Was India Socialist under Nehru? (1947 - 1964) essay

Jawaharlal Neru is a well-known figure in the history of India, probably the second after Mahatma Gandhi. As a leader of the National Congress, Neru supported secularism and democracy in the country. At the same time, his government was officially defined as a socialist one, aiming to Implement positive changes into the economy by ensuring wealth of the entire society. In fact, the actions and choices of Nehru Griban that India of his period cannot be defined as socialist. The current paper focuses on the social envirorment and overall situation in the country to prove that the officially established social party failed to ensure the rules of the socialist society. In particular, the beliefs of Nehru as a leader that were distinctive from the generally accepted ideas of socialism reflected that people are unable to concern only about social differences and have various desires and interests. Consequently, India of 1947-1964 was not a socialist country.


Jawaharlal Nehru played a great role in the Indian history. He was a leader of the Indian National Congress and Gandhi’s heir. Nehru supported secularism and democracy. Moreover, he was a strong backer of the socialism as a promoter of Indian economic development. The paper at hand is focused on the period of Nehru`s governing and proves that India was not socialist during the time, because, despite officially established socialist policy, it was impossible to implement it due to the gab between social parts.

From the beginning of the twentieth century, the feeling that the British authority must be stopped was growing among the educated Indians. Therefore, many Indians supported the nationalistic organization called Indian National Congress. It was formed in 1885. In the beginning, the organization did not gain mass support, since it was representing only the interests of the wealthy people. However, after the World War I, the entity was completely transformed by Mohandas Gandhi. The man in question promoted civil disobedience and opposition to the British government. Gradually, the resistance movement received a great amount of support and Britain could not destroy it. One of the closest Gandhi`s associates was Nehru. After Gandhi, he became a leader of the Congress and sfrom the year of receiving independence in 1947 till his death in 1964, Nehru possessed the position of the prime minister.

In the independent India, the Congress Party was dominant at the time. The party leader was also Nehru. In 1952, the first general election with more than 170 million of people who voted was organised. In the elections, the Socialists received a victory and their result was ten percent of the votes more, which has made them the main opposite power to the Congress Party. The Congress Party had left and right wings and they were quite different. Nehru was supporting the left wing and its ideas of the socialist policies to provide positive economic and social transformations.

It was clear that Nehru`s policy agenda was of a socialistic character. However, from the historical perspective, it is quite difficult to say if the socialist policy was really implemented. In 1955, the Congress Party has established “Avadi resolution” that was declaring the idea of the social pattern of the society. Such resolution provoked a serious reaction from the socialist opposition. The leader of the Socialist Party, Madhu Limaye, was convinced that Nehru with the declaration in question wanted people to believe that big changes would come and, at the same time, he wanted to persuade the capitalists that no changes would happen.

Socialism individual philosophy of Nehru is a subject of many researches that are describing his policy toward the socialist`s tendency for all his life. However, his government was rather balancing between different political interests and policies, than showing and providing a clear ambition to implement the socialism and its policy in common sense. Therefore, the researchers are putting an emphasis on the fact that clear and straight socialist policy wasn`t a main agenda of Nehru.

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Benjamin Zachariah did not support the ideas related to individual socialism policy of Nehru because they were not showing the standards according to which the socialism was judged at that time, despite presenting own standards by authors themselves. In his works about development of India from the social and intellectual perspectives, the significant role of the socialism for the political situation in India was examined. From the author’s works, it can be seen that socialism became a way of providing national discipline, morality, intellectual culture, modernity and different statist policies. From such perspective, socialism has become a society pattern and condition that is possible to reach in case of the sufficient development in India. Due to the growth of this idea`s popularity, the political groups decided to represent socialism until the clear political direction would not be chosen.

Another perspective was offered by Zacharriah. According to him, post-colonial policy of India demonstrated a dynamic interaction between various layers of the socialism’s importance to the development of policy in India. Instead, Bevir was assured that Indian socialism was a part of the web of beliefs. Socialist political transfer within the Indian context could be realized as a socialist web of beliefs specific assumptions assimilation. The nationalists’ movement in India realized that such assumptions have the explanatory power and incorporated these assumptions. For some people, this explanatory power was so strong and convincing that they decided to call themselves as the socialists and to foundate the socialist movement. Hence, they decided to assimilate not the whole socialism theory, but to select some beliefs from this theory that could be applied to explain their current political situation.

Thus, the main question is what exactly assumptions were assimilated by the Indian socialists and how they were incorporated in terms of already persisted web of beliefs that were raised from the common Indian and British traditions, cultures and education. The socialism supporters, basing on the individual understanding of the socialism, were focused on the examination on which exactly beliefs they could agree as the socialist party program. The socialist’s policy included the introduction of election platforms, public declarations that were adapted to the party conventions, political articles, speeches, monographs and arguments.

As it was already mentioned, Nehru rejected the development of capitalism and decided to commence the fundamental transformation of the Indian society basing on the socialist theories and ideas. Yet, he did not gain success in building a socialist society, because of the great gap between his practice and precepts. Despite this, Nehru managed to deal with the problem of initiating the socialism in the underdeveloped country with the democratic policy. Influenced by Nehru, the socialist vision was shown to a millions people and Nehru made the socialism a part of their consciousness. Furthermore, Nehru`s socialistic ideas and strategies about its development and establishment and his political practice, provided deep insights to the socialist transformation problem in the modern world.

Answering the question regarding what the socialism meant for Nehru, it is critical to note that Nehru was never defining socialism in terms of the known defined scheme or some general principles. To Nehru, socialism meant social justice, more opportunities and higher income distribution that were developed through the application to the production processes of the modern science and technology, applied to the society`s problems the scientific approach and decrease of level of the economic and social disparities were provided by the capitalism and feudalism. Likewise, he viewed socialism as a way of providing capitalism competitiveness and promotion of the cooperative relationships and profit motive supremacy. Even more, it meant the gradual ending of the class domination and distinctions. Additionally, socialism laid down social ownership or the control over the production principles` means. Nevertheless, Nehru was insisting that firstly the socialism concerned greater production, so there would no equal poverty distribution.

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Nehru assured everyone that the socialist implementation would not be in the form of an event, but it would be a process based on the social and economic conditions. For such reason, socialism was not clearly defined and laid out scheme toward which the transformation process moved. It was expected  that socialism would be implemented stage-by-stage, without rush. Hence, there no sudden social and political break, but gradual and slow changes were provided. The socialist transformation was viewed in terms of providing series of the reforms that would occur in the social and economic structure, but which would after some time lead to the structural social transformation or revolution. Nehru was comparing these reforms with the surgical operations. Correspondingly, the socialist revolution would include several surgical operations that would be performed through the law process by the democratic legislature.

Nehru was assured himself and persuaded other people that the socialism must be based on the civil liberties and  democracy. Referring to his own national movement experience, Nehru decided that the basic social changes should be brought through the board of the societal consensus or the people`s overwhelming majority consent. The society must be willing enough to accept these changes, because only parliament legislation would not be enough to provide such changes in the society. Humans have to accept such reforms. Meanwhile, Nehru was assured that it was important to carry out people along the progress line. Overall, he had several approaches to the socialism establishment. First of all, the process had to be slow enough, so that his colleges and other people accepted these changes. Still, it was important for him to be strong enough to keep pushing people toward the socialism changes and progress.

Overall, Nehru was sure that it is impossible to gather people over the straight and clear socialism definition, because people could only believe in the multiple interests and stands of the common socialist vision. Consequently, his socialist views were not standard and were assimilated due to the politic and social conditions in India at that time. It is difficult to say that under Nehru rule, India was a socialist state, because of the specific aspects of the policy that was implied. Hence, despite officially declared socialism policy, India was not a socialist state.

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Was India Socialist under Nehru? (1947 - 1964) essay

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