Socialism in India: A Long Road Ahead - Daily Current Affair Article

CONTEXT:

Samajwadi party chief launched a perfume known as Samajwadi Sugandha or Fragrance of Socialism.

INTRODUCTION:

  • Socialism is a politico-economical concept which means state ownership of the means of production and distribution.
  • The objective of socialism here is to ensure that the production should fulfill the need and desires of its public and distribution should be fair and equitable.
  • Citizens in a socialist society rely on the government for everything, from food to healthcare.
  • Examples of socialist countries include the Russia, Cuba, China, and Venezuela.
  • In contemporary world, no country is socialist in true sense.

EMERGENCE OF SOCIALISM:

During the industrial revolution in Europe, the exploitative nature of capitalism became visible. Under the influence of liberalism, the state did not draft or enacted labour legislation and the industrialist started exploiting the workers in the absence of labour legislations.

The workers were forced to work for more hours but were paid lesser wages. As a result, they were not made a party to the profit and the capitalists started becoming richer. This created income inequality and other social concerns.

It was at this stage that Karl Marx emerged and challenged the ideology of Liberalism. He held that, it is not freedom but the economic equality, is the need of the hour. He advocated a class struggle, in which capitalists will be defeated and capitalism will come to an end and there will be established Socialism.

SOCIALISM IN INDIA:

  • Socialism in India grew as a political movement in response to the exploitation done by the Britishers and the zamindars. It was popularized by many leaders and after independence, India adopted socialism as its economic setup.
  • During independence struggle in 1920s and 1930s, a powerful left-wing group developed contributing to the radicalization of the national movement. Socialist ideas acquired roots in the Indian soil and socialism became accepted creed of the Indian youth whose urges came to be symbolized by Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • Gradually there emerged two powerful political parties of the Left, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Congress Socialist Party (CSP).
  • In Bombay, S.A Dange published a pamphlet Gandhi and Lenin and started the first socialist weekly, The Socialist.
  • Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose toured the country attacking Imperialism, capitalism and landlordism and preaching the idea of socialism.
  • The revolutionary nationalist led by Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh also turned to be socialism.
  • In 1928, Nehru joined hand with Bose to organize the Independence for India League to fight for complete independence and the socialist revision of economic structure of society.
  • Within the congress the socialist tendency found reflection in the election of Nehru as president for 1936 and 1937 and of Subhash Bose for 1938 and 1939 and in the formation of Congress Socialist Party.

SOCIALISM AS PROPAGATED AND ESPOUSED BY THE LIKES OF ACHARYA NARENDRA DEV

  • Acharya Narendra Dev was one of the founders of the socialist movement in India.
  • He was president of the inaugural meeting of the All-India Congress Socialist Conference held at Patna in 1934.
  • He was the founder of the All-India Kisan Sabha.

Idea of socialism:

  • He was opposed to the utopian socialism or social reformism. He believed that the establishment of scientific socialism would be the solution to India's problems.
  • He was an exponent of democratic socialism. He considered the working class as the leaders of a movement and the peasants and the intelligentsia as the aide against the imperialism.
  • He advocated for a unity between the lower middle classes, the working class and the peasantry.
  • He felt that the masses could be made class conscious if they were mobilized on economic issues.
  • He advocated for the abolition of landlordism, like Nehru and Bose and giving the land to the tiller, cancellation of debt, availability of cheap credit facilities to the people, and establishment of the village government known as the 'Co-operative Commonwealth'.

POST INDEPENDENCE INDIA: SOCIALISM BY RAM MANOHAR LOHIA AND JAI PRAKASH NARAYAN

Jai Prakash Narayan and Socialism:

  • Jaya Prakash Narayan was the main force behind the formation of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934.
  • He began his political career as a participant in the non- cooperation movement.
  • He was influenced by Marxism
  • He was also influenced by M.N. Roy.
  • He did not support Russian Socialism.
  • He regarded socialism as a theory of socio-economic construction.
  • He was a staunch critic of the theory that men are biologically unequal. He said that the inequality in society exists due to the unequal control of the means of production and distribution.
  • In 1940 he advocated collective ownership and nationalization of the heavy industries, shipping and mining.
  • He made Gandhi’s socialism as the base of his socialism. He said that grass-root level democracy should be introduced in India. The village should be made a self-governing unit. He favoured the distribution of land to the cultivator, co-operative farming, and cancellation of agriculture debt.

Ram Manohar Lohia and Socialism:

  • Rammanohar Lohia became the most prominent socialist leader in the post-independence period.
  • He was active in bringing about the Asian Socialist Conference of 1953.
  • In 1952, he pleaded for greater incorporation of Gandhian ideas in socialist thought. He advocated decentralization of the economy based on the revival of the cottage industries.
  • He gave a theory of mobilization of the backward classes. He said that the socialists could capture power by mobilizing the backward classes.
  • He held caste to be one of the most powerful exploiting institutions in India.
  • The backward classes, according to him, should form the government to introduce the policies based on the principles of socialism.
  • He believed that there was constant clash between the well-organized castes and the loosely organized classes. According to him, Caste represented conservative forces in the society.

SOCIALISM VS COMMUNISM VS CAPITALISM

FACTORS SOCIALISM COMMUNISM CAPITALISM
Ideology From each according to his ability and to each according to his work. From each according to his ability and to each according to his need. Ideology of Liberalism.
Economic planning Central planning or private entities. Central planning with public participation. Free market guides the planning.
Ownership of resources Individuals can own personal property but all industrial and production capacity is managed by government. It is a community ownership of the means of production and distribution. Private ownership
Class Everyone will become worker and there will be only one class i.e., worker class in the society. It is a classless society. Two classes: capitalist and worker class.
Production Production for societal needs Production for basic needs. Production for profit.
Originator Charles Fourier Karl Marx Adam Smith

SOCIALISM: AS A WAY AND MEANS OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION, REDUCING INEQUALITY.

  • Every ideology has its own pros and cons. Nothing is perfect. This applies to socialism as well. Democratic socialism, as adopted by India, has many benefits. It includes:
  • More equal society: through progressive taxation, reduces income inequality.
  • Reduction of Poverty: through welfare schemes and minimum basic income.
  • Reduces excess of free market: through abolishing monopoly and promoting spirit of competition.
  • Universal health care: through reducing out of pocket expenditure.
  • Public sector enterprises: gives equal opportunity to everyone without doing injustice results into reduction of Poverty and inequality.
  • Socialism promotes more cohesion in the society.

SOCIALISM AS A POLITICAL SETUP IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA

In contemporary India, socialism is used as a political concept to fetch votes rather than economic concept. No doubt, India is still walking on the path laid down by the early socialist ideas but things have changed. Many leaders are using socialism as a tool to fetch their own interests. This can be evident from the forming of many political parties on socialistic lines but not admiring the core concepts of socialism.

Judiciary has well stated its tilt towards securing the Socialistic nature of Indian democracy by placing Socialism as the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

INDIAN ECONOMY: A BLEND OF SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM

In a mixed economy, private and public sectors go side by side. The government directs economic activity in some socially important areas of the economy, the rest being left to the free market to operate. Before Independence, Indian economy was a free market economy. But post-independence, we adopted the mixed economy system, i.e., a blend of socialism and capitalism.

This is evident through:

  • Co-existence of Public and Private sector.
  • Planned development through grassroot level.
  • Monopoly of government in some sectors like nuclear energy, Defense, space etc. Rest all are open for private players.
  • Economic welfare by the Government whereas Economic development by the private sector.
  • It safeguarded by the Constitution of India under article 39(b) and 39(c).

CONCLUSION:

Socialism should be used to uplift the people from widespread poverty, malnutrition and hunger. It should provide employment and livelihood opportunities to the downtrodden section of the society. It shouldn’t be used as a political tool to divide the society. After all, the welfare of the citizen of a country is counted and the healthy citizens make the healthy democracy.

SOURCES

  • Wikipedia
  • Bipan Chandra history
  • Ramesh Singh economy
  • Investopedia
  • Laxmikant Indian polity
General Studies Paper 1
  • Indian Society