Peace Profile: Jayaprakash Narayan

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [The Aga Khan University]On: 27 October 2014, At: 02:37Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Peace Review: A Journal ofSocial JusticePublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:</p><p>Peace Profile: JayaprakashNarayanS.P. Udayakumaraa S. P. Udayakumar runs the South Asian CommunityCentre for Education and Research at Nagercoil,Tamil Nadu, India.Published online: 12 Mar 2014.</p><p>To cite this article: S.P. Udayakumar (2004) Peace Profile: JayaprakashNarayan, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 16:4, 505-512, DOI:10.1080/1040265042000318761</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Peace Review 16:4, December (2004), 505-512 </p><p>Peace Profile: Jayaprakash Narayan </p><p>S.P. Udayakumar </p><p>Looking back at his long and active politicallife,Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known in India as ':J.P.," claimed that he discerned in it "a uniform line of development," although an outsider may perceive it "as a zigzag and tortuous chart of unsteadiness and blind groping." There was groping, he concedes, but he asserts that it was certainly not blind. Narayan passed through various political stages in his life before he reached near-Gandhian stature in Indian public life with his personal integrity, renunciation of power and positions, and sincere dedication to the ideals of democracy, freedom, human dignity and equality. </p><p>N arayan's political life can be summarized in a single phrase: "quest for revolution." He could think well ahead of the entire nation when the Indian subcontinent was waging a relentless struggle against the British colonialists and decide that mere freedom from the colonial shackles could not alone bring freedom and salvation to the teeming millions. His was the dream of liberating India fiom the chains of both colonial appropriation and age-old exploitation. He knew very well where he was going or had to go, but "how to get there" was his problem. He was a young follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and then an avowed Marxist in the U.S. and again a follower of Gandhi on returning to India. He never completely abandoned the one for the other. </p><p>After a long and tortuous struggle, he synthesized the two big minds and the ideals of\Vestern democracy and evolved a new political philosophy, which may be called "Gandhian socialism." He pondered about the social and political evils in India, the problems the nation faced and the impending bleak future. Aspiring to a "total revolution in every sphere and aspect of society," he placed his hope on the youth of the country and led them in the pace-setting struggle. The arduous life of struggle, harassment and imprisonment, which was dedicated to certain ideals and values, was in a constant search for the ideology and methodology for India's salvation. Having been passed on to the younger generation, the legacy ofj.P. still remains as a guiding star on the Indian political hmizon. </p><p>The young.J.P., a science student in Patna College in Bihar, was drawn to the Indian independence struggle. Although he had established contact with a member of the revolutionary movement, he was attracted by Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement. \\Then the latter called lor non-cooperation with all law courts and educational institutions maintained by the government in early 1921, J.P. ldi Patna College even though the exam was only a few weeks away. </p><p>ISSN 1040-2659 print; ISSN 14-!i!l-9982 onlinc/O,U040505-0B 2004 Taylor &amp; Francis Ltd DOl: I 0.1080/ I 04026.104200031 1!761 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Aga</p><p> Kha</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>37 2</p><p>7 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>506 Peace Profile </p><p>At that time, he conceived the lofty notion of freedom and went on to envisage the freedom of humankind. </p><p>Being unprepared to go back to any educational institution maintained or aided by government and having heard that it was possible to work one's way through in U.S. universities, he sailed for the U.S. with his father's help. He studied at the universities of California at Berkeley, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio by working in fields, factories, restaurants and slaughterhouses. While at Wiscon-sin, he came into close contact with a group of communists, read communist thinkers' works avidly and became an ardent Marxist. He became convinced that political freedom alone was not suflicient but must be accompanied by equality and the end of exploitation, poverty and hunger. Narayan was fascinated by the Marxist theory of revolution and it seemed to offer a surer and quicker way to freedom than Gandhi's technique based on non-cooperation and civil dis-obedience. To his great chagrin, Marxian philosophy offered, besides freedom, equality also. What Lenin had achieved in the Soviet Union proved for him beyond any doubt that the Marxian way of revolution was by far superior. He did not have any inkling at that time that Gandhi was also concerned about the menace of poverty and had his own theory of social revolution. </p><p>\Vhcn J.P. returned to India in November 1929, the country was undergoing a new political upsurge similar to that of 1920 1921 when J.P. left Patna College. Despite his conversion to Marxism, he had remained an Indian nationalist to the core and cherished the Indian independence struggle. The circumstances were also very diflcrcnt andJ.P. came into close personal contact with Gandhi, since his wife had lived with Gandhi's family in their Sabarmati ashram in Gujarat. Narayan met .Jawaharlal Nehru, who had gone to sec Gandhi, and the two developed a close friendship. On Nehru's persuasion, J.P. joined the Congress Party and vigorously participated in the second civil disobedience campaign in 1932-1933. When the top Congress leaders were all arrested, J.P. became the Acting General Secretary of the party in 1932 and kept the campaign alive. He himself was arrested on September 7, 1932. </p><p>T he Communist Party of India (CPI), as per the policy reversal of the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928, focused on building themselves up rather than cooperating with the nationalist organizations in their struggle for independence. They denounced the Indian National Congress and called the congressional leaders the lackeys of the bourgeoisie. This came as a rude shock to J.P. and he became convinced that the socialist struggle in India could not be carried on under the leadership of the CPI or the guidance of the Comintern. At the same time, he was equally convinced that the struggle for socialism and equality could not be put aside until the achievement of indepen-dence. He wanted to combine both struggles and felt the need for a socialist party that would be free from the Comintern's control and act within the nationalist fr</p></li><li><p>Peace Prqfile 507 </p><p>prison with an idea and a vision and eventually launched the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934. He claimed that the CSP had the true understanding of Marxism and was applying it correctly to the Indian situation. </p><p>Although he fostered a Marxist program of Soviet type, J.P. was certainly influenced by Gandhian precepts of decentralization, renunciation of coercion, and refraining from a blind rush for modern machinery. He was not in favor of copying the Soviet model blindly in India. For instance, in the introduction of cooperative and collective farming, he thought there should be no coercion but only encouragement and promotion through propaganda, demonstration, sub-sidy and preferential taxation. In view of the large population and land shortage, he felt India would need few labor-saving devices (at least until industrial development absorbed the surplus rural population) and no large conglomeration of villages with huge collective forms. According to his socialist scheme, cities would be built with geographical planning and concentration would be avoided by diffusing industrial sites. The agro-industrial villages, besides being units of agricultural production, would also become units of industrial production. Thus the impact of Gandhi's ideas was very much prevalent in J.P.'s thinking. </p><p>Doubting that any socialist unity could be worked out with the Communist Party as long as it remained subservient to the Comintern, J.P. was discouraged by deeper doubts about the very nature of the Soviet experiment. The ruthless purges and atrocities of Stalin made him think that there was something basically wrong in the Soviet experiment. This pessimism along with the ever-present influence of Gandhi through his wife paved the way for J.P.'s shift from Marxism to democratic socialism. </p><p>H aving served a prison term of nine months for his incendiary speech favoring non-cooperation with the British war (Second World War) efforts, J.P. was arrested again and kept in a Rajasthan prison without trial. He was caught by the prison officials when he tried to smuggle out letters to his comrades through his wife. Narayan, considering the Second World War a great oppor-tunity for achieving the nation's objective, had asked his comrades in his letters to go underground, collect arms and money and prepare for an armed struggle. The government published the letters in the press so as to alienate him from his followers and older leaders and to tarnish his image: a Congress leader advocat-ing violence. Narayan clarified his position in his letter "To all Fighters for Freedom 1," which is printed in Prasad's A Revolutionary's Qyest: Selected Writings qj' ]ayaprakash Narayan ( 1943): "I have no hesitation in admitting that non-violence of the brave, if practised on a sufficiently large scale, would make violence unnecessary, but where such non-violence is absent, I should not allow coward-ice, clothed in Shastric [Vedic] subtleties, to block the development of this revolution and lead to its failure." But the same J.P., while in Rajasthan prison, undertook a fast for 31 days in support of the demands to disband prison and repatriate prisoners to their home states. </p><p>Narayan escaped from the Bihar prison and organized a guerilla group, Azad Dasta, but was arrested on his way to Rawalpindi ten months after his escape. </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Aga</p><p> Kha</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>37 2</p><p>7 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>508 Peace Profile </p><p>He strongly felt that the masses must be organized for the final struggle for freedom and seizure of power, otherwise community forces would overpower the nationalist forces. He was in favor of intensive work, in villages and towns in all parts of the country and among all sections of the people, which would bring independence and preserve the unity of the country. He was totally against negotiating the terms of independence with the British. The glimpses of future "Total Revolution" had already hit upon his mind. As the country neared its independence, a remarkable change had occurred in his thinking. He was increasingly drawn to gandhian ideals and preferred its tenets like decentraliza-tion, ethical values in public life, and renunciation of violence and dictatorship. He concluded that socialism did not mean merely the satisfaction of material needs of the individual. </p><p>Narayan conceived two paths to socialism: one non-violent, where democratic conditions prevailed, and the other violent, in the absence of democratic norms. In fact, he repudiated the Soviet model when he wrote that "the method of the violent revolution and dictatorship ... (in the only country where it has been tried) has led to something very different, that is, to a bureaucratic State, in which democracy docs not exist." His picture of socialism was an economic and political democracy, where humankind will be free and "neither be slave to capitalism nor to a party or the state." </p><p>He envisioned a socialist India whose economic side would consist of cooper-ative farms run by village panchayats, large-scale industry owned and managed by the state, community-owned and -managed industry, and small-scale industry organized under producers' cooperatives. He thought it was necessary to prevent the state from emerging as the single source of employment and economic development and thereby hampering individual freedom. </p><p>The democratic socialist society was envisaged as involving the following factors: First, the law of the land would be based on the will of the people fiecly expressed by them. Second, full individual and civil liberty and cultural and religious freedom would be guaranteed. Third, all distinctions of birth and privilege would be abolished, and equal rights to all citizens guaranteed. Fourth, social justice and economic freedom would be the guiding principles of the political and economic organization of the state, which would be conducive to the satisfaction of the reasonable requirements of everyone. Fifth, material satisfaction would not be the society's sole objective. Sixth, all large-scale production would be under collective ownership and control. Seventh, small-scale production by individual or cooperative effort would be pursued for the equal benefit of all. And eighth, villages would be self-governing and self-sufficient. </p><p>Emphasizing the Gandhian ideal of purity of means, J.P. became convinced that politics must be dominated not by the pursuit of power, but by commitment to certain moral values. He thought "it would be by constructive work rather than by tactics of parliamentary opposition, by positive...</p></li></ul>