The Socialist Themes In Gandhian Philosophy Essay

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The Socialist Themes In Gandhian Philosophy Essay, Research Paper The Socialist Themes in Gandhian Philosophy The philosophy of socialism has gradually permeated the entire structure of society the world over and almost the only point in dispute is the pace and methods of advance to its full realization. India will have to go that way too if she seeks to end her poverty and inequality though she may evolve her own methods and may adopt the ideal suited to the genius of her race. After gaining independence from the Britain Empire in 1948, India did embark on the political economic journey towards a socialist society where mendicancy and oppressive disparity would be abolished. By 1972, only twenty-five years after independence, India initiated four Five-Year Economic Plans.

Economic development took place on the basis of planning done by the Government in which the idea of mixed economy was accepted and accordingly both the public and private sectors operated in the country s economy. Although this period, which was characterized by a centralized State that mediated the economy, can be labeled as an economic success, the man who freed India from her imperial shackles would have disputed this strength of the government. Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) looked upon an increase in the power of the State with greatest fear, because although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of all progress. Certainly, Gandhi was in favor of a decentralized

democratic regime where he would realize freedom for full expression of [his] personality. However, Gandhi did not stand completely against the political philosophy of socialism, as he agreed with many of the moral themes that pervade socialist thought. Although he endorsed Indian democracy as his ultimate goal and continually pushed for these reforms within the Indian National Congress, Gandhi held many other ideals that rested at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Despite fighting for individual freedom, he did not ignore the social obligations of the individual to participate in shared growth and to live simply so that others may simply live. Gandhi s Hindu upbringing laid the foundation for the acceptance of many socialist views, but the literary works of Western

socialists called him to action to contest severe economic inequality. Although he encouraged the development of democratic institutions inside India, the reactionary and utopian socialist literature available within the British Empire had an enormous self-admitted influence on Gandhi; the literature had an inexorable effect on his political ideology and campaigns against privilege. Gandhi s Interpretation of Socialism Before discussing the specific ideas that Gandhi adopted from Western socialists, it is important to understand the role of the State and the purpose of socialism in the eyes of Gandhi. He inherently respected the philanthropic ideas of socialism, as Gandhi s Hindu background filled him with altruistic qualities. Gandhi was a deeply pious man and his religion

taught him to disesteem the elements that drive a capitalist society competition for wealth, falsehood, and greed and desire were all prohibited by Hindu doctrine. Gandhi s attraction to Western socialism stemmed also from his understanding of the antiquated Hindu concept of dharma. Jayaprakash Narayan (1902-1979), a disciple of Gandhian socialism, explained that the notion of dharma was of great importance in ancient Indian society [and to Gandhi] and it prescribed and regulated individual and group behaviour in all walks of life. When the philosophy of dharma was thoroughly practiced in the ancient villages of India, everyone was cared for and protected from impoverishment, as each person had an ethical duty, based on the divine order of Hinduism, to provide for others through