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1. Analyse the concept of ‘New Socialism’ advocated by Dr. Lohia.

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia did his PhD (The topic was ‘Salt Taxation in India’) in Germany. Suffice to say, the duration of his stay, from 1929 to 1933 in Weimar Republic made a great impression on him. He witnessed firsthand how a democracy dies. While he loathed Hitler and the Nazis with their Ultra-Nationalism and Antisemitism, he did not have much good thing to say about KPD (Communist Party of Germany) either and while he acknowledged importance of Marxist thought and used various Marxist model of analysis, he was very much against the Soviet brand of rigid, almost dogmatic Marxism. So, it was of little surprise, he held great sympathy for SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany). The ideology of SPD which is while Marxian was not strictly Marxist and much more fluid influenced him greatly

When he returned to India, along with Jai Prakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Deva and various other Socialist leaders, he founded CSP or Congress Socialist Party. Unlike JP or Acharya, both of whom were Marxist (Acharya to this day, in my eyes one of the greatest Marxist theoretician in this subcontinent) he advocated a decidedly non-Marxist line. He held that Class analysis of Marx, which is true in European context, is not true in the context of India. While his assertion that Class does not play any major role in India is a matter of dispute, his assertion that Caste is a crucial factor, in many cases more crucial than Class in India, something JP and Acharya failed to consider sufficiently, is beyond any debate

He practiced what he preached and as a follower and admirer of Gandhiji he participated in Freedom Struggle even though he neither believed in Gandhi’s doctrine nor did he believe in peaceful struggle, he was also very distrustful of Sardar Patel lead Congress Right Faction, which he believed was too compromise prone, and served the interests of Indian Capitalist class. Once a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, a fellow leader of Congress Left, Lohia became a fierce critic of him after he compromised with Congress Right. Partition hit Lohia very hard, and he held Patel and Nehru responsible for the debacle. A fierce critic of Prime Minister, Dr. Lohia was the main driver in creating Socialist Party out of CSP and cutting all ties of CSP with INC. From 1957 to 1967, Lohia was not just the opposition, in many ways, he was THE opposition. I will skip his parliamentary activity and go straight to his ideas. He held that Nehru’s slogan of ‘socialism’ is an eyewash. He pointed, rightly, what Nehru was implementing in the name of Socialism is just the proposals of Bombay Plan, drafted by key Industrialists of this country, namely JRD Tata and GD Birla. This proposed state intervention in the Indian economy and protectionism as our captains of industry felt opting for free market outright would incur huge losses . Also they neither had the Capital, nor were they willing to invest in heavy industries as that would be a huge risk with high chance of initial unprofitably. However, if state built these, Indian Industrialists stand to gain from secondary and consumer goods industry which would buy cheaply produced raw materials from these factories. What they sought to do was privatizing profits and socializing losses. Lohia asserted, this plan which was the main driver of the first three 5 year plan in India, was basically - Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. He asserted that any attempt at Socialism, can not be statist. It must come from the below, from the society itself. It must manifest through direct democracy. He asserted, it is the civil society, not state power, that holds the key in establishing a Socialist society. This would be fulfilled by four pillar state - the village, the district, the province and the center, which will exercise widest possible autonomy in all spheres. Evidently, decentralization of power was his mantra. In the four-pillar state the armed forces of the state might be controlled by the center, the armed police by the province but all other police might be brought under district and village control. While industries like the railways or iron and steel might be controlled by the Center, the small unit textile industry of the future might be left to district and village ownership. While price fixing might be a central subject the structure of agriculture and the ratio of capital and labour in it might be left to the choice of the district and the village. A substantial part of state revenues should stay with the village and the district. As far as possible the principle of election might be applied to administrative, instead of nominations or selections. Economic decentralization, corresponding to political and administration decentralization, might be brought about through maximum utilization of small machines.

So to sum it up, Lohia’s Socialism entailed -

Equidistance from Capitalism and Communism Participatory Democracy Socialism from below Civil Society over state Emphasis on small machine and Agro-Industry instead of Western Industrialization model Breaking the upper Caste hegemony in Socio-Cultural sphere Economic Self Sufficiency Left-wing Patriotism Secularism of State Stopping Lemon Socialism and Crony Capitalism A balance of Parliamentarian politics and Militant Activism The death of Lohiate Socialism was a huge blow to Indian Left. While he was a frenemy of the Communists (ie, he sometimes jointly agitated with them, but never held much high opinion about them), the passing of his ideology from Indian political stage with his students taking up casteist politics was a huge blow to Left as a whole. In my opinion, Lohia analyzed Indian situation much more astutely than the Communists and even his fellow Socialists. His brand of Socialism is relevant then, it is far more relevant now.


2. Discuss the three levels of Jayaprakash Narayan’s proposed political structure.

Jaya Prakash once stated that Total Revolution is a combination of seven revolu­tions, viz., political, social, economic, cultural, ideological or intellectual, educational and spiritual; and the main motive being to bring in a change in the existing society that is in tune with the ideals of the Sarvodaya. JP had a very idealistic notion of soci­ety and it is in this endeavor, he shifted from Marxism to Socialism and later towards Sarvodaya.

By the early 1970s, JP completely withdrew from party and power politics, and con­centrated more on social regeneration through peaceful means. This did not mean that JP kept quiet while there was social and political degeneration taking root in political freedom. In order to better the situation, despite his old age, he embarked on the task of working towards bringing in a complete change in the political and economic life of India.

Initially, he tried to organize people and make them conscious or aware of the situations and then appealed to the leaders. But with no response, he began to organize youth to save the democracy from degeneration and called this revolution as Total Revolution. The momentum to the movement came when there were agitations in Gujarat and followed in Bihar as well.

In 1974, the Bihar agitations spiralled into massive protests by the people to bring about a change in the political, social and educational system. At this juncture, JP announced a fourfold plan of action that aimed to paralyze the administration, intro­duction of Gram Swarajya and establishing people’s government. Explaining the term ‘peoples government’, JP stated that it would be a small unit of democracy at the village, panchayat, or the block level, at all the three levels, if possible.

These units were regarded as the sources of the power of the people in times of peace, as well injustice or tyranny, and mainly for the reconstruction of the society on the basis of equality and the elimina­tion of poverty, oppression and exploitation. JP further called upon the people of Bihar as well as the entire India to unite by cutting across their individual and party interests.

His motive behind charging up the Bihar students was to bring about a complete change in the entire governmental structure and the system of Indian polity. It is for this reason he called it a Total Revolution. JP presented the concept of total revolution in a very comprehensive manner. His commitment to socialist and humanistic ideas was very evident in the idea of total revolution.

He was aiming at uprooting of corruption from political and social life in India. Besides this, JP wanted to create conditions wherein the people living below the poverty line could get the minimum necessities of life. Thus, total revolution was a device for bringing about a Gandhian humanist version of an ideal society.

In his prison dairy, JP once stated that Total Revolution is a combination of seven revolu­tions, viz., political, social, economic, cultural, ideological or intellectual, educational and spiritual; and the main motive being to bring in a change in the existing society that is in tune with the ideals of the Sarvodaya. JP had a very idealistic notion of soci­ety and it is in this endeavor, he shifted from Marxism to Socialism and later towards Sarvodaya.

Like Gandhi, he also experimented with his own beliefs, tested his notions and modified his ideas. The inherent contradictions within the Parliamentary democ­racy made JP lose any faith he had in it. He opined that democracy gives no assurance for a better life to the people in the future when they are socially and economically neglected. He opined that only a peaceful revolution could bring about some change in the society.

One of the main reasons for lack of development in India, according to JP, was the widespread corruption in all walks of life. He believed that the multiparty system and general elections every five years had reared corruption. Further, the failure of economic planning and public investments is also due to this corruption.

Through this revolution, JP aimed at changing the society and also the individuals’ outlook towards the society. He also asked the workers in Bihar to prepare for the long struggle for achieving the objectives of total revolution.

He laid out a plan for the movement; on how the revolution should move on the propaganda for public education, and constructive programmes consisting of creating consciousness about various social evils such as dowry system, caste conflicts, communalism and untouchability. Thus, JP had a very clear perspective of the social ideals and objectives when he took upon the task of guiding the Indian masses for a concrete action.

JP strongly believed that for democracy to be a lively and effective instrument there is an urgent need for a strong opposition, powerful public opinion, free and fear­less press, ideological and moral pressure from the academicians, and trade unions. He, in fact, advised the people to revise their thinking and attitude towards democratic functioning in India.

When Janata Party came to power, JP was hopeful that there would be a change in socio-political and economic situation in India. But unfortu­nately, the party leaders pursued their political ambitions and were attracted towards the corrupting influence of power, despite their pledge that they would aim at bringing about a just society. Naturally, the country slipped into old order of political rivalry and infighting.

Towards the end of his life, JP revealed his thoughts about India and the ideals for which he struggled all these years. He explained saying, India of my dreams is a community in which every individual, every resource is dedi­cated to the service of the weak community, dedicated to ‘Antyodaya’ to the well-being of the poorest and the weakest.

India of my dreams is a community in which every citi­zen participates in the affairs of the community. It is a community in which the weak are organized and awakened to implement reforms and to keep an eye on the rulers … it is a community in which the people have a right to and opportunity to bring them to book if they go astray in which office is not looked upon as a privilege, but as a trust given by the people … in short, my vision is of a free progressive and Gandhian India. However, his dream remained unfulfilled despite his long struggle throughout his life.