M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



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part of his pro­longed programme, Mahatma Gandhi launched his celebrated Salt Satyagraha. The whole nation was awakened and the masses offered satyagraha on. a large scale. But. strangely enough, the communists were nowhere in evidence. They, rather, denounced the national movement as bourgeois and Mahatma Gandhi as a lackey of the Indian bourgeoisie. The communists in hidia were following the policy laid down by the Third Communist International which by then had come completely under the leadership of Stalin. He felt that the Communist Party of India was not a free agent but a tool of Moscow ; that the primary loyalty of the party was first to Russia and only then to anybody else ; that when the communist parties talked of united front, it was always a ruse and at best a temporary policy dictated by the exigencies of the situation ; that their unswerving goal was always 'monolithic communist rule' ; and that the communists could never think of sharing power with anyone, except as a makeshift with convenient stages. These were the observations that made Narayan indifferent to communists. Also the patently mistaken policy that the Comintern had been following



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  1. since 1928, and which had resulted in the division of the labour and socialist movements throughout the world, and in the isolation of the communists from the national movements in all the colonial countries, appeared to Narayan contrary to Marxist theory generally and specifically to the famous colonial policy enunciated by Lenin. All this made him differ with the CPI. He also did not like the dictatorial regime in Soviet Russia and became ideologically alienated from her.

  2. Naturally Narayan kept away from the CPI and joined the ranks of the soldiers of freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. But as Marxism had left its own deposits in his mind, he could not commit himself whole-heartedly to Congress policy and programme, in spite of the famous Karachi declaration. The Karachi Resolution appeared to him quite vague and inadequate. He rea­lized that the Congress, even under the leadership of Gandhi, could not provide Indian people with a real socialist programme and con­duct the fight for independence in a more revolutionary manner. With the result, Narayan (who had socialist leanings since he came under the influence of Marxism) formed the Congress Socialist Party with the help of other disillusioned congressmen of socialist persua­sion. The Congress Socialist Party, he said "played a notable part in giving shape to the socio-economic content of Congress policy and a keener edge to the struggle for freedom."23

  3. As a Socialist

  4. For nearly twenty-four years, from 1930 to 1954, Narayan worked as a socialist. He had been the foremost leader, propagand­ist and spokesman of Indian socialism. Mahatma Gandhi had accepted him to be the greatest Indian authority on socialism. He not only took the initiative in the formation of the Indian Socialist Party in 1934, but also showed a remarkable genius in popularizing the party and its programme.

  5. In 1934, Jayaprakash Narayan realized that socialism could be the real basis of India's freedom. In a resolution submitted to the Ramgarh Congress of 1940, he advocated collective ownership and control of all large-scale and heavy production. He moved that the state should nationalize heavy transport, shipping, mining and the heavy industries. As such, his earlier socialism showed an impact of the ideas of American and British socialists.

  6. Narayan considered socialism a complete theory of socio-econo­mic reconstruction. "It is much more than a theory of personal ethics."24 Repudiating the idea of biological inequality of man, Narayan as a socialist pointed out that rampant inequality in the social and economic spheres was a function of the disproportionate



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  1. control of the means of production. He, therefore, urged that society had to provide that kind of arrangement where the economic impedi­ments that hindered the power and faculties of men were to be removed. As such, he stood for social and economic equality in life as against a psychological standardization. According to him, social­ism is a theory and technic of widespread planning. Its aim is "harmonious and well-balanced growth of the whole of society."25

  2. After re-examining the basic postulates of Marxism and their practical application by communists, he came to ask a serious ques­tion : Was Marxism-Leninism a safe guide to the social revolution and to socialism ? It became quite clear to his mind on the basis of his personal experiences that in a society where it was possible for the people by democratic means to bring about social change, it would be counter-revolutionary to resort to violence. He also realized that socialism could not exist, nor be created, in the absence of the democratic freedoms. As a logical corollary, he rejected the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which in effect meant "the dictatorship of a bureaucratic oligarchy." He writes in his book, From Socialism to Sarvodaya, recapitulating his old impressions about Russia, the home of communism :

  3. "The Russian revolution had started as a people's revolution that had the active support of the broad masses of Czarist Russia, but Lenin converted it into a minority revolution when he forcibly dissolved the Constituent Assembly in which he was in a small minority and seized power with the help of rebel soldiers and the urban working class. The subsequent miscarriage of the revolution and distortion of socialism to my mind was the direct result of a forcible seizure of power by a minority.""

  4. Narayan, thus, reached the conclusion that even where the people were denied democratic freedoms, a violent revolution should have been carried with the help of popular support and the revolutionary government ought to have the backing of the majority of the people. As such, no revolution, revolutionary or peaceful, social or political, was possible, according to him, without popular support. And the path to socialism could not pass through dictatorship of any kind.


    1. 5 Ibid., p. 88.

    The Soviet experience made it further clear to him that socialism was not merely 'the negation of capitalism'. He felt that even if capitalism was destroyed and industry, trade, banking, agriculture— all were nationalized and collectivized, itVas not necessary to have socialism in the perfect sense. In Soviet Russia, Narayan writes in the same book, ''We see not only denial of 'formal' freedom, but also denial of social justice, of equality : we saw the growth of a new class of bureaucratic rulers, of new forms of exploitation. All this



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  1. was not only the absence of socialism but also its negation." What to speak of J. P. Narayan, even Karl Marx, had he been alive to see Stalin's power to dictatorship, would have revolted against the type of socialism that Stalin, following Lenin's direction, could establish in his regime. As. Prof. Paul A. Baran, a staunch Marxist teaching at Stanford University (U.S.A.) writes : "It is merely the cult of personality in reverse to ascribe all the crimes and errors committed in the Soviet Union before the second World War, and in all of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe after it to the evil personalities of Stalin, Beria, and their associates. Matters are not so simple ; and the general feeling is wholly understandable that it is indeed the 'entire system' that must be held responsible for what was perpetrated by the leadership. Yet it is a grievous fallacy to conclude from this that socialism is the entire 'system' that needs to be repudiated. For it is not socialism that can be fairly charged with the misdeeds of Stalin and his puppets, but it is a type of political system that evolved partly due to the backwardness of the masses and partly due to internal power politics and the suspicious nature of the communist leaders.'"1

  2. The evil ends that had resulted from the evil means in Russia, particularly the foul means that were used to perpetrate the staggering crimes during the purges, made Jayaprakash revolt against the 'revolutionary ethics' of Marxism and forced him to question if good ends could ever be achieved by bad means. At the same time, he realized that European socialism, both Marxian and non-Marxian, was the picture of an industrialized society. Secialism, according to European thinkers, could be established only on the ruins of capital­ism, after its being matured. While in Asia industrial capitalist development was m its infancy, and Asian countries were overwhel­mingly rural and agrarian communities. Hence, Jayaprakash felt that it was difficult to learn anything or take any guidance from their experiences. "The communists have no doubt been successful —in the sense of capturing power—precisely in backward and rural communities, such as Russia and China. But the 'socialism' that they have built up is a far cry from the brotherhood of the equal and the free which to me is the essence of true socialism."26 For Democratic Methods


    1. 7 Baran, Paul A. : The Political Economy of Growth (1957). (Italics mine)

    Jayaprakash concluded in favour of democratic methods and realized the need for decentralization. He also realized that means must be morally consistent with the ends. He interpreted socialism in the context of Indian needs and the dominant values in Indian culture. He stood for reduction of land revenue, the limitation of expenditure and the nationalization of industries. The fundamental social and economic problem in India was to eliminate the exploita-



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  1. tion of the masses, and this could be achieved if the people through their efforts came to control their political and economic destiny. He felt the need for village reorganization and urged like Gandhi that villages should be made self-governing and seif-sufficient units. This necessitated a drastic reform of land laws. He submitted a resolution to the Ramgarh Congress in 1940 in which he emphasized upon the idea of transferring land to the actual cultivator. Support­ing co-operative farming in India he wrote : "The only solution is to clear away all the vested interests that lead in any manner what­ever to the exploitation of the tiller of the soil; liquidate all agrarian debts ; pool the holdings and establish co-operative and collective farming, state and co-operative credit and marketing system and co-operative subsidiary industries."8 Co-operative efforts alone, according to him, could provide the balance between agriculture and industry. The primary economic problem in Asia, particularly in India (also in China), is agrarian reconstruction. Hence, the state has to set up its own industries, and also embark upon other avenues of economic rehabilitation. Jayaprakash considered the present individualistic organization of agriculture wasteful. The acceleration of production in the agrarian sector was dependent upon "co-opera­tive and collective farming."27

  2. As a socialist, he believed in the urgency of economic problems of the country, and he, therefore, stressed the need for solving the economic problem first. There is no apparent inevitable connection between economic causation and cultural reality. But it is also true that without the satisfaction of basic economic needs cultural creati-vism is a sheer impossibility. Hence Jayaprakash pleaded for the eager maintenance of the conditions that were indispensable for the realization of equality of opportunities. Thus "economic minimum is a prime precondition for the resplendence of the fruits of culture."28

  3. Even as a socialist, Jayaprakash Narayan was not opposed to dominant values of Indian culture. Indian culture has exalted the ideal of the emancipation of the individual from the thraldom of the lower ego and acquisitiveness. It has never sanctioned a false immersion in the petty satisfactions of the narrow self. Sharing has been one of the most dominant ideals of Indian culture, and hence it is ridiculous to condemn socialism as an importation from the West. The organized economic doctrines of socialism have been formulated in the West, but its fundamental idealism is a part of Indian culture also.


    1. 9 Narayan, J. P. : Towards Struggle, pp. 90, 236.

    In fact, socialism for him was always a way of life. It repre­sented a set of values to which he owed allegiance voluntarily, and which he tried to put into practice in his lifetime. These values he



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  1. did not see developing anywhere as a result of merely institutional changes, whether economic or political. And some years after it became quite clear to him that socialism, as we ordinarily understand it, could not take mankind to the sublime goals of freedom, equality, brotherhood and peace. Socialism, no doubt, gives promise to bring mankind closer to these values than any other competing social philo­sophy. But he was persuaded to believe at Bodh Gaya Sarvodaya Sammelan (in 1953) that unless socialism was transformed into Sarvodaya, the beacon-Pghts of freedom, equality and brotherhood would remain beyond it; reach.

  2. Commitment to Sarvodaya

  3. Jayaprakash completely broke away with Marxism and turned to Sarvodaya philosophy. He attempted to reinterpret the basic question of individual behaviour that he was to exhibit in the realm of politics from an ethical viewpoint. The study of matter is an objective ex­ploration, whereas that of consciousness is subjective realization. The study of matter, the objective exploration, science in short, is neces­sarily amoral. The Marxists (and the materialists generally), having reduced consciousness to a behaviour of matter, naturally knocked the bottom out of ethics. They talk a good deal no doubt of revolutionary ethics, but that is nothing more than the crassest application of the theory that the end justifies the means. Once an individual per­suades himself, sincerely or otherwise, that he is on the side of the revolution (or the Party of the People), he is free to commit any in­famy whatsoever.

  4. Not only the Marxists and materialists but also those who differ from them in philosophy attempt to understand consciousness by the methods of science. Mental science also, therefore, provides no sure basis for moral behaviour. Nor is it ever possible for science to understand consciousness, which can only be subjectively experien­ced. Subjective experience is by its very nature incapable of being expressed in material categories. Therefore all the mystics and yogis who had experience of subjective reality, or absolute consciousness, have been unable to express it in any language.

  5. Modern science has reached a point where the dualism of matter and consciousness becomes too tenuous to be real. And it cannot resolve this dualism completely, because in objective study the seer and the seen must remain different, no matter how "inextricably commingled". It is only in the ultimate spiritual experience that this dualism can be removed and the seer and the seen become one.

  6. The root of morality lies in the endeavour of man to realize this unity of existence, or to put it differently, to realize his Self. For one who has experienced this unity, the practice of morality becqmes as natural and effortless as the drawing of breath. Jayaprakash, as a Sarvodaya leader, insisted, in all humility, upon an integrated view of life.



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  1. This led him at once to an aspect of the task of social and economic reconstruction that both socialists and communists have so far neglected. Socialists and communists both lay great emphasis on material prosperity and on an ever-rising standard of living. Al­though in a country like India it is the main task of social reconstruc­tion to raise quite considerably the people's standard of living, it would not do here or elsewhere, Jayaprakash thought, to apotheosize material happiness and encourage an outlook on life that feeds an insatiable hunger for material goods. According to him, there can be no peace in the minds and hearts of men, nor peace amongst men, if :his hunger gnaws at them continuously. He wrote : "In such a restless society violence and war would be endemic. All values of life would be subordinated to this over-mastering desire for more. Religion, art, philosophy, science would have to serve that one aim of life : to have more and still more. Equality, freedom, brotherhood would all be in danger of being submerged in a univer­sal flood of materialism." Hence disciplining of the bodily appetites is essential for a moral life and growth of the human personality, and the blossoming of all human qualities and values. This is true particularly of socialist values. The socialist way of life, as Jaya­prakash Narayan believed, is a way of sharing together the good things that common endeavour may make available. He wrote : "I believe that unless members of society learn to keep their wants under control, willing sharing of things may be difficult, if not impossible, and society would be bound to split into two divisions : (1) comprising those who are trying to discipline others, and (2) comprising all the rest. Such a division of society always leaves the question open : Who would discipline the disciplines, rule the rulers ? The only solu­tion seems to be to restrict as much as possible the need and area of disciplining from above by ensuring that every member of society practises self-discipline and the values of socialism, and among other things, willingly shares and co-operates with his fellowmen."1'

  2. People's Self-rule and Sarvodaya


    1. 12 Narayan, J. P. : From Socialism to Sarvodaya, pp. 31-32.

    This brings us near to the problem of party and power politics and non-party and non-power politics which we commonly call rajniti, and what Vinoba had simply called lokniti. Having come to believe under the deep influences of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba that politics cannot deliver the goods, the goods being the great human ideals of equality, freedom, brotherhood and peace, the party system, he realized, is emasculating the people. It does not function so as to develop their strength and initiative nor to help them establish their self-rule and to manage their affairs themselves. All that the parties are concerned with is to capture power for themselves so as to rule over the people, no doubt, with their consent. The party system, he felt, is seeking "to reduce the people to the position of sheep whose



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  1. only function ot sovereignty would be to choose periodically the shepherds who would look after their welfare !"29

  2. As a way out of the faults and failures of the party system, Jaya­prakash Narayan stood for people's self-rule. For its realization, the frame of reference will have to be changed from parliamentary democracy to something different. The process must be started from the bottom. A programme of self-rule and self-management must be placed before the people and by a constructive, non-partisan approach they must be helped to translate it into practice. It is quite clear that it was in order to undertake such a programme on a nationwide scale that Gandhi was thinking of converting the Congress into a non-partisan LokSevak Sangh. It was exactly this task that Vinoba had undertaken. Like Gandhi and Vinoba, Jaya­prakash also strongly believed that human freedom could be fully and wholly realized only in a stateless society, although he was not sure whether the state would ever wither away completely. He viewed with deep apprehension the march of the state to greater and greater glory. He regarded democratic socialists, communists as well as welfarists as statists. According to him, all of them hope to bring about their own variety of the millennium by first mastering and then adding to the powers and functions of the state. The independent trade unions are in better position and they do not solve the problem. These unions are supposed,to be a great bulwark of freedom, but it is to be acknowledged with fairness that the great trade unions are themselves becoming more and more ridden with bureaucracy. What we find, Jayaprakash felt, is that the state, in all its varieties, remains a Leviathan that will sit heavily on the free­doms of the people.


    1. 14 Ibid., p. 41.

    Being fed up with the state's restraining authority, Jayaprakash Narayan turned to Sarvodaya fully with a view to finding out a sure way out of the present state of affairs and establishing a real socialism. He expressed his views on this point: "The remedy is to create and develop forms of socialist living through the voluntary endeavour of the people rather than seek to establish socialism by the use of the power of the state. In other words, the remedy is to establish people's socialism rather than state socialism."1* And Sarvodaya, he thought, is people's socialism. He believed that the more of people's voluntary socialism and the less of state-enforced socialism, the fuller and more real will the socialism. It should be clear here that in order to develop non-state forms of socialism, it is quite unnecessary, according to him, for anyone to function as a party or to engage in a struggle for the capture of power. Both power and party have no relevance in this context. What is needed rather is a band of selfless workers who are prepared to live and move in the midst of the masses and



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