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Socialism in India: An Ingrained Doctrine

Picture Credit: Liji Jinaraj

If you ask any foreigner what they think about India, the most notable perception is that it is a rich country with poor citizens. And since it is a third-world country, there is no wrong in that perception. This is a direct cause of socialism. While it is the sixth largest economy and ranks significantly high in terms of purchasing power, in terms of GDP per capita it ranks fairly low. Though there have been signs of improvement lately.

Socialism in India started off as a political movement in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s with the agrarian revolts against the landlords during the British Raj. Peasant movements across the country, in fierce response to the aggravating British land policies, gave rise to many peasant socialists. Taking their struggle to the forefront, the leftist political parties hailed it as a significant cause of concern, which was an appropriate characterization.

In 1921, the Communist Party of India was established, yet the ideology of class warfare flourished under radical socialists like ex-Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Under Nehru, the Indian National Congress, India’s largest political party, adopted socialism as an ideology for socio-economic policies. They also engineered the Tebhaga Movement of farmers in Bengal against the landed gentry.

Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology of peace and non-violence was deeply entrenched with mainstream socialism, something which the radical socialists opposed. The radicals based their movement on class warfare.

People hail figures as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and other icons of socialism as the chief architects of India’s freedom.

The core reasons behind India’s independence was the coming to power of the leftist Labor Party in Britain, which aimed at giving India freedom. It was this party who intermingled with Britain’s devastating financial losses in the Second World War.

Since Independence, the Indian National Congress has started adopting socialist policies of nationalizing banks and health sectors.

The concept of socialism resonated with the Indian elites and intellectuals, which resulted in the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party often remembered in these days as a party which ruined Bengal’s economy and created a reign of terror and fear. They remained in power for 34 consecutive years dating from 1977 to 2011.

The Indian National Congress barely made any economic progress, and in the late 70s the GDP growth rate fell to an all-time low of -5.2%. Even the GDP per capita fell to an all-time low of 1755.74 (US$) in 1991 under this regime.

Much of this fall is attributed to the Congress’s endorsement of a mixed economy of heavy state control, alloyed with light private establishments. The modern Congress advocates import substitution industrialization, the replacement of foreign imports with domestic products.

India exuded economic progress under the pro-business BJP regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1998-2004 period with the rate of economic growth in 2003. A few months before the Congress came to power in 2004, the GDP growth rate was at 7.9% and the rate of inflation was at 3.8%. In fact, the rate of inflation during the entire BJP-NDA term averaged at 4.8%, whereas during the first nine years of Congress’s regime between 2004 and 2013 it averaged at 6.7%.

A further ten-year stint of the left-leaning Congress worsened the economic augmentation and crippled the private establishments. Though under the Modi regime, things are again looking prosperous in terms of economics.

Decades of indoctrination painting socialism as a morally correct rock-bed for a country’s general happiness is the pervading idea among the youth, elites, and so-called modern intellectuals.

Socialism among college students in the country has become anything but pro-Indian. Globalist messages, constant crying over ill practices in Hinduism in the 1800s to overshadow the malpractices in Islam like Triple Talaq and female genital mutilation, and India’s role in the Kashmir conflict are the only foundations of long rallies and student’s protests across the country.

They have slammed India’s proactive, instrumental approach of cutting off all relations with Pakistan over the Kashmir conflict and the attacks on the army camps in Northern India.

Things have deteriorated so much that on the 9th of February, 2016, a leftist student’s association, Democratic Student’s Union (DSU,) at Jawaharlal Nehru University shouted anti-India slogans to protest the hanging of Afzal Guru, declaring it as a crime committed by the Indian state.

Afzal Guru, one of the militants in the 2001 Parliament attack who owed allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammad, was convicted of murder, conspiracy, possession of explosives, and waging war against India.

One of the most tasteless slogans they cheered was quoted as:

‘India Go Back. Bharat ki Barbadi tak Jang Rahegi, Jang Rahegi (Till India is destroyed, we will continue to fight, will continue to fight). “

This all being said while standing on an Indian campus.

But this is not restricted to just one University; it has a domino effect upon every other leftist student’s union in the country.

Yet who can forget our idols and freedom fighters and their founding principles? So no matter how many conservative avenues open up, socialism in India will remain an ingrained doctrine.

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About Amritangshu Bandyopadhyay (12 Articles)
Article contributor for The Roar Sports (Australia), Football Manics(U.K) and a 3-month intern for Sportskeeda (India's largest sports website). Columnist at The Rabble-Rouser, with topics on international politics and economics. Hailing from Kolkata, India.

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