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23 Oct

Socialism that India adopted after its independence

Socialism is acknowledged as the cherished goal of the Indian political system in its constitution. Socialism lays emphasis on the welfare of the people, it seeks to ensure economic and political equality to the people and tries to remove exploitation of one class by the others.

  • However, despite aiming for the same goals, India adopted socialism which drew inspiration from Gandhi and Nehru rather than Marxian socialism.
  • Whereas Gandhian socialism was based on satya, ahimsa, trusteeship and decentralisation and Nehru’s socialism was a liberal and a type of fabianist socialism, Marxian socialism emphasised on class wars and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • Indian socialism was not an ideological dogma, but a broad guide to the development and social change and accommodated a lot of other ideas, apart from core socialism, which were necessary for the development of India.
  • Moreover, challenges like resource crunch for the free market, apathy to capitalism due to colonial experience, challenges of inequality, and a newly independent nation already on fringes further made adoption of socialism or capitalism in its absolute form impractical.
  • India in its modified socialist pursuit relied on three pillars of development strategy–
    • planning for rapid industrial and agricultural growth which was not under the absolute control of State.
    • a public sector to develop strategic industries, which was to progressively become a self-sustained profit-making sector.
    • a mixed economy- Mixed economy was preferred earlier due to lack of adequate resources, but the private sector was to work under a broad framework of planning.
  • It differed from core socialism as it went for a mixed economy rather than complete government control, the public sector had hold on only core industries, industrialists participated in planning (Bombay Plan), emphasis was on industrialisation along with agriculture and the aim was to make the public sector a profit-generating sector rather than being just a welfare tool for income redistribution.
  • However, India also imbibed core socialism spirit through planned economic development, initiation of land reforms, labor laws, progressive taxation, expansion of education and health and rapid expansion of the public sector.
  • Despite its contributions to Indian economy and society through welfare policies, cooperative societies, planned growth, land reforms etc., socialism in India is yet to achieve all its intended objectives.
  • Sluggish economic growth till the 1990s, mounting corruption, red-tapism and license raj of bureaucracy prevented industries and markets to grow to their full strengths and restricted foreign investment and competition due to inward-looking policies, a loss-making public sector and failure of trickle-down growth.
  • Consequently, while retaining socialism as a principal constitutional value, as declared in Preamble, Fundamental Rights and DPSP, India didn’t shy away from approaching a more liberal economy and means of distributive justice when needed. It smoothly transitioned to LPG reforms in the 1990s, opened its sectors and markets to global opportunities and competition, to continue its growth story keeping up with the changing times and needs.

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