition system’.