It has been reported that Rakesh Sinha, a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha is set to move a resolution seeking the removal of the term ‘socialism’ from the preamble of the Constitution. He has argued that the word is “redundant” and should be dropped so as to not promote economic thinking based on a “particular thought”. Socialist Party (India) believes that such a move would be unwarranted and ill-advised.
Socialism is a philosophy which is characterised by the belief that the enterprises, services and means of production which exist in a society should be under social ownership and management. This is based on the idea that when people work together for the collective interest of society, it fosters human equality and dignity and nurtures the inherent human capacities for generosity, inclusivity and compassion.
Socialism is not a single, rigid thought or ideology but encompasses a wide range of ideas and conceptions all rooted in this principle. A socialist mode of functioning can be adapted to various cultural and social contexts and has plenty of room for the accommodation of a diversity of perspectives. In a country like India, where extreme social inequality and discrimination based on caste and gender have existed for millennia, socialism, by recognising the inherent worth of every human being, is an ideal that can guide us in building a more humane society.
The importance of socialism has never been more apparent than now in the midst of a pandemic that is threatening to upend human life as we know it. In every affected country public healthcare workers are at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19. There is a universal recognition that only strong and efficient action through the public sector can avert an even bigger crisis. The government of Spain has even implemented a take-over of private hospitals in order to increase the capacity of the existing public healthcare system.
In India, as even the well-off are forced to stay in public hospitals they would never resort to otherwise, the poor infrastructure and facilities of a severely neglected and underfunded public healthcare system are being highlighted. Although the majority of India’s population has been putting up with these conditions all their lives, even the wealthy are now being forced to confront the consequences of putting profit over people.
With most people – especially those in insecure and low-paying jobs such as daily wage workers, street vendors and artisans – facing great economic uncertainty, the importance of robust social safety nets which can help tide over such a time is also becoming apparent. On the other hand, many companies and privately owned businesses are trying to cash in on the crisis by increasing the prices of commodities such as face masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectants and even essential food commodities like wheat. If India had a strong public sector it would have been much better equipped to handle a challenge of this magnitude.
The importance of socialism in other basic services such as education can also not be overstated. Even the capitalist bastion of the world, the USA has a largely government-owned common education system. The public education systems of countries like Canada, UK and other European countries are also known for providing high-quality education to all children for free. Our own neighbour Sri Lanka also has a free public education system which caters to the vast majority of its children and young people. This has resulted in the country achieving a literacy rate of 96%. These education systems form the backbone of the relatively greater social equality and economic mobility these countries provide compared to those where public education is neglected. Why should these effective and essentially socialist systems not be an inspiration and a goal for our country?
The BJP’s own ideal of ‘swadeshi’ which was promoted by them before they gained power, and which could have been the basis for supporting progress and innovation in India, does not seem to be reflected in any of their policies or decisions. Why did they compromise on this ideal? Why are they now giving a free hand to big international corporations like Vedanta to ravage the country’s natural resources and destroy communities? Why do they want to eliminate the important ideals enshrined in our constitution which can provide direction and guidance to the Indian people in these difficult times?
It should also be remembered that in 1982 the BJP’s founding father Atal Bihari Vajpayee had solemnly declared that the party’s creed is Gandhian socialism. Moreover, while taking the parliamentary oath, all its MPs, MLAs and ministers have declared allegiance to the Constitution. Yet, time and again, its luminaries have disrespected the Constitution, particularly the values of secularism and socialism. So, now, the battle lines are clearly drawn. All those championing the cause of social justice and equity should join hands to conduct a vigorous campaign against this move of the BJP. We have to put up a brave fight for safeguarding the preamble and the basic structure of our Constitution. The Socialist Party (India) will not rest until this anti-democratic move of the BJP is defeated.
Pannalal Surana, President, SP(I), Ph: 9423734089, email@example.com
Sandeep Pandey, Vice President, SP(I), Ph: 0522-2355978, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lubna Sarwath, State General Secretary, SP(I) Telangana, Ph: 9963002403, email@example.com
Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, State President, SP(I), UP, Ph: 9415012666
Munnalal, State President, Socialist Mazdoor Sabha, UP, Ph: 9452755765
Bobby Ramakant, Spokesperson, SP(I), firstname.lastname@example.org
Guru Moorthy, Socialist Party (India), Bangalore, email@example.com
Faisal Khan, Member, National Executive, SP(I)
Shuchita Kumar, Member, National Executive, SP(I)
Advocate S. Rajasekharan Nair, State President, SP(I), Kerala, 9447034808, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ram Swaroop Mantri, State President, SP(i), MP, 7999952909, 9425902303, email@example.com
Niraj Kumar, President, Socialist Yuvajan Sabha, firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: 7703933168
Syed Tahseen Ahmed, State President, SP(I) Delhi
Gautam Kumar Pritam, General Secretary, Socialist Yuvajan Sabha
Surabhi Agarwal, Spokesperson, SP(I)