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[Part 2] Values derived from National Freedom Struggle


India

Humanism

The national movement evolved a much broader concept of humanism, that guided the Indian state, post-independence. The National movement was motivated by a humanistic spirit, that guided the people towards a common brotherhood. This human spirit was based on two sources:

  • First, a scientific rationality, which came as a guide to help do away with the obscure and primordial elements in the Indian culture. Many of these elements became manifest in the socio-religious reform movements, in the Pre-Independence time. A scientific perspective opened the eyes of the masses to the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • Second, a sense of cultural identity of India. The vast heritage of the Indian culture supplied the essential moral basis to the Indian freedom struggle, and later to the Indian state.
  • The early signs of humanism were manifest in the activities of the social reformers in the pre-independence time. The movements like Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission etc, played an important role in opening the eyes of the masses. While the individuals like Rammohan Roy relied on scientific rationalism, others like Swami Vivekananda and Dayananda Saraswati tried to find their ideas from the rich cultural heritage of India.
  • A number of social movements arouse in this time. One of the important ones was the Anti-Caste Movements, that tried to bring equality and brotherhood in the society.
  • Later, another strand of humanism emerged- Scientific Humanism. The main advocates of this school were Nehru and M N Roy. They advocated a socio-economically humane system, while showing an inclination towards the leftist ideas.
  • Gandhi also stressed on the cultural heritage of India. He rejected the caste and religious distinctions, and supported his arguments from the Indian tradition itself. A significant part of Gandhi’s life was devoted for promotion of the Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • Here, it is important to throw some light on the British efforts in promoting humanism in India. British played a proactive role in the promotion of humanitarian reforms in India. The EIC introduced a number of reforms to curb the practices like Sati, Child Marriage, Purdah etc. It was also due to the efforts of the British that Indians were acquainted with the western philosophical traditions.

Universal Peace and Brotherhood

The National Movement was not parochial in its perspective. It’s broader aim was to reach out, and establish peace in the world. Leaders like Gandhi, Tagore, and Nehru carried a rich internationalist perspective. Since the beginning, the goal of Indian freedom struggle has been to establish peace and mutual cooperation among the different countries.

This aspect of the National movement also manifested itself, through its response to the international events. Indian leaders expressed a strong condemnation of the authoritarian regimes, that came up in the different parts of the world. Indian National Congress reacted against the acts of Nazis in Germany and condemned the inhuman persecution of the Jews. It was due to the authoritarian nature of the Nazis that India decided to help the British against Germany.

Similarly, Indians supported the struggle of the Black people in South Africa against the Apartheid. India became one of the first countries to apply sanctions against South African government.

In the Cold War era, India has always stood for non-alignment and independence in decision making. India’s role in the non-alignment movement secured it a pioneer status among the developing countries.

Democracy and Freedom

Fight for democracy and civil liberties has been an integral element of the Indian freedom struggle. The struggle against the colonial regime gave India a strong commitment against colonialism and imperialism. As a result, after independence, Indian state aided and actively supported the cause of decolonization.

Democracy has become a constitutive element of the Indian state. This element of democracy has been nurtured through a network of grass root institutions. Every individual has a right to protest and expressive his/her concerns freely. Due to this element, the Indian state has stood, while the neighboring states have fallen to authoritarian regimes.

Socialism and Planned Development

Indian society was left in a degraded state by the British. Thus, it was an urgent task to revive the economy. Therefore, the leadership chose the path of planned development. This course of development was specially suited to the Indian case because- the leadership had to educate the masses against the disastrous policies of the colonizers; and to make them understand the alternative solution of the problems of poverty and deprivation.

Thus, the leaders went for a comprehensive planning process. This approach was inspired from the Soviet plan of development. The main purpose of this approach was-

To transform the agrarian system of India and address the problem of landlordism; The planning process was aimed as a comprehensive process to address the problems of the masses. Planning process was not to be restricted to production alone, but to be expanded to distribution as well.

 

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