Why did Pi and his Family leave India for Canada? Yann Martel does not go into depth on this subject – This introductory lesson to Life of Pi will cover the Indian Emergency - the circumstances that forced Pi's family to leave India which occurred from June 1975 to March 1977.
The Indian Emergency 1975-1977:
Pi remembers his childhood in Pondicherry with fondness and a sense of peace and fascination at living in a zoo. However, the reality for Indians at this time was a far different one from the imagined world of Pi. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India at this time and she enacted several controversial decisions. This period of time came to be called the Indian Emergency because it was a period of time in which the Constitution of the country was suspended and police were given extraordinary powers such as the arrest and detention of political activists and curfews upon the population.
This lesson will allow students to contextualize the political period in which Pi’s childhood in India is taking place.
The Indian Emergency of 25th June 1975-21st March 1977 was a 21 month period, when President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, upon advice by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, declared a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, effectively bestowing on her the power to rule by decree, suspending elections and civil liberties. This was a dramatic turn in the Indian political affairs. The democracy was brought to a grinding halt and all the fundamental rights and legal remedies protected by the Constitution of The Republic of India were suspended. Indira Gandhi tried to defend the emergency on the grounds that she was trying to protect the State and the Indian people. Nevertheless, her emergency rule faced immense criticism and is undoubtedly one of the most controversial periods of the political history of Independent India.