On India

  After the first war of independence in 1857, the urge of Indian people for freedom from foreign yoke was dominantly shaped by yogis, sufis and saints, that is, by spiritual leaders of India. Prominent among them were Maharshi Dayananda, Maharshi Devendra Nath, Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Anni Besant (sister Nivedita), Sri Aurobindo, M.K. Gandhi and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, and several others like them. It is not that other great freedom fighters – who were inspired other than such spiritual leaders – did not contribute to this urge for freedom in any significant manner. They did contribute and contribute in a decisive way, often by making supreme sacrifice with their lives.

  Freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki, Capekar brothers, Ras Bihari Bose, Kartar Singh Sarabha, master Surya Sen, Shachindra Nath Sanyal, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Kanaklata Barua and Subhash Chandra Bose, and many more like them sung and unsung heroes of struggle for independence quickened the common people’s urge to get rid of the foreign yoke.

  But the collective consciousness of Indian people raring for freedom from slavery was shaped, nurtured and dominated by spiritual leaders. The roots of inspiration of these ordinary people got nurturing strength from saints of varied persuations like Nivrttinath, Gyandev, Sopan, Muktabai, Mirabai, Janardan, Eknath, Namdev, Gora, Gonai, Tukaram, Narshibhai, Sajan Kasai, Sawanta Mali, Kanha, Narhari, Gyaneshwar, Samarth Guru Ramdas etc. The common man found solace and took pride in the heroic deeds of revolutionaries but deep within he was convinced of the morally correct path that the saintly leaders showed to the struggling nation. In fact, only this collective consciousness of the Indian people made it possible for this nation to win freedom – by and large – in the unique non-violent way that was unheard of in the world till then.

  Guided by this spiritual collective consciousness, the people of this country, as if mesmerized by a higher controlling spirit, conducted themselves en-mass almost in the footprints of Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Lord Jesus Christ. It was a rare moment of human history that a nation, composed of millions of people of varied pursuations – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsees Christians etc. – rose as a single man in the cause of freedom of their nation, and conducted themselves in this cause with a morally high sense of truth and love, and acted unitedly in the non-violent manner.

  Such a feat in modern times is considered impossible and later generations would not believe in the truth of such an event having taken place. This is how the collective consciousness of a people, if led to the right path, can perform miracles. Sri Aurobindo and M.K. Gandhi, the two great spiritual personalities, were still living when India got freedom. They both, in their own particular ways, were the fountains of spiritual strength and the guide of that spiritual vision for millions of ordinary and simple Indians.

  Most of those few who happened to be close to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in his struggle to make truth and non- violence the foundation of Indian freedom movement, did not understand the depth of Gandhi’s spiritual vision of truth and love sought to be adopted by him (Gandhi) against the avowed enemy of their nation. Gandhi’s conduct – or the rationale of this conduct – of suddenly changing his mind in the midst of thick and thin of the ferocious freedom struggle was beyond their mental grip and comprehension.

  A team of these few political leaders steered free India onto a path that was least sympathetic to the spiritual vision of an unceasing chain of saints that had inspired the people of this country in their struggle for political freedom and as this vision had been articulated by Gandhi in this struggle. None of these politiical leaders of free India was a spiritual practitioner in the way of Gandhi. And even the rare ones who practiced the Gandhian path of spiritualism in their public life (like Vinoba Bhave) were considered  by these political leaders to be not fit enough to lead the country. They were even not considered fit enough to be included in the team of these political leaders. The leaders of this political team regarded Gandhian ideas and path impracticable ones.

  After suffering excruciating pains and  ignominy of the slavery of centuries spanning almost to a millennium, Indian people had ultimately in 1947 got the freedom. Though at the eve of their independence there was much for Indian people to learn from the history of these years – how they had back-stabbed each others on the crucial moments of history, how they had lulled themselves in their foolishness, how they had shamelessly served their masters, how they had disrespected their true heroic countrymen and women who laid down their lives for their motherland – but they seemed to learn nothing from this history.

India had a very long history and extremely rich culture to bank upon in shaping the future of a free India at the so-called “mid night stroke” of 15th August, 1947 and show by their example a blazing path to the humanity that was badly bruised by conflicts and wars. Towards this aim, as the first step, M. K. Gandhi – an undisputed political leader then – insisted that Indian National Congress, the political party poised to rule the country, be dissolved and converted into the “People’s Self Help” group manned by selfless leaders.

But it was not accepted by those who had an eye to rule the country and all was nullified. Even there are suppressed historical murmurs that the calculated moves of those who were to take the reins of free India were governed only by their selfish motives.

A Constituent Assembly was formed to frame a constitution for free India in the urgency of the moment. In this Assembly though most of the members were highly learned, like Bhim Rao Ambedkar, and having European education but none of them had any spiritual inclination or vision. They did not know the epoch-making worth of the Gandhian ideas of village republics, subordination of rights to duties and trusteeship to bring equality among unequal’s in the economic matters. The abode of India’s spirit is village and not city; and the culture of India thrives in villages and not cities.

These learned people thought that neither it was proper nor possible to bring in these and other spiritual considerations (they even did not know the difference between religion and spirituality) in making the constitution for a country that is home to multi-religious, poor and illiterate people. Apart from the spiritual considerations, even the village-oriented cultural and political vision of India was not afforded any significant space in the emerging post-independent new political India.

Instead, these so-called progressive and modern leaders borrowed from the western constitutions the readymade concepts of parliamentary democracy, secularism and fundamental rights without any regard for Indian conditions and history. It was the first step in wrong direction that India fatefully decided to take. Once she took the wrong turn, there was no way of going back to correct the mistake. In the march on her chosen path, India has reached a place today that does not bode well of her future.

  The history of last 50 years of free India is the saga of a nation that seemed to promise at her birth into freedom of a glorious future as the spiritual Guru of the world but that took a wrong turn and degenerated today into a world of dark forces where desires of her sons are playing naked dance. And this unabashed serving of human desires has been taking place under the pretension of Democracy, Socialism, Secularism, Social Justice and (Hindutva) Nationalism.

  Retracing this history is a distasteful work. Nevertheless, to understand the real India, her past and future, and to understand the play of forces, divine and hostile, behind the apparent, it is necessary to look at the present India. Let us have a quick glance on how we started and where we reached today.

  Of the polity, or the Rajya, that was to be established in free India, Mahatma Gandhi was absolutely clear in his mind. He said: “By political independence I do not mean an imitation of the British House of Commons or the Soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramaraj, i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority.”

  Constitution is the body and soul of the temporal existence of a people. People and their socio-political institutions at the grass-root level, where they meet face to face with each other and solve their problems, are like living organisms and are evolved over the ages. A constitution of these people may either be allowed to evolve in accordance with their innate instincts or may be imposed on them as an artificial and ready-made gift to them. The former option needs patience and understanding of the ethos of the people and the later one the need of scholarship and intelligence.

  India had the strongest points in favor of the choice of the first. But she chose the latter option. India had evolved a living structure of social institutions that encompassed and admirably governed the entire spectrum of life, and had preserved them since time immemorial and against all odds. At the eve of independence it would have been the natural and wise choice of the Indian leaders to understand these social institutions in our country’s historical perspective, adapt them to meet the needs of the modern times and incorporate them in the national constitution.

Import of a Constitution:

  But India made the choice of importing a political structure from abroad and, after making amendments that seemed suitable to Indian needs, of giving to herself this gift. Indeed this gift, the constitution of India, was excellent as it incorporated all that was historically evolved by Europe and America. Nevertheless, it was an import of foreign institutions that were ill adjusted to Indian social life.

  Did we commit an error in our choice of the constitution? Could there have been any better alternative to fundamental rights and republican polity? Was it possible to replace concepts like secularism and socialism with some better ideas? These are the questions we can legitimately put to ourselves today when our political system is being swamped by materialistic values culminating in crime and corruption, and our national life rooted in spiritual values is being threatened with destruction by consumer culture. We cannot blame west for these values, as a life based on them is their way of life. It is our disease and we have invited it on ourselves.

  Europe, led by England, has evolved, under her peculiar historical conditions, three great social institutions, viz., separation of the state from church, supremacy of Parliament and the co-ordination of three organs of governance (that is, judiciary, executive and legislature). The first is generally known as secularism, the second as democracy and the third as checks and balance. As these institutions have originated and made perfect by adapting them to suit the changing times under European conditions, they are performing superbly meeting the aspirations of Europeans.

  India had evolved over thousands of years of her peculiar history four great social institutions, viz., autonomous village republics, four social Varnas of people, four Ashrams of an individual. These twosome institutions of Varnas and Ashrams are ideally suited to a society that is enlightened spiritually, understands the evolutionary course of consciousness and is devoted to the goals of elevating mankind’s consciousness.

  However, these institutions are retrograde in nature and impediments for a society that is committed to the ideals of sensual and material enjoyment in our life. For a society that has nothing to do with the collective and social goal of realizing the spiritual truth, there is no use of these institutions which are solely geared to such a goal.

  The preamble of Indian Constitution “we, the People, gave to ourselves” puts misplaced values before the Indian nation. This preamble reads:

 “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

  JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

  LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

  EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote   among them all;

  FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;


  Was it possible for the Indian people with a very ancient history and benevolent culture on their side to devise a better constitutional preamble than we have today? Did we not have any concept better than secularism, republic, socialism, democratic etc. which could be put before our people as ideals and national goals?

  We are putting here a suggestive list of the objectives cherished by Indian wisdom that could have been incorporated in Indian Constitution.

  COLLECTIVE SURVIVAL of all life-species by observing peace, good order, complete and global disarmament and respect for and conservation of Nature;

  FREEDOM of our people from political, economic, cultural and social oppression, within national organizations of our society, by guarding the individuals’ human rights and the interests of the organized society;

  COMMON PROSPERITY of our people by utilizing scientific advancements in technology and management of our national resources in a manner that guarantees that there are less working hours for all rather than workforce rendered unemployed to generate profits, there is equitable distribution of wealth among them all and to avoid waste and natural imbalance by unsustainable exploitation of our natural resources;

  NATIONAL UNITY among different subdivisions of our people by promoting mutual respect for diversity, understanding and harmony in diversity; and

  ENLIGHTENMENT of our people by encouraging them to imbibe the knowledge of science, from material science to psychic science, and encouraging them to remain always open to change of convictions.

  A constitution governing a people who are instinctively spiritual at heart is yet to be crafted by modern India. But a word of caution is needed here. Today, when we as a nation have gone to the bottom in our moral sense of right or wrong and just and unjust, it is dangerous to tinker with the Indian Constitution, whatever its infirmities; to make such a move today would be suicidal to India as a cohesive nation. This nation has to rise first before attempting such a venture.

Village republics, Varnas and Ashrams:

  Every village in India had a benign republican social order based on age-old norms rooted in spiritual values. It was not a brute rule of the majority. It was the rule of majority but tempered by the wisdom of village elders. This great and universal social institution of India faced and successfully endured all odds without much serious damage for thousands of years till the British rulers left India.

  The Indian villages’ polity built with inherent spirit of resistance to foreign influences has been classically described by Metcalfe C.T. He says:  “The Village Communities are little Republics, having nearly everything they want within themselves, and almost independent of any foreign relations. They seem to last where nothing else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down; revolution succeeds to revolution; Hindu, Pathan, Mughul, Mahratta, Sikh, English, are masters in turn; but the village communities remain the same. In times of trouble they arm and fortify themselves; a hostile army passes through the country; the Village Community collect their cattle within their walls, and let the army pass unprovoked; if plunder and devastation be directed against themselves and the force employed be irresistible, they flee to friendly villages at a distance, but when the storm has passed over they return and resume their occupation. If a country remains for a series of years the scene of continual pillage and massacre, so that the villages cannot be in-habited, the villagers nevertheless return whenever the power of peaceable possession revives. A generation may pass away but the succeeding generations will return. The sons will take the place of their fathers, the same site for the village, the same position for the houses, the same lands will be preoccupied by the descendants of those who were driven out when the village was depopulated; and it is not a trifling matter that will drive them out, for they will often maintain their post through times of disturbance and convulsion, and acquire strength sufficient to resist pillage and oppression with success.”

Also India, in very ancient times, invented four social classes, or Varnas as they were called, viz., Sudra, Vaisya, Kshatriya and Brahmin, and organized the entire society around this classification. Since then till today she has been practicing this social organization, though much corrupted through ages for various reasons. Originally, these Varnas, or castes as they are now commonly called, were based on one’s conduct and not on his birth. In this social organization, the Sudra, the lowest on the rung, was the one who lived a life at the lowest level of human consciousness and, since his conduct and not the birth decided his Varna, the life that he led was his free choice. He hunted animals for food, killed birds for living, ate eggs of these birds to his taste and pursued his vocation that was not compassionate to other living beings. There could be no lower level of human consciousness than this and lower than this was the animal consciousness only. Sudra was an outcast from society and was subject to no obligation towards the organized society. He voluntarily chose his life of freedom to act in a manner that was not approved by the society. The society also did not impose any social obligation on him except that he would not harm any member of society. Since Sudra was also to live in human society and enjoy the protection of its established order, he was required to contribute towards its welfare by serving it with his manual labor.

  However, as one was Sudra by his conduct and not by his birth, he was free to improve his conduct and elevate his consciousness and thereby become the highest one on the social rung, that is, a Brahmin.

  There are many instances in ancient Indian history of a Sudra becoming a Brahmin and the example of Maharishi Valmiki is one of them. In the same way, a Brahmin could have degraded himself by his conduct to the lowest Varna, a Sudra.

  One who imposed self-restraint on his animal nature and conduct dictated by this nature to some extent was regarded higher on the Varna scale and on him obligation was imposed to serve the society by supply of goods through agriculture, trade and business.

  By his voluntary conduct, he was of Vaisya Varna. A Vaisya was free to hoard and to earn profit, and to cater his desires subject only to the obligation of keeping his words, that is, complying with business agreements.

  He imposed self-restraint in certain matters and therefore lived a higher level of human consciousness in the organized society.

  A Kshatriya was under an obligation to exercise still higher self-restraint on his conduct. He had to lead a life of self-imposed restrictions wherein he was not to be guided by the motives of profit, greed and their associated comforts.

  He had to conquer not only his selfish desires but also his fears of his physical safety and security in wars with the enemy that was his occupation. He was mandated by Bhagavata Gita “Valour, glory, courage, dexterity, not slinking away from battle, gifts, exercise of lordly power, this is the natural duty of Kshatriyas.”

  He was under the legal obligation to protect all, Sudra to Brahmin, and to impart justice to all, caring not for any harm that he may invite on himself in the discharge of his kingly duties.

  Thus, a Kshatriya was living at the still higher level of human consciousness.

  At the highest rung of the Varna scale was Brahmin who, under the legal prescription of this system, was under an obligation to conquer, in his conduct and life, all his desires. These desires might emanate in his mind from normal human nature ranging from Sudra-inclination of licentious conduct to Vaisya-inclination of greed to Kshatriya-inclination of kingly pride. He was to desire nothing, not even his life, and he was to fear nothing, not even the death.

  These onerous obligations were impossible to be successfully performed by human efforts alone, except with the help and grace of supreme power of the universe – Brahman.

  And a Brahmin was under legal obligation to seek and search throughout his worldly life this supreme power -Brahman alone and guide the fellow human beings on to the correct path with the help of this divine light.

  In return, a Brahmin was to be provided by the society free food, if he needed it at all. The Brahmin was to lead a life of extreme poverty.

  This ancient social institution of Varna could have been reformed by making necessary changes in it in keeping with the modern times and needs under indigenous constitutional framework, particularly by abolishing Varna by birth under a penal law. It required on the part of national leaders of free India to have historical understanding of the roots of this institution and sympathy with the Indian spiritual values that this institution addressed in ancient times. Gandhi had hinted at the relevance, in modern times, of this ancient Indian institution. However, Gandhi was the last spiritual leader of India in recent times who had the necessary insight and sympathy on the subject.

  Also India had evolved four Ashrams, viz., Brahmcharya (studentship), Grhistha (household), Sanyas (renunciation) and Vanaprasth (in preparation of meeting one’s death, leaving the human society). If we go through the history of spiritual India, we would find that this system of four stages of individual’s life had been designed to meet the worldly as well as the spiritual needs human beings. There were four goals – or needs – of humans, viz, Dharma (virtuous conduct), Arth (earning money or means to make worldly life happy), Kama (procreation of next generation) and Moksha (obtaing freedom from rebith – merging oneself with the Supreme Being, Nirvana or Kaivalya). Out of all these goals, the greatest value was ascribed to the spiritual development of common people and all the remaining three were merely the helping prepatation for this last goal. And it successfully met the aim of its intended purpose for thousands of years till its destruction by foreign influence around 1000 AD. This system also could have been reformed and perfected to meet the needs of modern times by our national leaders of free India. But again, these leaders lacked the necessary insight and sympathy on this score. They were mesmerized by modern European ideas and had no time or inclination to consider the spiritual ethos and needs of India.

  Indian people since ancient times have held spiritual persons, saints, yogis and sages, in the highest social esteem. They have done so without any regard to religious affiliation of the spiritual person concerned. In ancient times, Buddhist sramans and Hindu saints were held in equally high social esteem by kings and common men alike. During medieval period of Indian history also, likewise, common people equally regarded both Muslim Sufi saints like Auliya Nizammuddin and Kabeer, and Hindu saints like Nanak and Mira, as divine manifestation.

  The latest example of this infatuation of spiritual persons in India is that of M.K. Gandhi and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (known as Frontier Gandhi). They were regarded the ideal leaders of human society and no heed was paid to their different religious affiliation. Such spiritual persons have been exerting decisive influence on the collective consciousness of Indian society and, without being in the place of political power, they have remained more powerful than the most powerful of the time, that is, the kings, Prime Ministers and Presidents. This valuable element of Indian society evolved by history could have been tapped by the leaders of free India to the advantage of society and institutionalized under an ingenious constitutional scheme. For example, saints like Vinoba Bhave could have been given a place above Prime Minister under some constitutional institution. But here also, these leaders lacked the necessary insight and sympathy on this score.

  Then, what option, in terms of constitutional forms, did India have at the eve of her independence? Generally, constitutions may be divided into two categories, dictatorial and democratic. Dictatorial ones may further be subdivided into those that are based on some ideological thinking (like communism and Nazi or Fascism) and that are based on religious beliefs (like Islamic). Communists do not consider their political system a dictatorship although they take great pride in claiming the same a form of better democracy, which they call proletariat dictatorship. They argue that their system is truly democratic. They maintain that the overwhelming majority of people in almost all countries (except in places where people still live in primitive societies) are economically exploited by rich industrialists (or capitalists) and are without any economic means (money) to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. For them, they say, there is no democracy; in the absence of money, their equality with moneyed persons and their freedom to enjoy equal rights is on paper only, and a farce. Communists say, the so-called democracy is the democracy of capitalists, of rich and moneyed people, who are in minority. It is no democracy at all, their argument runs.

  Let us see this problem from another angle. In a dictatorial form of society a man is forced to comply against his wishes with the demands of the system. This compliance is achieved through coercion and threat of violence. In capitalist democracy also a man is forced against his wishes to comply with the demands of its social order. This compulsion is not achieved by the use of violence but by economic means. Notwithstanding the subtlety of means, it is a compulsion. A man is born in a poor family, he is illiterate because he has no economic means to get education (or, in Indian context English education). He cannot establish an industry because he is not only not educated but also because he has no capital to invest needed for the industry. And this vicious circle passes on to his coming generations. Is there much difference in essence between dictatorial and economic compulsions? Difference seems to be limited only to their means.

Economic justice: the Gandhian and the one that we adopted:

  Is there any grain of truth in this? You can’t avoid hard questions, when the matter comes to importing a constitution from abroad and adapting it to Indian needs at the eve of her independence after paying a heavy price for it with the lives of sung and unsung countless heroes. Adoption of a constitution for free India was not a matter restricted to leaders of a single political party who might have led the independence movement. An overwhelming majority of poor, exploited, illiterate people (to the exclusion of a tiny minority of the rich) and their vital economic interests could not have been legitimately ignored in this exercise of adopting a constitution.

  Gandhi was the real spirit of the last phase of independence movement culminating in freedom, and he was the father of Nation also, and he did not like the import and adoption of rich people’s democracy in India.

  Was there any really viable model of constitutional governance possible in India as an alternative to rich people’s democracy? Did Gandhi suggest one? Gandhi proposed the concept of village republic as the basic unit of the national organization. According to him, village republic was to be spontaneous in growth, natural in character and living in function in political organization of its inhabitants. This concept was not only viable (as it had already existed for thousand of years successfully and needed little augmentation and support) but also it was the most natural form of political organization of Indian people (as they themselves had evolved and perfected it over the ages). Gandhian village republic cannot be equated with the dead institution of today’s Panchayati Raj.

  In view of the urgency of the situation that called for possessing a national constitution promptly, Gandhi proposed the concept of village republic as the basic unit of constitutional model of free India. Being a Karmayogi, he did not rest content with his proposal only. Further, he carved out an active political program to establish these village republics (by propelling the Congress Party to a new phase of its activities), nourishing them (by eradicating evil practices prevalent in village institutions) and spreading them to all corners of India by selfless service of Congressmen. This was the first step towards the end of national constitution on this pattern.

  Towards that end, he proposed immediate dissolution of Congress Party as a political organization and transforming it into a band of volunteers dedicated to the service of people. But others did not agree, prominently among them Jawaharlal Nehru. We should not impute motives. But this is borne by records.

  There should not be any doubt on two counts. One, what we adopted as our constitution (or as it says, we gave it to ourselves), in practice, provided dominance of the rich over the poor and rule of the minority over the majority. And two, what we adopted was not that what Gandhi wanted India to have. We would briefly analyze our constitution in order to judge it in the light of Indian spiritual heritage and then refer to the concept of village republics to ascertain its value in founding a modern state on the same.

  When we deal with fundamental issues concerning our national life – constitutional governance of India – we have to put to ourselves sometimes questions that are rather rude, in bad taste and often avoided. But they should be faced by a nation, particularly because India has always tried to live by truth and taught others also to live in the same manner.

  Our constitution, like most other democratic constitutions of the world, provides political machinery for self-governance that is republican, or elected one, in nature. Additionally, it provides fundamental rights that comprise certain freedoms and rights. It is a bunch of all conceivable rights collected from different countries of the world.

  What did we aim at by first granting all these rights and then allowing the state to put all reasonable restriction on them? By granting a right, say, to carry trade, business etc. a citizen was allowed to manufacture or sell, say, wine and amass an unlimited amount of wealth. What is and what is not a reasonable restriction on this right is left to be decided by courts of law in an ad hoc manner depending upon the situation of the moment. Moreover, imposition of reasonable restrictions on these rights necessitated framing of innumerable laws, increasing the state power and more litigation by citizens, which are against the interest of healthy society. This constitutional scheme – inserting a collection of rights – is flawed when judged from the Gandhian perspective.  Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, says:  “In Swaraj based on Ahimsa people need not know their rights, but it is necessary for them to know their duties. There is no duty but creates a corresponding right, and those only are true rights which flow from a due performance of one’s duties. Hence rights of citizenship accrue only to those who serve the State to which they belong. And they alone can do justice to the rights that accrue to them. … And people, who obtain rights as a result of performance of duty, exercise them only for the service of society, never for themselves. Swaraj of a people means the sum total of the Swaraj (self-rule) of individuals. And such Swaraj comes only from performance by individuals of their duty as citizens. In it no one thinks of his rights. They come, when they are needed, for better performance of duty.”

  Was it not a better wisdom to have duties of citizens written in the constitution that were enforceable in court of law and allowing all rights under the sun to citizens without enumerating them in the constitution? In such an event a citizen would have been obliged to abide by with the enumerated duties and have had all conceivable rights only subject to these duties. In the example we have cited above, the citizen would have had the duty to advance the cause of healthy society and would not have had the right to carry the trade of wine. In this eventuality, there was no need to enact a law imposing restrictions on wine trading and the power of the state would have been curtailed resulting in less litigation and corruption. Such a legal provision would have allowed him to carry on any trade etc. except all those that made the society sick.

  What is the nature of “duty”? Would the replacement of duties in place of rights in the constitution make any difference to the society? Duty puts a restraint on one’s desires and checks its unlimited inflation. This restraint is good for the society and it is good for the individual concerned also from many points of view. Desires are the root cause of all conflicts in society, they are prone to inflation without limits and they are insatiable.

  On the other hand, right is a ‘freedom for desires’ to pursue their objective. By putting duties in the constitution, you would emphasize them and call upon citizens to restrain their desires but by putting rights there, you give a signal to desires to go ahead and fight out their way in the society.

  The most fundamental question that arises in this vital respect is of the efficacy and meaning of granting such rights and freedoms to one and all when a huge gap of economic wealth between a tiny minority and a vast majority exists there. Efforts may be made to alleviate the poverty of this vast majority, and these may succeed also to some extent. But, still the gap is not bridged. And equality remains elusive as ever. Rather, this gap widens and, given the human nature, as it is, it is not the material wealth that matters much for the sense of justice but it is the width of this gap between the two rival segments. Also, the essence of equality is not the economic well being of all but the lessening of this gap.

  Unless you have proper mechanism – constitutional norms and framework – to handle this gap, things go for the worse. With this gap in place, you may resort to any means and all will fail. You may achieve literacy for the poor and educate them; they would become more aware of this gap and, not being equal in means to better off, resort to easy methods of crime, violence and corruption.

  Can any constitutional framework bridge this gap? No, because it is ingrained in the unequal nature of human beings. Many philosophers have dreamed of ending the exploitation and inequality between man and man and many politicians have tried to achieve those dreams. On the one side are those persons (like Socialists and Communists) who thought it possible to achieve such society by outer means and on the other end are those (like Gandhi) who believed that such a thing could be achieved only by internal, spiritual, means.

  The constitution that we have adopted and the original sources from where we have adopted it, do not seek to address this basic and eternal problem. But this very problem and its solution are the core of Indian spiritual vision and the raison d’être of Gandhi’s village republics. By importing an alien constitutional system that neither is in consonance with Indian people’s spiritual ethos nor solves the core problem of human antagonism (and which was admirably handled by this spiritual ethos since time immemorial), we have betrayed our ancient heritage and wisdom.

Secularism and Socialism:

  Gandhi was not enchanted by Secularism, or any thing less than Dharma. Of course, his Dharma was not a narrow Dharma of Hindus alone. It was encompassing the all good moral sense of humanity. He says: “The Swaraj of my … our… dream recognizes no race or religious distinctions. Nor is it to be the monopoly of the lettered persons nor yet of moneyed men. Swaraj is to be for all, including the farmer, but emphatically including the maimed, the blind, and the starving toiling millions. It has been said that Indian Swaraj will be the rule of the majority community, i.e., the Hindus. There could not be a greater mistake than that. If it were to be true, I for one would refuse to call it Swaraj and would fight it with all the strength at my command, for to me Hind Swaraj is the rule of all people, is the rule of justice. Let there be no mistake about my conception of Swaraj. It is complete independence of alien control and complete economic independence. So at one end you have political independence, at the other the economic. It has two other ends. One of them is moral and social; the corresponding end is Dharma, i.e., religion in the highest sense of the term. It includes Hinduism, Islam, Christianity etc., but is superior to them all.  Let us call this the square of Swaraj, which will be out of shape if any of its angles is untrue.”

  The leaders of Indian freedom struggle were driven by noble sentiments of all sorts. On the one end were those who were motivated by purely patriotic feelings, individuals like Sardar Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose, and on the other end were persons who were moved by idealism of different kinds.

  The people moved by idealism ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to Communist leaders, like M.N. Roy. In between there was a vast spectrum of varied ideological shades of leaders. Gandhi was a committed spiritual person; persons like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar longed for the past Hindu glory and Communists were committed Marxists revolutionaries. There were people, like Acharya Narendra Dev, Jai Praksh Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia, who drew inspiration from Marxist Socialism but tried to correct its deficiencies in the light of human nature. Such leaders were committed to the ideals of International Socialist movement, which was humane and liberal version of Marxism as practiced in the Soviet Union. These persons were active both inside and outside of Congress Party. Jawaharlal Nehru was one such person who, despite being very near to Gandhi, was a socialist sympathizer within Congress Party.

  During the turbulent days of the last phase of freedom struggle, especially from 1930 to 1947, most of the communist and socialist leaders were impressed more by the spectacular achievements of Soviet Union than by the ideological books written by Marx and Engles, the founders of so-called Scientific Communism. However, none among the few communists, who might be motivated by intellectual conviction of its philosophy, cared to go to its basic premises to examine their validity in the light of spiritual philosophy and their utility in resolving the eternal problems of exploitation and injustice. Those who tried to do so, like M.N. Roy, Jai Prakash Narayan and Lohia, did not remain communists any longer. Even these people tried to adapt the Marxist philosophy simply to cure its perceived defects and did not examine its basic premises.

  They ended up with a new brand of Indian Socialism and the Radical Humanism. Spiritualism of Gandhi had a philosophic base evolved by India over thousands of years but this revised version of Socialism had no firm base. How thinkers have made their efforts in this direction? We shall have a glance at the philosophic premises of Marxism, as founded by Karl Marx and his collaborator Frederick Engels, which is the mother of all varieties of socialism, and evaluate its worth in comparison to spiritualism.

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