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Gandhian socialism is the branch of socialism based on the national interpretation of the theories of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhian socialism generally centers on Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule authored by Gandhi.

Federation of political and economical power and demonstrating a traditionalist reluctance towards the modernisation of technology and large scale industrialisation whilst emphasising self-employment and self-reliance are key features of Gandhian socialism.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other party leaders initially attempted to incorporate Gandhian socialism as one of the ideological influences of the party in the 1980s to moderate its Hindu nationalism, but the BJP failed to achieve electoral success from this.[1][2]


The ideology of Gandhian socialism is rooted in Gandhi's work titled Swaraj and India of My Dreams in which, he describes Indian society, with no one rich or poor, no class conflict, where there is an equal distribution of the resources, and self-sufficient economy without any exploitation and violence.[3] Thus, Gandhian socialism differed from Western socialism because the latter believed in material progress whereas Gandhi considered every one materially equal.[4] As Jawahar Lal Nehru puts in his biography, "he suspects also socialism, and more particularly Marxism, because of their association with violence." He believed his style of socialism came from the strong beliefs he held in non-violence and not those adopted from any books.[5] Many experts observed that, similar to other schools of socialism, Gandhi's concept of socialism was a result of ethical considerations, but had nothing to do with class-consciousness as professed by the western socialism.[6] There was also a religious aspect of Gandhi's socialism. To understand Gandhi's socialist philosophy, as Romain Rolland observed; "it should be realized that his doctrine is like a huge edifice composed of two different floors or grades. Below is the solid groundwork, the basic foundation of religion. On this vast and unshakable foundation is based the political and social campaign."[7]

Economic philosophy

The key aspects of the economic policies of Gandhian socialism are based on ethics. According to Gandhi: "Economics that hurts the moral well-being of a human or a nation is immoral and, therefore sinful". Hence, Gandhian socialism roots for economic social justice by promoting equality for all.[8] Evolving from this ideology, the economic components of Gandhian socialism are centered around Swaraj, resulting from complete economic freedom. This is achieved through self-sufficiency and self-reliance, where, everyone gets an appropriate share of his labor. Therefore, Gandhian socialism advocates a society without economic classes, which Gandhi termed it as Sarvodaya.[9][10] An example of this concept can be seen in the implementation of Panchayat Raj in India.[11] In 1938, during the formulation of an economic plan for the post-independent India, it was noted that the planning under a democratic India should be based not only on raising the standard of living by copying various socialist, capitalist, or a fascist nation's plan, but it should be centered towards its roots firm in Indian soil and India's problems.[12]

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ "Harsh lessons for BJP, for RSS too". 14 April 2005. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  2. ^ "National : We are for Gandhian socialism, says Vajpayee". The Hindu. 11 September 2004. Archived from the original on 27 September 2004. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  3. ^ Koshal & Koshal 1973a, p. 191.
  4. ^ Koshal & Koshal 1973a, p. 197.
  5. ^ Majumdar, Bimanbihari (September 1969). "Gandhi and Socialism". Indian Literature. 12 (3): 10–11. JSTOR 23329173.
  6. ^ Pradhan 1980, p. 97.
  7. ^ Romain Rolland (1924). Mahatma Gandhi: The Man who Became One with the Universal Being. Century Company. p. 26. ISBN 9780824004989.
  8. ^ Rao, V.K.R.K.V (December 1970). "The Gandhian Alternative to Western Socialism". India Quarterly. 26 (4): 331–332. doi:10.1177/097492847002600401. JSTOR 45069630. S2CID 153248034.
  9. ^ Koshal & Koshal 1973a, p. 192.
  10. ^ Pradhan 1980, p. 170.
  11. ^ Koshal & Koshal 1973b, p. 313.
  12. ^ Koshal & Koshal 1973b, p. 315.