It should be made absolutely clear that socialism is not an alien concept. Notionally it is as old as the idea of democracy.
The word ?Loktantra? which is a Sanskrit synonym for democracy finds mention in ?Pancharatra Agama? which comprises 1,000,00 verses and is regarded as holy and authentic as the Vedas. According to the Mahabharata, the principles of democracy had been enunciated for the first time by seven sages namely Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulah, Kratu and Vasistha. It is believed that God had invisibly told the said sages as follows :-
Kritam shatsahasram hi shlokanamidmuttamam loktantrasya Kritasnasya Yasmada Dharmah pravartate [Shanti Parva : 335: 39]
(O Sages! You have created an excellent scripture consisting of one hundred thousand verses from which the dharma of lokatantra will be propagated in its entirety.)
The expression ?dharma of lokatantra? makes it abundantly clear that in our country the principles of polity were never segregated from the ideals of dharma as was, for the first time, done by the framers of the present constitution to the great detriment of the country.
Like democracy, the lofty principles of socialism have also been the guiding star of the rulers in India since time immemorial. The ideals of socialism can be found clearly explained in the following shloka of ?Srimada Bhagawata? which is a very popular and revered text of Hindu Dharma:
Yavada Bhariyeta Zatharma tawata Swatwama hi dehinama. Adhikam yovimanyeta so steno dandamarhati: [07:14:08].
[A person is entitled to that much of wealth only with which he can satisfy his hunger i.e. fulfill his genuine needs. Anyone who lays claim to more than that is a thief and deserves punishment].
With general election scheduled to be held early this year as before the electorate in our country are faced with the question: Whom to vote ! With an unexpected spurt in the prices of commodities, rising of the graph of heinous crimes and terror, influx of the multinationals from outside commercialisation of education and introduction of sex in the syllabi, excessive hike in tuition fees in all educational institutions particularly various Institutes owned by businessmen, onslaught on India'sancient culture and falsification of history, danger to national monuments like Ram Sethu, people feel bewildered on the eve of election.
There is no doubt that the main issue before the electorates is economic crisis. Though a new Constitution was framed and adopted after independence and a solemn resolve was made, inter alia, to secure to all citizens of the country social, economic and political justice and equality of status and opportunity , it remains unfulfilled till date.
Enamored of the triumph of socialism in Soviet Russia Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India framed a faulty policy of mixed economy. By abolishing zamindari and taking such other reformative measures he thought that he would make India a powerful socialist state. He not only miserably failed in translating his dream into a reality, but made the rich richer and the poor poorer.
More or less all political parties which contested various elections in order to capture power talked of socialism without really knowing what did this fascinating phrase mean. They talked of transforming Indian agriculture and industry by ending exploitation of man by man, but went on strengthening the forces of capitalism. They continue to do the same even today and will certainly repeat it when the next election comes.
The word SOCIALIST along with another word SECULAR were inserted in the Constitution through fortysecond amendment in 1976 which became operative in 1977. The moot question is : Has India become a true socialist state ?. Constant and rapid increase in the number of suicide by Indian farmers overall unemployment of the youths, spiralling prices, rampant bribery and other forms of corruption, entry of large number of criminals in legislatures and other places of power, complete back of pre-emptive action against terrorists and increasing fear in people'smind and sense of insecurity compel one to answer the said question in the negative.
If India is to be made a true socialist state this cannot be done by pleasing God and Mammon both as Nehru tried to do when he came to power. He wanted to reconcile the irreconcilables. He formulated a dangerously erroneous policy of helping the poor rise above poverty line through flowery speeches only without dismantling the capitalist superstructure symbolising the forces of exploitation. The result was what we have been witnessing since then till today.
If any party in power sincerely believes in the principles of socialism and want to make its state a Socialist Republic , it has to do it scientifically as has been done successfully by other countries in the world . Contrary to it the Congress, the so-called communist parties including the self -styled ?Marxist? Communist Party and their numerous notorious off-shoots have been serving the interests of the capitalist class although never failing to pay lip- service to socialism.
When the CPI formed Government in Kerala it formed alliance not only with the reactionary Congress but also with the communal Muslim League. In west Bengal the CPM has been openly helping the enemies of the people in the name of SEZ. The massacre of several poor peasants, rape on women and unprecedented perpetration of cruelties on labourers have brought a bad name to Marx who had undergone great sufferings for the sake of the workers of the whole world. These speak to the truth that the CPM has donned the mask of Marxism only to deceive the people and does not deserve to be returned to power in the forthcoming General Election.
No political party can derive credit only by having an attractive name if its activities do not correspond to it. It should not be forgotten that Adolf Hitler, a notorious Nazi of Germany had also named his party as German National Socialist Party which became instrumental in the cruel and indiscriminate killing of large number of people when it came to power in 1933.
Whether it is the Congress , or the CPI or the CPM or the Samajwadi Party or any other political organisation if it claims to be wedded to socialism it has to show to the electorate that it has followed its ideals not only in theory but also in practice.
India is in need of scientific socialism, not pseudo socialism. One is free not to like socialistic ideals but one cannot ignore the hard realities of one'stime.
True socialism based on the ideals of the past as well as those of the present is a sine qua non for all round development of India which includes eradication of poverty, crime and terror. But we do not want Socialism sans dharma.
There is no doubt that if India becomes a true socialist state without giving up the eternal principles of Sanatana Dharma she will not only get rid of poverty, crime and terror but will also become leader of the World.
Swami Vivekanand had once said ? I am a socialist not because it is a perfect system, but half the loaf is better than no bread?. The expression ?half the loaf? refers to imperfect socialism which fulfills man'smaterial needs only. On the contrary perfect socialism is that in which the end of material prosperity meets with that of spiritual progress. If we, therefore, succeed in combining modern scientific socialism with the highest ideals of Sanatan Dharma we will be able to give perfect socialism to the world.
(The writer is a senior Advocate, Supreme Court).