Chapter 2: INDIA SINCE INDEPENDENCE - II
India had inherited its economic and administrative structures from
the colonial and pre-colonial era but the well defined and
comprehensive ideology that inspired it in nation building came from
national movement. This vision incorporated various political trends
both left and right but excluded communalism and ideology of those
loyal to colonialism.
Indian national movement was the biggest mass movement in World
history probably. It succeeded in politicizing and drawing into
political action a large mass of people.Gandhiji believed that
success or failure of a movement relied on the quality of leadership
but mass movements are possible only by peoples action and
Satyagraha which was active non violent resistance
involved millions of people unlike violent movements which could
involve only a handful of committed revolutionaries. Indian leaders
who led these movements became confident of the peoples ability to
withstand the oppression. It was this that made the leaders
who also became the political leaders of independent India to
declare universal adult franchise unanimously in-spite of
The Independence struggle throughout its life campaigned
for civil liberties and representative democracy. The leaders
advocated freedom of expression for all and adult franchise and
popularized the idea of democratic institutions. The Congress which
was the main political body of India was also organized on
democratic lines. All questions and courses of action were debated
and voted before deciding on execution. Dissent was also common but
not repressed. Different political viewpoints too were encouraged. Thus
when congress ministries came to power in 1937 they gave complete
freedom of expression to peasant and workers communist parties as
well as radical groups like Congress Socialist Party.
The congress leaders to protected the freedom of speech and
expression of their opponents like Moderate leaders for Lokmanya
Tilak, Congress leaders also spoke for Bhagat Singh et al, Congress
leaders protested against Bills that sought to curb communism. The
Congress party was responsible for popularizing the concepts of
democracy, representative government and freedom to criticize the
government. the fruit of this was borne by India as now it has
embedded these ideals and they have become part of the society.
However unlike India Pakistan couldn't embrace these concepts and so
the society hasn't developed expectation for such ideals. The
constant turmoil in polity, weak institutions and militarism are a
result of this. the political party that is responsible for creating
Pakistan wasn't known for popularizing concepts of democracy.
Economic Policy post independence
The national leaders unanimously advocated self reliance to be the
focus of economic planning in India. The meaning of self reliance
isn't blocking international trade but supporting India to become an
equal partner of trade and not subordinate to anyone. On the
question of foreign capital the polity was divided. Some were
against foreign capital as it would suppress Indian capital but some
advocated for it arguing that an independent India could use foreign
capital to supplement Indian resources.
The restructuring of agrarian society also took place and
intermediaries like landlords and renters were abolished an "Land to
the Tiller" policy was followed. In sector of Industrialization the
State owned and operated large industries of strategic sectors that
were key for growth and beyond capacity of private capital. Public
sector industries were viewed as Temples of Modern India by Nehru.
Gandhiji however was opposed to all industrialization where machines
replaced human labor. He too was in support of State control over
industries but disagreed on focusing on modern industry. But he
didn't insist on universal acceptance of his policy. Congress
supported integrated and comprehensive planning as the instrument of
development and sponsored the National Planning Committee and Indian
capitalists too formulated the Bombay Plan in 1943.
Congress had a socialist incline under Nehru and even before his
president-ship. The socialists wanted radical ideology that would be
pro poor and leftist in orientation. However congress never decided
that socialism would be its objective nor did they want a socialist
system as that prevalent in USSR. The congress wanted a system where
an egalitarian society would exist and equality of opportunity would
be provided to all. It agreed that along with political freedoms
social and economic rights too were important. It was this
philosophy that enabled it to spearhead many social revolution
campaigns against un-touchability, for free education and women
empowerment. When the question of reservation for SC / ST were being
discussed Congress leaders didn't oppose them.
The base for this economic planning could be traced to work
of Dadabhai Nauroji and other economists who gave the Drain
theory. The moderates influenced by this formed an effective
economic critique of colonialism [Their greatest achievement].
The congress was never able to effectively counter communalism
nor could it protest against the British motives to flame
communalism but its secular credentials reaped a rich dividend
post independence for India.
Indian sense of secularism is different from the western
concept of the term. The western concept is negative i.e.
Separation of state and religion but the Indian aspect is
positive i.e. State shall treat all religions equally.
Indian leaders never appealed to religious feelings of the people
but focused on social and political aspects. They never targeted
the Religion of the British rulers too. Gandhiji though early on
believed politics and religion should be hand in hand but only
because of his belief that all religions are moral and politics
should be based on morality.
However as the communal elements grew and they instigated people
to violent acts in name of religion, Gandhiji changed his views
and also preached against involvement of religion in politics.
Because of its firm secular credentials Independent India kept
secularism as its pillar to constitution, State and society.
Legacy of National Movement to India
National movement bequeathed to India the politics of
accommodation of diverse viewpoints, compromise and reconciliation
Highest norms of politics and political behavior were set by the
movement.The leadership could mobilize millions only because of
its moral integrity. The cadres too were highly motivated and had
quit life, careers for the movement. The movement was highly
innovative and responded to changes in policies of British as well
as growing demands of Indians.
Legacy of the movement could be summarized as: Commitment
to political and economic independence, representative
democracy, civil liberties, internationalism, joyous acceptance
of diversity, independent foreign policy and achievement of all
objectives through accommodation of all people.
Independent India too has honored this legacy and inculcated it
in its institutions and society. However all legacies erode unless
reinforced or reinvented to suit modern needs.
Evolution of the Constitution
When India adopted the Prime ministerial form of government it
wasn't emulating the British Parliament but only formalizing an
accepted mode of government that already existed in Congress and
which the party and people were familiar with. The pillars of the
constitution were the objectives that the Congress was striving to
achieve since its inception: Social and political democracy,
fundamental rights, responsible and representative government etc.
Thus the constitution was a culmination of activities started long
The work done by the national movement inculcated a spirit of
democracy in the people which also led to the constitutions main
focus. Awakening created by the press inspite of colonial
repression ensured that freedom of expression would find its place
in the constitution. The movement rested on shoulders of dumb
millions and believed in the role of women in freedom struggle and
so even the constitution reflected this.
The British believe that the constitution is a result of the
reforms they introduced in India but this is a myth. The British
reforms always were introduced grudgingly and belated manner. They
often fell short of expectations. Indian demands and aspirations
were light years ahead of the British reforms. It was this that
led the constitution makers to borrow from the Government of India
Act, 1935. They felt that there was no need to establish their
independent credentials and also believed in familiarity of
Selected aspects of the Constitution
The Constitution makers envisaged a strong center due to the
effects of Partition, communal riots, necessity of maintaining
national unity, food crisis and settling of refugees.
However this wasn't always the case prior to partition becoming
a certain fact the Constituent Assembly didn't envisage a strong
The judicial innovation of Basic Structure also imposed
limits on the amending power of the Parliament. This
was done to check executive excesses.
British power in India was based on the steel framed bureaucracy
which was used to stiffle national movement. It was the break in
the unrelenting support of the Indian administration and the
Indian army to the British that hastened the end of the Colonial
era. After Independence the structure of the Indian Civil Service
- A cadre of officers who were overpaid,insensitive and British
loyalists, remained same. This was due to partition, political
turmoil, refugee crisis, riots and in this situation ICS remained
an island of stability.