Ah! Don’t say you agree with me. When people agree with me
I always feel that I must be wrong
—Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted,
nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Bacon, Essays ‘Of Studies’.
In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments … there are consequences.
R G Ingersoll in Lectures and Essays
Our Constitution expresses a vision for the people of India before the onset of the time when the calculators, sophisters, economists, and the Lucifers of neo-liberalism could overtake our polity, and develop a mesmerizing effect on us. There are good reasons to believe that the vital words in our Constitution are not ‘fixed factors’: or to say the same in the words of Dr. I.A. Richards (Philosophy of Rhetoric, p. 55): what we call the “meanings” of the words “are resultants which we arrive at only through the interplay of the interpretative possibilities of the whole utterance.” “Inference and guesswork!”
Justice Homes of the US Supreme Court observed in Lochner v. New York [198 U S, 45, 75-76 (1905)] that ‘The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics.’ The present Government, the lobbyists and the compradors, working for the Rule of Market [Pax Mercatus of the neo-liberals] in our Republic, believe [and now try even to make our Supreme Court believe] that the framers of our Constitution had enacted in our Constitution the politico-economic doctrine of Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, or of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, or of the IMF or the WTO, or of those of our country who have sipped their manna at the well-known institutions of the present-day rogue financial system contrived as an integral part of the architecture of the market-ruled Economic Globalization pursuing neo-liberal agenda crafted under an Opaque System, the early version of which was the ‘Washington Consensus’.
The quest to answer the points pertaining to the propriety of the insertion of the concept of ‘Socialism’ by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment requires a broad-spectrum consideration of ‘Socialism’ under the parameters of our Constitution.
The collective consciousness of our Constituent Assembly
On the examination of the broad profile of our Constituent Assembly the following points emerge:
(i) The Constituent Assembly was virtually a microcosm of India. All the leading lights of our Freedom Movement were assembled there. They had in their marrow the fire that burnt throughout our Struggle for Freedom. They possessed what the Art 51A of our Constitution wants every citizen of this Republic to acquire: the ideal to “(b) cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.” It was, as Granville Austen says a one-party body in essentially one-party country. The Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India.”
(ii) ‘The membership of the Congress in the Constituent Assembly and outside held social, economic, and political views ranging from the reactionary to the revolutionary.’ Austin comments: “…because the Congress and its candidates covered a broad spectrum, those elected to the assemblies did represent the diverse viewpoints of voters and non-voters alike.”
(iii) The Constituent Assembly was never under the hangover of Karl Marx. Neither the Communist Party nor the Socialist Party had their representatives in the Constituent Assembly. Austin comments:
“The absence of a formal Socialist group meant little, however, for most members of the Assembly thought themselves as Socialists , and with few exceptions the members believed that the best and perhaps only way to the social and economic goals that India sought was by the road of government initiative of industry and commerce.’
(iv) It had, as its members, some of the most distinguished capitalists who had shared the ethos which our Struggle for Freedom had created. One of them was Maharajadhiraj Dr. Sir Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga, who as a member of the Constituent Assembly shared the common vision with others, though as a litigant he moved courts against his Rights to Property which led to the First Amendment to the Indian Constitution inserting Articles 31A, 31B, and the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution. But he had celebrated the work of our Constituent Assembly even in England by hosting a celebrated party in London which was noticed and chronicled in the Romance of Savoy.
15. That Jawaharlal Nehru was decidedly at the most conscious point of the collective consciousness of the Constituent Assembly. His vision, which was largely shared by most of the members of the Constituent Assembly, has been thus summarized by Bipin Chandra & others with a remarkable perspicacity and insight (so remarkable that this humble self quotes them here to fully endorse what they have said):
“Nehru rejected the capitalist developmental and civilisational perspective and, instead, worked for fundamental transformation of Indian society in a socialist direction. Clearly, he did not succeed in building a socialist society and there was a large gap between his precepts and practice. But he did, over the years, grapple with the problem of initiating socialism in an under-developed country with a democratic polity. It was Nehru, above all, who carried the socialist vision to millions and made socialism a part of their consciousness. Moreover, his ideas on socialism and his strategy for its establishment and development, as also his political practice, provided deep insights into the problem of socialist transformation in the modern world.
What did socialism mean to Nehru? In fact, Nehru never defined socialism in terms of a definite scheme or rigid general principles. To him, generally, socialism meant greater equality of opportunity, social justice, more equitable distribution of higher incomes generated through the application of modern science and technology to the processes of production, the end of the acute social and economic disparities generated by feudalism and capitalism, and the application of the scientific approach to the problems of society. Socialism also meant the eventual ending of the acquisitive mentality, the supremacy of the profit motive, and capitalist competitiveness and the promotion instead of the cooperative spirit. It also meant the gradual ending of class distinctions and class domination. Socialism also laid down on the large-scale social ownership or control over the principle means of production but Nehru insisted that, first of all, socialism concerned greater production, for there could be no equal distribution of poverty. In fact, to him socialism was equal to greater production plus equitable distribution.
In Indian conditions, Nehru regarded socialist transformation as a process and not as an event. Socialism was then not a clearly pre-defined, pre-laid-out scheme towards which the process of transformation moved. Instead socialism was expected to go on being defined, stage by stage, as the process advanced. There was to be no sudden break but gradual change. Socialist transformation was to be viewed in terms of a series of reforms which would occur within the orbit of the existing socio-economic structure, but which would, over time and in their totality, amount to a revolution or a structural social transformation. Nehru described these reforms as ‘surgical operations’. Socialist revolution would, thus, consist of a series of ‘surgical operations’ performed through the due process of law by a democratic legislature.
Nehru believed that democracy and civil liberties had to be basic constituents of socialism, and were inseparable from it.”
Pandit Nehru had noticed certain malignant features of the times against which he had cautioned his countrymen. In his Glimpses of the World History, (with which almost everyone in the Constituent Assembly was familiar), vital ideas had been set forth, with which most of the members must have been conversant. These ideas shaped our Constitution as they were vital inputs and vectors in the creative matrix of our Constituent Assembly. Hence some of his key ideas are culled from the book . His prognosis was shared widely. It is a fact of which Judicial Notice deserves to be taken. To quote a few scintillating ideas from the said book:
(i) “So, as a result of the Mechanical Revolution, capitalist civilization spread all over the world and Europe was dominant everywhere. And capitalism led to imperialism. So that the century might also be called the century of imperialism. But this new Imperial Age was very different from the old imperialisms of Rome and China and India and the Arabs and Mongols. There was a new type of empire, hungry for raw materials and markets. The new imperialism was the child of the new industrialism. “Trade follows the flag”, it was said, and often enough the flag followed the Bible.”(Page 399)
(ii) “But much of this wealth and the raising of the standard of living was at the expense of exploited people in Asia, Africa, and other non-industrialized areas. This exploitation and flow of wealth hid for a while the contradictions of the capitalist system. Even so, the difference between the rich and poor grew; the distance became greater. They were two different peoples, two separate nations. Benjamin Disraeli, a great English statesman of the nineteenth century, has described them :
(i) “Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are not governed by same laws….the Rich and the Poor.” (Page 403)
(ii) “It becomes clearer and clearer that the government is definitely a class government, out to protect by all means the class it represents. Laws are also class laws.” (Page 404)
(iv) “Democracy dealt with the political aspect of liberty. It was a reaction against autocracy and other despotisms. It offered no special solution of the industrial problems that were arising, or of poverty, or of class conflict. It laid stress on a theoretical freedom of each individual to work according to his bent, in the hope that would he would try, from self-interest, to better himself in every way, and thus society would progress. This was the doctrine of laissez faire, about which I think I wrote to you in your previous letter. But the theory of individual freedom failed because he man who was compelled to work for a wage was far from free.”(Page 405)
(v) “Both communism and fascism have opposed and criticized democracy, though each has dome so on entirely different grounds. Even in countries which are neither communists nor fascists, democracy is far less in favor than it used to be. Parliament has ceased to be what it was, and commands no great respect. Great powers are given to executive heads to do what they consider necessary without further reference to Parliament. Partly this is due to the critical times we live in, when swift action is necessary and representative assemblies cannot always act swiftly. Germany has recently thrown her Parliament overboard completely and is now exhibiting the worst type of fascist rule. The United States of America have always given a great deal of power to their President, and this has recently been increased. England and France are about the only two countries at present where Parliament still functions outwardly as in the old days; their fascist activities take place in their dependencies and colonies-in India we have British fascism at work, in Indo-China there is French fascism “pacifying” the country. But even in London and Paris, parliaments are becoming hollow shells. Only last month a leading English liberal said:
“Our representative Parliament is rapidly becoming merely the machinery of registration for the dictates of a governing caucus elected by an imperfect and badly working electoral machine.” (Page 823)
(v) “I have referred to democracy as “formal” in the preceding paragraph. The communists say that it was not real democracy; it was only a democratic shell to hide the fact that one class ruled over the others. According to them, democracy covered the dictatorship of the capitalist class. It was plutocracy, government by the wealthy. The much-paraded vote given to the masses gave them only a choice of saying once, in four or five years, whether a certain person, X, might rule over them and exploit them or another person, Y, should do so. In either event the masses were to be exploited by the ruling class. Real democracy can only come when this class rule and exploitation end and only one class exists. To bring about this socialist State, however, a period of the dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary so as to keep down all capitalist and bourgeois elements in the population and prevent them from intriguing against the workers’ State.”(Page 824)
(vi) “Democracy means equality, and democracy can only flourish in an equal society. It is obvious enough that the giving of votes to everybody does not result in producing an equal society. In spite of adult suffrage and the like, there is to-day tremendous inequality. Therefore, in order to give democracy a chance, an equal society must be created, and this reasoning leads them to various other ideals and methods. But all these people agree that present day parliaments are highly unsatisfactory.”(Page 825)
(vii) “To increase and strengthen this international business, English banks opened branches and agencies all over the world. The Governor of the Bank of England sometimes knew more about it than the government of that country. High Finance as this was called, was, and still is, one of the most effective of the methods of coercion of the imperialist Powers.” (p. 895).
(viii) “Men in authority-kings, statesmen, generals, and the like-are advertised and boomed up so much by the Press and otherwise that they often appear as giants of thought and action to the common people. A kind of halo seems to surround them, ad in our ignorance we attribute to them many qualities which they are far from possessing. But on the closer acquaintance they turn out to be very ordinary persons. A famous Austrian statesman once said that the world would be astounded if it knew with what little intelligence it is ruled. So these three, the “Big Three”, big as they seemed, were singularly limited in outlook and ignorant of international affairs, ignorant even of geography!” (Page 677)
The members of the Constituent Assembly were well versed in oriental cultural ideas, and most of them were distinguished masters in humanities and jurisprudence. On a close scanning of their career and thoughts, this humble self is driven to conclude that the Bhagavad-Gita had the greatest impact on their thought which shaped their ideas at work in the framing of our Constitution. It is really tragic to note that our jurists have never appreciated this fact because their western orientation never freed them from the blinkers forged on of the Western borrowings. This synoptic deduction is based on the principles of probability. J. Bronowski very aptly says:
“There are many gifts that are unique in man; but at the centre of them all, the root from which all knowledge grows, lies the ability to draw conclusions from what we see to what we do not see, to move our minds “through space and time, to recognize ourselves in the past on the steps of the present.”
(1)The idea of the Welfare State
The idea of the Welfare State was clear to all who had known the concept of lokasangrham explained in the Bhagavad-Gita: to cite one (Ch. III.20) of the many slokas:
Lokasamgraham eva pi
Sampasyan kartum arhasi
[“Thou shouldst do works also with a view to the maintenance of the world”]
Loka sangraham is explained by V.S.Apte, in his A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, to mean ‘the welfare of the world’, and for the ‘propitiation of mankind’. It is defined by Acharya Rama Chandra Verma in his Manaka Hindi Kosh thus: “1.Sab longo ko prassana rakhkar unhe apne sath milaye rakhna. 2. Sansar ke sabhi longo ka kalyan ya mangalka dhyan rakhna.” Swami Gambhirananda, in his annotation of Madhusudana Saraswati’s Bhagavad-Gita says: “Lokasangraha means making people understand their own duties and preventing them from taking the wrong path.” (at p.. 237).
(2) Our social vision, as expressed in our Constitution, is egalitarian, it harbours no ill-will against any section of people. Our polity is founded on universal franchise; and our Struggle of Freedom evidenced the involvement of the whole notion. This sort of universalism could be got only from the Bhagavad-Gita which thought of the weal of all, rather than of a class, as did Karl Marx.
(2) Attitude towards Property:
The Oriental philosophy, whether Hindu, Muslim, or the pristine Christianity, never considered Property the fruit of an individual’s acquisitiveness. Social purpose was always most dominant, as the society looked down upon greed and selfishness. They considered that all property was God’s (or Nature’s) gift for the welfare of all. The whole story (in the Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana) of Shyamantaka Mani (that most precious jewel which begot gold every day) is a powerful metaphoric presentation of the approved idea as to Property. Such a property could not be a matter of an individual’s greed. Krishna advised that such a property, irrespective of the fact who acquired, and how he acquired it, should go to the State for promoting public weal. And in the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna expressed similar ideas:
Eating sacrificial remains,
The good are freed from all evils;
The wicked eat their own evil
Who cook food only for themselves. Chap. III.13
As the unwise ones act, attached,
O Descendant of Bharata,
So the wise should act, unattached,
For maintaining the world’s welfare. Chap. III.25
It is worthwhile to point out the ideas about Property which have come down us as part of our Consciousness. Our Society had never appreciated acquisitiveness. It can be illustrated by some apt references to the great books of our culture:
(a) The Srimad Bhagavad Purana tells the story of Dhenukasur who had asserted his monopoly over all the fruits and trees in the area he controlled. He prevented humans, birds and beasts alike from an access to the natural resources. Krishna fought with him, and destroyed him in order to make the social resources available for all.
(b) Krishna had resorted to a revolt, as Jesus had done against the Herodian establishment and the callous money-changers (the ancestors of the present-day bankers, the arch-priests of the neo-liberalism), against Indra and Kamsa who asserted their exploitative imperium over people.
(c) Krishna held in the Bhagavad-Gita that Property acquired merely for acquisitiveness and greed is clearly sinister: it is simply ‘THEFT’ (Chap. III.12). [It reminds us of the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who had said: “Property is theft.”]
(d) The characteristic approach of our great society was expressed by great poet Surdass who said:
“Hungry belly cannot pray” [bhukhe bhajan na hohi Gopala].
Even God cannot be worshipped by a hungry man.
(e) It is narrated in the Bhagavad Mahapurana (Canto V. Chap. 56) that Satrajit acquired a Shyamantak precious stone which could beget a good quantity of gold. Krishna advised him that such a property should go the State for the benefit of all. He, like the present-day rabid capitalists, refused and ridiculed Krishna. But he could not keep that wealth as it was snatched from his brother while he was roaming in a forest. A canard was spread against Krishna that he had got that person killed to snatch that precious stone. Krishna saw to it that the precious stone was traced out. It was brought to the King’s court, and Satrajit was called to face it. His soul was not so debased as that of James Mill, so he was repentant. Krishna gave him back as a matter of trust for public weal. Perhaps, when Gandhi was asking the acquirers of property to treat Property a matter of public trust, he was stressing what Krishna had said. Property under trust is for the weal of all. The looters of public wealth are public enemies. Their greedy acquisitiveness would provide justification for people’s wrath ( recalling Krishna’s dharma-yudha, Mohammad’s resort to sword, Jesus’ wrath against the Herodian establishment and the exploitative pursuits of the money-changers of Jerusalem, and Mahatma’s stern warning to the neo-liberalists and others of the same feathers that if acquisitiveness and greed become the sole motivating force of the manipulators and the usurpers of Property, then “ignorant, famishing millions will plunge the country” into a creative chaos. This process, as Gandhi himself said, cannot be averted even by “the armed force, that a powerful Government can bring into play, can avert.” )
(3) Human nature and the Imperatives of polity and governance:
Why do we need government? This question had been answered in the West by Thomas Hobbes (1588 –1679), the author of Leviathan; by John Locke, ( 1632 – 1704), the author of his two Treatises on Government; and by Rousseau (1712 –, 1778), the author of The Social Contract, and also by the authors of the American Declaration of Independence (1776). This question is being answered in our days by the neo-liberals like Hayek and Friedman. They are all rationalizers who advocate the cause dear to those who called their tunes. It is the evidence of the cultural poverty of the West that all its theorists have erected in their work their own ego in the service of the vested interests. raison d’etre for a government yet made in the world is what Krishna said in the Bhagavad-Gita explaining the ways and the propensities of the demonic persons. The ‘demonic persons’ constitute one of the three categories of the humans categorized in the light of their gunas (traits?). Speaking of such beings Krishna says graphically in the Chapter XVI of the Gita:
“The universe is without truth,
Without a basis, without God,
Produced by mutual union,
With lust for cause–what else?” say they. (8)
Bound by a hundred ties of hope,
Given over to lust and wrath,
They strive to gain by unjust means
Wealth for sensual enjoyment. (12)
“This today has been gained by me;
And this desire I shall obtain;
All this is mine, and now this wealth
Also shall be mine in future. (13)
“I slew that enemy, and more
I shall slay. For I am the Lord,
I enjoy, I am successful,
Perfect, powerful, and happy. (14)
“I am rich and well-born,” they say,
“Who else is equal unto me?
Such ‘demonic persons’ are always available in plenty in every society. Hitler was one who made his demonic appeal to his “ divine mission”, President Bush was another whose acquisitiveness and lust for power the whole world knew (despite his most insincere ‘divine mission’ for democracy.)
It must be recognized that the law and the constitution are needed to discipline only the demonic people. Krishna explained the ways how the demonic people behave, and he instructed ways how they should be dealt with in order to protect society. He did not segregate his ideas from the spiritual-temporal complex, but we can easily discern the norms coming within that intersection which comes within the province of ‘polity’. Under such an intersection come the following problems needing solutions:
(a) how to tame Power so that none can ever turn a demigod;
(b) how to ensure Justice in all the spheres of social existence which come within the frontiers of polity, and governance;
© what sort of philosophy should govern our relationship with the resources including Property, and how to control greed and lust so that public welfare is not frustrated;
(d) how to ensure Equality amongst the humans in all matters which come within the contemplation of a civil society for its security, survival, peace and justice;
(e) how to ensure Freedom from Fear; so that the citizens of this great Republic can tell any demonic power: We share with Arjuna who had two resolutions: “neither servility to anyone, nor abdication of the role which we consider just” . The wish for a life with dignity that our Constitution wishes for in its Preamble;
(f) how to create conditions under which all can perform their Kartavy-karma in order to realize a just order.
Our Constitution-makers were the revolutionaries for whom the nation mattered most; they were not like the hacks who are engaged by vested interests to craft a constitution. At the dawn of the new India they had in their mind not The Communist Manifesto, or the Road to Serfdom but the Bhagavad-Gita (unless someone can be so foolish as to plead that their mind was a tabula rasa on which the neo-liberalists could script their brief).
The Bhagavad-Gita rejects, so does our Constitution, ideas such as these:
(a) The Bhagavad-Gita and our Constitution contemplate no class conflict or class struggle. They do not recognize dialectics central to the thought of Hegel and Marx. Our Constitution commits our polity to social justice under a system in which all live and work without discrimination, and under conditions whereunder life is surely not a mere animal existence. We have rejected Marx’s dictum: “The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”. Our society over centuries, except in the eras of servitude, has always believed in co-existence and harmony. This approach alone has helped our culture and civilization to last when most others celebrated in the past have gone into the museum of the past events and lost causes. It is unique feature of our long history that in its most phases, organized governments have been optional.
(b ) The driving force in the cosmic affairs for Hegel is Spirit. For Marx the driving force is Matter, which means that for him “the driving force is really man’s relations to matter, of which the most important part is the mode of production”, in effect, his ‘materialism, in practice, becomes economics.’ In the Bhagavad-Gita (and our Constitution) the driving force is lokmangal, welfare of all. Both these reject Hegelian and Marxist dichotomies reflected in their theories of dialectics. In the Gita the harmony is the natural consequence of the concept of Isvara over Prakrit and Purusha; under our Constitution it is brought about by the idea of everyone’s weal (lokamangal).
(c) The doctrine of Communism is based on the theory of the INEVTABILITY OF PROGRESS. It contemplates a Second Coming, something like the El Dorado of the Utopians, or the ‘Trickle-down theory of the neo-liberal economists triumphant in this present phase of Economic Globalization. Marx led us to a dream, Darwin made us to turn irresponsible as evolution is bound to take place anyway, and the neo-liberalists dangle before us a carrot they call ‘the Trickle-down theory’ to emanate from the neoliberal paradigm. Mahatma Gandhi’s talisman, which is the best guide for all decision-makers (executive, legislative and judicial) must not be allowed to be lost in the sleaze of greedy manipulation; it must not be allowed to get quoted at nil at our mercurial Stock-Market. Gandhi had said:
“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test:
Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man whom you have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.”
How close is Gandhi, how quintessentially exact in justice is this barrister turned saint! The Poor of this and many other lands, should the Christian capitalists of the West: why have they ignored Christ for Hayek-Milton-Thatcher-Bush conglomerate and others of the same feathers? What it is now the status of what Christ had said? to quote what we can find in Mathew 6.24: “You can not serve God and Mammon.”
(e) The Bhagavad-Gita and our Constitution contemplate Rights and Duties for the development and happiness of all. The Utilitarians are satisfied with the happiness of a few, thereby facilitating the emergence of Capitalism, Fascism, and now neo-liberalism. Their arch-priest Bentham cared little for the liberty of all. He thought of the liberty only of a few. The rights of man, he said, are plain nonsense, nonsense on stilts. When the French revolutionaries made their ‘Declaration des droits de l’homme,’ Bentham called it ‘a meta-physical work—the ne plus ultra of metaphysics’. It was argued that the “articles could be divided into three classes: (1) Those that are unintelligible, (2) those that are false, (3) those that are both.” We have, as is evidenced under our Constitution, rejected such foolish ideas. Our Constitution posits an over-arching social vision for the Free India.
(d) Our Constitution, right from its inception, is cast to promote the welfare of all sections of our political community. On this point it differs from all other celebrated Constitutions, be of the USA, France, Russia, or even the U.K. In all these Constitutions, polity had been constructed for the delight of the affluent and dominant sections of people, and the commoners of the societies had to wait and struggle for even more than a century even to acquire the rights to universal suffrage. Our Constitution, like the Bhagavad-Gita, is universal and egalitarian: mandating a quest for universal weal. It is remarkable that even the members elected on a narrow franchise, had an over-arching vision, which can best be called our ‘Constitutional Socialism’
(e) The Bhagavad-Gita is a Shastra, so is our Constitution. We obey our Constitution because we have learnt to obey Shastra (The Gita XVI.23). The obedience to our Constitution is thus a cultural imperative.
The real problem in framing a democratic constitution is how to tame Power and prevent its misuse through omissions or commission. Bertrand Russell has made the following perceptive comment in his Autobiography:
“My next piece of work was Power, a new social analysis. In this book I maintained that a sphere of freedom is still desirable even in a socialist state, but this sphere has to be defined afresh and not in liberal terms. This doctrine I still hold. The thesis of this book seems to me important, and hoped that it would attract more attention than it has done. It was intended as a refutation both of Marx and the classical economists, not on a point of detail, but on the fundamental assumption that they shared. I argued that power, rather than wealth, should be the basic concept in social theory, and that social justice should consist in equalization of power to the greatest practicable degree. It followed that State ownership of land and capital was no advance unless the State was democratic, and even then only if methods were devised for cutting the power of officials.”
Our Constitution too recognizes Freedom within the discipline of ‘Constitutional Socialism’. It determines the reach of freedom recognizing the limits in the interest of others. Our Constitution’s fundamentals are pragmatic, and socialistic. It does not share the assumptions of Marx, or of the classical economists, or of the neo-liberal economists. Our Constitution tames power, and puts wealth under an egalitarian discipline. It is not difficult to see that wealth corrupts power, and power enjoys whoring with wealth. The correct perspective is to consider our problems under the discipline of our ‘Constitutional Socialism’. The ideal of ‘Social Justice’ is the very heart of the matter as without it polity and governance both are unjust intrusion. But this socialist pursuit would be wholly futile unless we have a substantial democracy for the benefit of all. But a socialist democracy requires distribution of power, as the concentration of power always leads to tyranny. With this objective our Constitution provides a directive to the State (Art. 40):
“The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as my be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government”
But what is most worrisome in this phase of neo-liberalism is a systematic evasion of Art 40 on account of the government’s lust for more and more power, which (and it is a devastating irony) is now being used for the promotion of the interests of the corporations and the High Net Worth Individuals.
(4) The Standards Applicable in Decision-making:
The utilitarians of the West (like Bentham and Mill) pleaded that all decisions should promote the greatest good for the greatest number. In short such political scientists were the consequentialists. They measure the propriety of an action in the light of the possible or potential consequence of the act as seen in short range. They would say that Krishna shouldn’t have participated in the Mahabharata War because its objective consequences were good neither for the victors nor the vanquished. But the criticism is misconceived. What is important is the point of view and the reason leading to the act. The objective of an act is under our Constitution, as under the Bhagavad-Gita, is not “greatest good for the greatest number”; bur the welfare of all. This perspective is now being shared to some extent by the welfare economists like Dr Amartya Sen; yet the vision of welfare, as we get in the Gita and find in our Constitution, is most comprehensive and for the lokamangal of all. The great poet ‘Dinkar’ had felicitously described in his epic Kurukshetra:
Can’t there be peace, any peace ever,
Till people share not in equality what comes.
None should have much beyond needs,
And none should be destitute or famished.
Justice is the supreme trust for peace.
Till Justice comes not for all,
Howsoever the affairs be arranged,
The castle of peace cannot ever stand.
The makers of our Constitution must have been aware of what was known as the Wallace Paradox. Alfred Russel Wallace in his The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures (1898) had expressed his concern at: “The exponential growth of technology matched by the stagnant morality” which implied “ only more potential for instability and less capacity for reasonable prognostication.” The Wallace Paradox turned more confounding with the subsequent passing decades thereafter. And he graphically presented, in his Bad Times (1885), the picture of the economic management of the West in the 19th century seemingly so rich in achievements in science and technology, commerce and industry, pomp and power:
“We thus see that the evils under which we have suffered, and are still suffering, are due to no recondite causes, to no laws of inevitable fluctuation of trade, but wholly to our own acts and to those of other civilized nations. Whenever we depart from the great principles of truth and honesty, of equal freedom and justice to all men whether in our relations with other states, or in our dealings with our fellow-men, the evil that we do surely comes back to us, and the suffering and poverty and crime of which we are the direct or indirect causes, help to impoverish ourselves. It is, then, by applying the teachings of a higher morality to our commerce and manufactures, to our laws and customs, and to our dealings with all other nationalities, that we shall find the only effective and permanent remedy for Depression of Trade.”
Mahatma Gandhi pleaded for the Trusteeship concept underscoring what the Gita had said: ‘acquisitive pursuit for property without considering others’ demand is thieving only’ Our Constitution was made to escape what bedeviled the western constitutions because of the segmental view of those who dominated in the framing of such constitutions. It is a disaster to view our constitutional problems through the prism of the Western political thinking and jurisprudence. Our Constitution, when all is said, is sui generis, it is par excellence.
Segment ‘B’. Profile of our Constitutional Socialism
(a) Our Constitution exercise of all Public Power under Restraints
Noting that “the ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we [court] have said about it” (per Frankfurter J quoted with approval in Bengal Immunity AIR1955 SC 661 at 671 para 13 ), it is submitted that our Constitution is the most structured constitution yet framed in the World, as the frontiers and functions of all the organs (including the Superior Judiciary) are established leaving absolutely no exit for self-assumed powers, or motivated derelictions. This is the effect of the conjoint reading of Articles 12, 13, 32, 53, 73, 245,372 and 375. It can be asserted that the ‘New Socio-Economic Order’, which the Preamble and the Parts III and IV of the Constitution envisage, is to be evolved in view of Articles 14, 15, 16, 21,23,24, 38, 39,40, 41, 42, 43, 43A, 46 of our Constitution. And we all know that the Supremacy of the Constitution has been judicially acknowledged.
(b) The Preamble
The Preamble serves the following ends:
(i) The Preamble constitutes the Context for the exercise of powers and the discharge of duties under our Constitution. Glanville Williams, explaining the concept of ‘context’, says:
“It is, nevertheless, difficult to reconcile the literal rule with the “context” rule. We understand the meaning of words from their context, and in ordinary life the context includes not only other words used at the same time but the whole human or social situation in which the words are used.”
Even the vectors in the Collective Consciousness of the Constituent Assembly are relevant factors to be taken into account.
(ii). The Hon’ble Court has held in Keshavananda Bharati v State of Kerala (AIR 1973 SC 1789) that the Preamble to our Constitution contains the BASIC STRUCTURE of our Constitution which could not be amended. On close analysis it can be said, that it does contain ideas which, in synergy, express a vision which can be best considered ‘socialistic’, or to be more accurate and graphic, it powerfully expresses what I call ‘Constitutional Socialism’. The term ‘basic’ means ‘the root’. If the root is destroyed, the whole tree collapses. If the cosmic tree, to which Krishna refers in the Bhagavad-Gita loses its root, everything in the universe would disintegrate in the void. It is agreed that if the ideals set forth in the Preamble are destroyed, our Constitution would be dead, except, perhaps, the structure of power that it sets up for the wielders of public power to ascend the power-structure erected in our political society.
(iii). The Preamble to our Constitution is its prolegomena providing a summary of ideals; it also constitutes the deductions from the whole Constitution as they were perceived when the text of our Constitution had been finalized, and when the makers of our Constitution were wholly clear about the ideals which our Republic was required to pursue to realize them to render our polity democratic. .
(iv) It has been repeated over years that the Preamble and the Directive Principles are not justiciable, whereas the Rights in the Part III of the Constitution are enforceable at law. But it is admitted that they do weave a web of rights and duties, and build a band of expectations, otherwise the Fundamental Rights become empty nothing for the suffering souls of our country. It is worth noting what Hegde J. had said in his Rau Lectures:
“….the view that the principles were not binding if they were not enforceable by law, originated with Austin, and Kelsen propounded a similar view. However, Prof. Goodhart and Roscoe Pound took a different view. According to them, those who are entrusted with certain duties will fulfill them in good faith and according to the expectations of the community.” (Italics supplied)
The approach suggested by Hegde J. is most appropriate.
As the terms used in the Preamble flower into the provisions of the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles, they deserve a close consideration. The prime concepts used in the Preamble are metaphorical, and profoundly suggestive. The Preamble declares with candour our resolution to establish in our country a ‘Sovereign, Socialist, and Secular Democratic Republic’ to secure to all citizens:
“JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and opportunity
And to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;”
The aforesaid objectives are to be achieved for all citizens, who enjoy universal franchise, and had struggled, as a fraternity, for the Independence of this country from foreign servitude. They had inherited common cultural tradition, and had a common dream, and nursed a collective longing so precisely and wistfully set forth in the 1958 movie, “Phir Subaha Hogi,” Mukesh singing with pathos, “woh subaha kabhi to ayegi” (That morning will surely come someday) when our country would have a just society wherein Gandhi’s “Last Person First” would be happy (“Jab ambar jhum ke nachega, Jab dharti naghme gayegi”: when the sky would dance with joy and the earth would sing songs), and when “Jab dukh ke badal pighlenge” (when the clouds of sorrow will melt), and when “Insano ki izzat jab jhoote sikkon me na toli jayegi” (when people’s dignity would not be measured in terms of money).
The Constitution of India neither conceives nor contemplates Class struggle which was the very forte of Marxism, or of the doctrinal western Socialism. India believed in the fraternity of its citizenry, so it gave no weight to what Marx and Engels had said in the Communist Manifesto: “The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”. The ideals conceived under our Constitution were for the weal of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie alike, and also of the rest.
The locus of ‘JUSTICE, social, economic and political’ reveals its apex importance, as in it inheres all that follows thereafter in the Preamble (and without which nothing else can materialize). An unjust society can never create conditions whereunder Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity can be enjoyed by the citizenry of the country. And if these are not there, the society can never be democratic, or secular, and socialist. John Rawls, aptly said “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”
But the concept of ‘Justice’ is being systematically denigrated these days by the neo-liberalists bringing to our mind that crook, Thrasymachus, in Plato’s Republic for whom justice was the interest of the strong only. John Stuart Mill, so dear to the neo-liberals of our day, slighted the standard rightness that Justice erects, and advocated, instead, the doctrine of consequentialism. This denigration of ‘Justice’ reached its climax in the neo-liberal capitalism of which the proponents were Regan, Thatcher, and Pinchet, and also those under the spell of the Chicago School of Economics following the intellectual lead of Hayek and Friedman. What they thought of ‘Social Justice’ is aptly thus summarized:
“Finally, and most controversially at the time, Hayek thought that the concept of ‘social justice’ was the most powerful threat to law ever conceived in recent years. Social justice, says Hayek, ‘attributes the character of justice or injustice to the whole pattern of social life, with all its components rewards and losses, rather than the conduct of its component individuals, and in doing this it inverts the original and authentic sense of liberty, in which it is properly attributed only to individual actions. In other words, the law must treat men anonymously in order to treat them truly equally; if they are not treated individually, serious inequities result.”
Friedrich Hayek, the economist with enormous impact of late, said: “The phrase ‘social justice’ is … simply ‘a semantic fraud from the same stable as People’s Democracy’.” To the same effect is the view of Milton Friedman.
Of all the western jurists, it is John Rawls who, in his A Theory of Justice, approximated the concept of ‘Justice’ as it is articulated in our Constitution. He virtually took his position, which the Bhagavad-Gita adopts, rejecting the utilitarian argument of Mill. Keeping in mind the provisions of our Constitution, the following two principles set forth by Rawls can be considered relevant, though they deserve to be remoulded under our Constitution’s ethos so that they promote its world-view that our Constitution contemplates.
“1. Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.
2. Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both
a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and
b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.”
‘Justice’ is in effect nothing but ‘fair play’. It rejects a resort to deception and camouflage to promote greed in its variegated manifestations. The system is surely unfair if it facilities a segment of the people to scale heights of wealth, but compels others to die as destitutes, or live on mango-kernels, or live life worse than that of the animals, or whose voice is not heard in the din and bustle of the high pressure advertisement and the craft of the murky strategists. Such a system must be undone: whether through creative destruction or destructive creation. It is for ‘We, the People’ alone to decide. Rawls in his Political Liberalism (1993) considered society “as a fair system of co-operation over time, from one generation to the next.” This humble self would make a fleeting reflection on the operative facts to ascertain how just the social system is in this era of ‘stagnant morality but fast changing technology and astronomical digital money. Long years back Reinhold Niebuhr had aptly said: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
Our Constitution effects a powerful synergy through the key revolutionary slogans of infinite potentialities, having rich and great historic associations. This aspect of the matter was noted by Dr Ambedkar who stated with remarkable precision in the Constituent Assembly:
“What we must do is not to be content with mere poetical democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at base of it a social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means principles —liberty equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles – liberty, equality and fraternity – are not to be treated as separate items in trinity. They form a union, a trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality from cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things.”
“Liberty”, as used in the Preamble, can never exist unless the conditions of an egalitarian society are created. Our Constitution does not approve the so-called ‘individualist’ and ‘liberal’ conceptions of liberty, so dear to the proponents and the protégées of the Market Economy of the present-day Economic Globalization. For them ‘Liberty’ is freedom to build their Sone-ki Lanka, or their Castle-in the-Cloud where the breed of oligapolistic plutocrats can have the best of times. I believe, after a lot of study and reflections, that our Constitution approves only a ‘Socialist Perspective’. It is interesting to note that the following observations are broadly right:
“ A socialist perspective, on the other hand, associates liberty with equality in wealth. As such, a socialist connects liberty (i.e. freedom) to the equal distribution of wealth, arguing that liberty without equal ownership amounts to the domination by the wealthy. Thus, freedom and material equality are seen as intrinsically connected. On the other hand, the individualist argues that wealth cannot be evenly distributed without force being used against individuals which reduces individual liberty.”
The concept of Liberty, as once conceived in common law, was widened to promote/protect the economic pursuits in the phase beginning with the Industrial Revolution in the West. “Kantian and Benthamite libertarianism had dominated thought for three-quarters of a century before the new meaning began to be instilled into the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendment. As late as 1876 in Munn v. Illinois (94 U.S. 113) the Supreme Court declined to accede to arguments based on the extended meaning.” It was this early phase of the industrial development that gave rise to the discordance in the competing interests which is now a staggering fact. That development had led, to quote Julius Stone, “to the meager beginnings of social and labour legislation, and on the other hand to the appearance of the great corporate interests who opposed such legislation.”
Equality can be enjoyed only when the State is Egalitarian. The term ‘Egalitarian’ is from French ‘égal’, which means equal. Under our Constitution, this mission, set by the Preamble, is striven to be achieved through the provisions of Articles 14, 15, 16, 21, 38, 39, and 46, besides, through many other provisions which contribute to the realization of the said ideal. ‘Equality’ principle under our Constitution is not what the neo-liberals and their compatriots believe. For them ‘Equality’ is the norm operating only in the segments of the ‘Haves’. The concept of ‘Socialism’ or our ‘Constitutional Socialism’ contemplates an inclusive society wherein humans constitute a fraternity of equals enjoying:
(a) Social equality mandating no discrimination vide Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21; and
(b) Economic equality stressing that the State should so manage its affairs that there be no concentration of wealth (as that sort of concentration is per se unwholesome), and there be fair and just distribution of wealth and opportunities. Such objectives are implicit in the Part II (the Fundamental Rights). Anguished souls can ever meaningfully enjoy the Fundamental Rights. The obligations cast under the Directive Principles are designed to ensure that the fundamental rights dot not become just a ‘metaphysical nonsense’ for many.
Nehru aptly saw the correlation between Democracy and Equality when he stated;
“Democracy means equality, and democracy can only flourish in an equal society. It is obvious enough that the giving of votes to everybody does not result in producing an equal society. In spite of adult suffrage and the like, there is to-day tremendous inequality. Therefore, in order to give democracy a chance, an equal society must be created, and this reasoning leads them to various other ideals and methods. But all these people agree that present day parliaments are highly unsatisfactory.”
In Sawhney v. Union of India AIR 200 SC 498, our Supreme Court as eloquently said (para 133):
“Part-III dealing with ‘Fundamental Rights’ and Part-IV dealing with ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ which represent the core of the Indian Constitutional philosophy envisage the methodology for removal of historic injustice and inequalities – either inherited or artificially created – and social and economic disparity and ultimately for achieving an egalitarian society in terms of the basic structure of our Constitution as spelt out by the preamble.”
Now ‘Fraternity’. Our Constitution contemplates Fraternity. It can not countenance a society under which someone arrogates to himself power to tell the poor and the destitutes what a Governor in the France of Louis XVI had told the starving people at Dijon: ‘The grass has sprouted, go to the fields and browse on it!” Begging was the only option left for common people (the Third Estate). [Worse than this is happening in many parts of our country where the destitutes survive on grass and kernels) Commenting on this situation, Pandit Nehru wrote; ‘How India comes inevitably to our minds when we think of its poverty and misery!” How can there be ‘Fraternity’ amongst the denizens of this Republic, if some Shah Jahans have no compunction in building, on the planet, or in the cyberspace, their Diwan-i-Ams and Diwan-i-Khases announcing shamelessly what the great Mughal had done by getting the following lines scripted at the ceiling of Diwan-i-Khas :
Agar firdaus bar ru-yi zamin ast
Hamin ast, u hamin ast, u hamin ast.
[If there be on this earth an Eden of bliss,
It is this, and this alone];
His Taj Mahals rightly received pungent criticism from the great Hindi poet, Sumitranandan Pant:
Alas! this immortal worship of the dead and gone,
When the world around groaned under distress.
(translated from Hindi by this humble self)
When Shah Jahan was ruling from his silken realm, horrible famines devastated Gujarat in 1630-1632 about which ‘Abdul Hamid Lahori, the official historian of Shah Jahan, writes, “men began to devour each other, and the flesh of a son was preferred to his love.” These things happened when the privileged few had best of all times. [Let the econometrics of our MBAs, and the economists, measure how far towards good or bad we have moved. We have seen in recent years many of our brothers and sisters die of starvation, or live on mango kernels. Many of them become organ farms, and make their kidneys and other organs trading wares. The concept of ‘fraternity’ under our Constitution brings to mind what had been said at the end of the Rg-Veda Samhita:
Samani va akulih samana hrdayani vah
Samanam astu vo mano yatha vah susahasatiyatha vah susahasati.
[“May your opinions be uniform; may your hearts be uniform, may you all be of the same mind; thereby you will acquire the strength of unity.”]
Our Constitution is a highly purposive document. The ideals are set to generate our collective endeavour at the development of human capabilities of our citizenry. Human development becomes the supreme end, which can be achieved by providing good education, proper health care, and conditions without which human life becomes mere wares to be used by others. . Our citizenry should seek light from what was said centuries back in the Katha-Upanishad :
“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”
This idea is so enlightening that W. Somerset Maugham wrote it as an epigraph in his novel The Razor’s Edge. John Philpot Curran had said in 1790: “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” A government as a public purpose vehicle often goes wrong if it is not under the vigilant ken of critical and assertive public opinion. History has taught us this lesson several times: it is for us to decide how many times more we want the lessons to be repeated before our knowledge matures into wisdom, and wisdom gets translated in public action for public weal.
Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic
The concept of ‘Sovereignty’ is no longer what James I thought of it, or
what Hobbes said about it. It is now the protocol of power granted to the organs of
the State by the constitution: any transgression whereof is ultra vires, and any
evasion thereof deserves to be recognized as a public misdemeanour, if not a crime.
This concept of Sovereignty is, as Oppenheim says, “ a matter of internal
constitutional power” in the 20th century:
“Sovereignty was, in other words, primarily a matter of internal constitutional power and authority, conceived as the highest, underived power within the state with exclusive competence therein”
Even the U S Supreme Court has observed in Hamdan’s Case [Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, et al decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29, 2006] that ‘The Court’s conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a “blank check. [Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Kennedy, Justice Souter, and Justice Ginsburg join, concurring.]
36. The concept of ‘Socialism’ is all clear to those who have no ulterior reasons to deface and defile our Constitution. But it is a metaphysical nonsense on the stilts for those who have some other agenda to promote. We know how the greedy detractors and hirelings had called even the ‘Declaration des droits de l’homme ‘a meta-physical work—the ne plus ultra of metaphysics’ whose articles were either unintelligible, or false, or both. It all depends with what conceived notions ‘Socialism’ is considered; more specifically how our ‘Constitutional Socialism’ is considered. Great hazards are posed by the propaganda techniques, more sinister than those to which the Nazi had once resorted to. ‘These techniques were based on resort to simple “symbols and slogans” with “tremendously reiterated impressions” that appeal to fear and other elementary emotions in the manner of commercial advertising, a contemporary review observes. “Goebbels conscripted most of the leading commercial advertising men in Germany for his propaganda ministry,” and boasted that “he would use American advertising methods” to “sell National Socialism” much as business seeks to sell “chocolate, toothpaste, and patent medicines.” These measures were frightfully successful in bringing about the sudden descent from decency to barbarism ….” . The hirelings of the neo-liberalism have done worse wonders by their craft facilitated by our Government suffering from the syndrome of a Sponsored State wherein an Opaque System is built through words and deeds no less deceptive than that used by Mephistopheles to take Dr Faust’s soul in ransom (in Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, or Goethe’s Faust).
Persons far abler than this humble self has explained what ‘Socialism’ means. Nehru was admittedly at the most conscious point of the generation which framed our Constitution. “What did socialism mean to Nehru? In fact, Nehru never defined socialism in terms of a definite scheme or rigid general principles. To him, generally, socialism meant greater equality of opportunity, social justice, more equitable distribution of higher incomes generated through the application of modern science and technology to the processes of production, the end of the acute social and economic disparities generated by feudalism and capitalism, and the application of the scientific approach to the problems of society. Socialism also meant the eventual ending of the acquisitive mentality, the supremacy of the profit motive, and capitalist competitiveness and the promotion instead of the cooperative spirit. It also meant the gradual ending of class distinctions and class domination. Socialism also laid down on the large-scale social ownership or control over the principle means of production but Nehru insisted that, first of all, socialism concerned greater production, for there could be no equal distribution of poverty. In fact, to him socialism was equal to greater production plus equitable distribution.”
But most graphic account of the fundamentals of our Constitutional Socialism is found in some of the celebrated decisions of our Supreme Court: to quote from two widely known judgments:
(a) Excel Wear v. Union of India (AIR 1983 SC 130 (para 33) the Hon’ble Supreme Court explained the concept of Socialism comprehensively. The following propositions emerge from the judicial observations:
(i) Concept of socialism or a socialist state has undergone changes from time to time, from country to country and from thinkers to thinkers. But some basic concept still holds the field.
(ii) The Court quoted Gajendragadkar J., from Akadasi Padhan v. State of Orissa AIR 1963 SC 1047, who drew distinction between the approaches of the socialist and the rationalist. “To the socialist, nationalization or State ownership is a matter of principle and its justification is the general notion of social welfare. To the rationalist, nationalization or State ownership is a matter of expediency dominated by considerations of economic efficiency and increased output of production. This latter view supported nationalization only when it appeared clear that State ownership would be more efficient, more economical and more productive. The former approach was not very much influenced by these considerations, and treated it a matter of principle that all important and nation-building industries should come under State control. The first approach is doctrinaire, while the second is pragmatic. The first proceeds on the general ground that all national wealth and means of producing it should come under national control, whilst the second supports nationalization only on grounds of efficiency and increased output.”
(iii) The difference pointed out between the doctrinaire approach to the problem of socialism and the pragmatic one is very apt and may enable the courts to lean more and more in favour of nationalization and State ownership of an industry after the addition of the word ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble of the Constitution.
(iv) The Court considered the parameters under which private ownership is justified.
But the classic exposition of Socialism under our Constitution was made by Justice Chinnappa Reddy in a Constitution Bench decision in D. S. Nakara v. Union of India
AIR 1983 S.C130: to quote in extensor–
“What does a Socialist Republic imply? Socialism is a much misunderstood word. Values determine contemporary socialism pure and simple. But it is not necessary at this stage to go into all its ramifications. The principal aim of a socialist State is to eliminate inequality in income and status and standards of life. The basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to grave. This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income. This is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism. During the formative years, socialism aims at providing all opportunities for pursuing the educational activity. For want of wherewithal or financial equipment the opportunity to be fully educated shall not be denied. Ordinarily, therefore, a socialist State provides for free education from primary to Ph. D. but the pursuit must be by those who have the necessary intelligent quotient and not as in our society where a brainy young man coming from a poor family will not be able to prosecute the education for want of wherewithal while the ill equipped son or daughter of a well to do father will enter the portals of higher education and contribute to national wastage. After the education is completed, socialism aims at equality in pursuit of excellence in the chosen avocation without let or hindrance of caste, colour, sex or religion and with full opportunity to reach the top not thwarted by any considerations of status, social or otherwise. But even here the less equipped person shall be assured a decent minimum standard of life and exploitation in any form shall be eschewed. There will be equitable distribution of national cake and the worst off shall be treated in such a manner as to push them up the ladder. Then comes the old age in the life of everyone, be he a monarch or a mahatma, a worker or a pariah. The old age overtakes each one, death being the fulfillment of life providing freedom. from bondage. But here socialism aims at providing an economic security to those who have rendered unto society what they were capable of doing when they were fully equipped with their mental and physical prowess. In the fall of life the State shall ensure to the citizens a reasonably decent standard of life, medical aid, freedom from want, freedom from fear and the enjoyable leisure, relieving the boredom and the humility of dependence in old age. This is what Article 41 aims when it enjoins the State to secure public assistance in old age, sickness and disablement. It was such a socialist State which the Preamble directs the centres of power Legislative, Executive and Judiciary to strive to set up. From a wholly feudal exploited slave society to a vibrant, throbbing socialist welfare society is a long march but during this journey to the fulfilment of goal every State action (illegible) taken must be directed, and must be so interpreted, as to take the society one step towards the goal.”
This humble self submits that:
(a) the Hon’ble Court would have done better if it would have examined some key constitutional provisions to hold what constitutes the profile of our Constitutional Socialism; but
(b) the Hon’ble Court touched the heart of the matter when it said: “This is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism.”
And the core expectation of the Father of the Nation was graphically described by Gandhi himself in these words, which can be forgotten only at our peril. He had said before the Second Round Table Conference:
“….I shall work for an India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no high class and low class people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women shall enjoy the same rights as men….”
The concept of ‘Secularism’, which was inserted in the Preamble
to the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment, is noticed here only for two
(a) In S. R. Bommai v. Union of India Ahmadi, J. made out two very relevant points:
(i) Notwithstanding the fact that the words `Socialist’ and `Secular’ were added in the Preamble of the Constitution in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment, the concept of Secularism was very much embedded in our Constitutional philosophy.
(ii) The term `secular’ has advisedly not been defined presumably because it is a very elastic term not capable of a precise definition and perhaps best left undefined. By this amendment what was implicit was made explicit.
This humble self is of the view that the above two reasons are equally relevant in the case of ‘Socialism’ too.
The concept of Democracy, as conceived under our Constitution, is founded on the concept of ‘Social Justice’. ‘Democracy’ under our Constitution has its specific
constitutional content. It differs from what its Neo-liberal re-iterators keep on
Drumming into our ears. The market-ruled economic paradigm of the present-day Economic Globalisation suffers from ‘gross democratic deficit’. And also ‘moral deficit’. Things have so emerged on account of factors thus summarized by Chomsky:
“As Ocampo observes, the neoliberal reforms are antithetical to promotion of democracy. They are not designed to shrink the state, as often asserted, but to strengthen state institutions to serve even more than before the needs of the substantial people. A dominant theme is to restrict the public arena and transfer decisions to the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies. One method is privatization, which removes the public from potential influence on policy. An extreme form of privatization of “services, “a category that encompasses just about anything of public concern: health, education, water and other resources, and so on. Once these are removed from the public arena by “trade in services,” formal democratic practices are largely reduced to a device for periodic mobilization of the public in the service of elite interests, and the “crisis of democracy” is substantially overcome.”
Democracy, can never be imposed from outside , can never be choreographed by the syndicate of the global gladiators in the spheres of trade and manufacture. For them ‘democracy is good thing if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests’
Under our Constitution, ‘Democracy’ is not a political strategy. It is essentially a socio-political mission to be achieved by the political participation by all for the welfare of all. Our Supreme Court has struck the heart of the matter when it said that the word ‘democratic’ under our Constitution envisages not merely political democracy but also social and economic democracy. In the present phase when the corporations virtually rule, and the looters loot adopting the strategy of stealth, the election is becoming a mere device to capture power by manipulating democratic institutions. Public Opinion gets misguided and bewildered by the decorated persuaders engineering their ideas in numerous ways, adroit and deceptive at the same time. ‘America’s leading twentieth-century social philosopher, John Dewey, concluded that “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business” and will remain so as long as power resides in “business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda” Accordingly, reforms will not suffice. Fundamental social change is necessary to bring about meaningful democracy.’ ‘Of equal concern is what globalization does to democracy. Globalization, as it has been advocated, often seems to replace the old dictatorships of national elites with new dictatorships of international finance. Countries are effectively told that if they don’t follow certain conditions, the IMF will refuse to lend them money. They are basically forced to give up a vital part of their sovereignty, to let capricious capital markets subjugate us. including the spectators whose only concerns are short-term rather than the long-term growth of the country and the improvement of living standards, “discipline” them, telling them what they should and should not do.’
Our egalitarian ‘Democracy’ cannot survive in fidelity with our
Constitution if the country itself gets trapped in the capitalist philosophy the core of which had been stated by one of the founding fathers of the U S Constitution, James Madison. He said that Power should be in the hands of “the wealth of the nation…the more capable set of men.” ‘Warning his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention of the perils of democracy, Madison asks them to consider what would happen in England “if elections were open to all classes of people.” The population would then use its voting rights to distribute land more equitably.” Our Constitution rejects such unjust parochial and anachronistic idea of the syndicate of the capitalists.
Our Constitution rejects the idea of the “trickle-down theory,” as its usefulness is not proved despite the claim by John F. Kennedy’s that “a rising tide floats all boats”. This plea, (so dear to the disciples of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the believers in Reaganomics or supply-side economics), deserves to be rejected (as it is, to borrow the expression of John Kenneth Galbraith, just a “horse and sparrow theory”: if you feed enough oats to the horse, some will pass through to feed the sparrows. The State, which we have organized under our Constitution to promote our ‘Constitutional Socialism’, is not a corporation. It is distressing to see that these days it is getting adroitly turned into a Corporation with all the ills of modern corporations. The plight is well portrayed by Galbraith, which is this summarized by Peter Watson:
“One important result of this, says Galbraith, is that the shareholders nowadays have only nominal control over the company that, in theory, they own, and this has significant psychological consequences for democracy. Second, mature companies, mass-producing expensive and complex products, in fact have very little interest in risk or competition. On the contrary, they require political and economic stability so that demand and growth in demand, can (within certain limits) be predicted. The most important effect of this, Galbraith argued, is that mature corporations actually prefer planning in an economy. In traditional conservatism, planning smacks of socialism, Marxism, and worse, but in the modern world mature corporations, who operate in an oligopolistic situation, which to Galbraith is but a modified monopoly, cannot do without it.” “Everything else in the new industrial state, says Galbraith, stems from these two facts. Demand is regulated, as Keynes showed, partly by the fiscal policy of governments-which presupposes a symbiotic relationship between the state and the corporation-and by devices such as advertising (which, Galbraith believes, has had an incalculably ‘dire’ effect on the truthfulness of modern society, to the point where we no longer notice how routinely dishonest we are). And additional characteristic of modern industrial society, Galbraith says, is that more and more important decisions depend on information possessed by more than one individual. Technology has a great deal to do with this. One consequence is new kind of specialism: people who have no special skills in the traditional sense but instead have a new skill-knowing how to evaluate in formation.”
Our Constitution wants the State to work for people’s welfare. It rejects the duplicity of the neo-capitalism which wants the Government to roll back from people’s welfare activities, but requires it to keep a symbiotic relationship between the state and the corporations. This strategy, which made the government an instrument for the market, had been advocated by Bentham, James Mill, John Stuart Mill and T.H. Green in the 19th century; and it is now the nostrum prescribed by the neo-liberals. Their laissez-faire economics was basically elitist, and undemocratic. The tiny creative (?) minority of the corporate oligarchy, and the syndicates of the nether-world power-wielding vested interests, are asserting shamelessly their power to make the political government dance to their tune. Our Constitution does not permit such subversion. But the point is what is to be done to preserve, protect and uphold it. We cannot forget what Whittier said in “Maud Muller”:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!
‘Property’ under our Constitutional Socialism
At their heart, the neo-liberals believe what their eminent predecessor James Mill had said about Socialistic ideas of Owen and Hodgskin:
‘Their notions of property look ugly; . . . they seem to think that it should not exist, and that the existence of it is an evil to them. Rascals, I have no doubt, are at work among them. . . . The fools, not to see that what they madly desire would be such a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring upon them.
Bertrand Russell aptly says that this “letter, written in 1831, may be taken as the beginning of the long war between Capitalism and Socialism. In a later letter, James Mill attributes the doctrine to the ‘mad nonsense’ of Hodgskin, and adds: ‘These opinions if they were to spread, would be the subversion of civilized society; worse than the overwhelming deluge of Huns and Tartars.’” The doctrine of Free Competition was developed under the impact of Darwinism, and unbridled individualism. Marxism was an answer to such idiotic and greedy notions as to property. Pandit Nehru, who was a dynamic light in our Constituent Assembly, describes the Marxist approach in words which cannot be bettered:
“Marx also looked upon history as a record of struggles between different classes. “ The history of all human society, past and present, has been the history of class struggles.” The class which controls the means of production is dominant. It exploits the labour of other classes and profits by it. Those who labour do not get the full value of their labour. They just get a part of it for bare necessaries, the rest, the surplus, goes to the exploiting class. So the exploiting class gets wealthier from this surplus value. The State and the government are controlled by this class which controls production, and the first object of the State thus becomes one of protecting this governing class. “The State is an executive committee for managing the affairs of the governing class as a whole”, says Marx. Laws are made for this purpose, and people are led to believe by means of education, religion, and other methods, that the dominance of this class is just and natural. Every attempt is made to cover the class character of the government and the laws by these methods, so that the other classes that are being exploited may not find out the true state of affairs, and thus get dissatisfied. If any person does get dissatisfied and challenges this system, he is called an enemy of society and morality, and a subverter of old-established customs, and is crushed by the State.”
The Right to Property, as originally granted under Art 31 of the Constitution, was illustrated certain lapses to which our Constituent Assembly had succumbed. It was modeled on Articles 229 and 300 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which had an obvious interest in protecting the property rights of the Zamindars and the other acquires of wealth. As the First and the Second Estates never bothered about the Third Estate in the pre-revolutionary France, the framers of the Government of India Act, 1935 hardly had any sympathy and empathy for the common millions, the Third Estate of India. The folly was realized soon, and by several Constitutional Amendments, much was done to make the institution of Property socially accountable for public welfare. The crescendo of the corrective pursuit was reached when Art 31 was done away with by Constitution (44th Amendment), 1978, w.e.f. 20-6-9
It is to be noted that during the debate on the 44th Amendment Bill which became the 42nd Constitutional Bill, the Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi explained that the insertion of ‘Socialist’ by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment was not to bring about or authorize ‘Collectivism’ or “State Socialism”, but only for granting Equal Opportunity, or Socio-Economic Reforms.
The Art. 300A of our Constitution, inserted by the Constitution (44th Amendment ) Act, 1978, now puts the Right to Property in a new light in tune with the egalitarian social philosophy so dear to our Constitution-makers. Right to Property ceased to be Fundamental Right, is not a part of the basic structure of the Constitution [M.K. Kachar v. State of Gujarat JT (1994) 4 SC 473]. 61. It requires some explanation when an assertion is made that now the Right to Property is a human right, and also a constitutional right. Property is surely a human right, as if one has no property to survive with dignity, one tends to become the property of others. But this does not mean that the vast millions be pauperized and uprooted to become commodities for others to use, or trade. Our Constitution can never countenance such servitude, such exploitation. The Article 300A of our Constitution says:
“No person shall be deprived of his right to property save by he authority of law.”
The grammar and the discipline of the acquisition and distribution of wealth is prescribed in Art 39(b), and (c) of our Constitution, being a provision in Part IV, being the Directive Principles of State Policy. Our Supreme Court had stated in Bandhua Mukti Morcha, ‘that the right to live with human dignity enshrined in Art 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles.’ This illustrates a judicially perceived synergy between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy.
During the Ancien Régime (before the French Revolution) the estates of the realm were the nobility, the clergy, and the commoners , the first two estates were extractive and exploitative, and cornered all the resources leaving the third estate to maintain them and the King from whatever they could eke out in their struggle for existence. The neo-liberals want to build up a similar stratified society. Wiser as they are by learning from the past, they subjugate the political realm by ensuring the emergence of an opaque system under which the suffering millions can perish, to-day or to-morrow, unnoticed by all. Before the French Revolution, the Third Estate wanted to be treated only as humans . Now under the new Economic Globalization the denizens of the Third Estate are spread over the whole world foreboding a coming cataclysm. I feel that our endeavour to work to promote our Constitutional Socialism would stand us in good stead through these dark times.
An overview of the history of the world would show some remarkable turning points on certain fundamental aspects of the Right to Property:
(i) In the State of Nature, at the dawn of history, Property was held in common by all, and for all. Later the peace of enjoyment was disturbed by the emergence an exploitative minority through devious stratagems.
(ii) In the period dating back to 5000 years, Krishna asserted against the greedy acquisition of property by stressing that what is not needed by individuals for legitimate needs for existence must go the State for the welfare of humanity. Thus he justified the balancing of public and private interests under the aspects of Justice. Property acquired for selfishness alone was THEFT.
(iii) Jesus stood against the exploitation by the Herodian establishment, and the extractive investment by the money-changers of Jerusalem. Jesus told his disciplines that one could not serve God and Mammon at the same time. He carried on the tradition of renunciation which had got wide currency because of Buddha’s teachings to the same effect.
(iv) The Christian Church went against Jesus by acquiring wealth and power; and it established hegemony for sometime both in matters spiritual and temporal. With the rise of the State power, the Church yielded place to what can be called State capitalism, with the kings and emperors asserting that the sovereign was the supreme master of the realm. The days of Jesus had gone: these were the days about which Shakespeare said in his Measure for Measure: ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall’.
(v) With the emergence of mercantilist capitalism, a group of imperialists established exploitative capitalism.
(vi) With the development of the Industrial Revolution, and the classical imperialism, capitalism acquired power and majesty unknown thereto in history. Mammon was now becoming the Leviathan.
(vii) Karl Marx analyzed how excoriating the morbid capitalist system had become, and how it was destined to be doomed someday under the inexorable dialectics of history. For him Property, as acquired under the capitalist mode, was THEFT. He showed a remarkable insight into the mode of production, and how it conditioned human psyche which determined the juridical, political, economic and cultural ideas.
(viii) Gandhi considered, as Krishna had done, Property as a matter of trust for the weal of people.
(ix) Under our Constitution there is a balance struck between the private and public interests, but dominance is granted to the aspect of public weal. Our Constitution permits neither State capitalism nor the supremacy of the Market. The State has a dominant role in the socio-economic engineering as it represents ‘the Janta Janardan’ (‘We, the People’). The value of the right equilibrium and balance had been taught to our countrymen by the Bhagavad-Gita itself about 5000 years back (Chap. VI. 16).
(x) Now has emerged under the present-day ethos of market-ruled economic globalization, whose sole vector is what they call neo-liberalism, the Market as the new ruthless Leviathan which works through a well-crafted structure of deception by turning the State into a Sponsored State, yet paying lip service to Democracy. It is alarming to see around the shocking spectacle of fast advancing corporatocracy trying to shred off democracy with ruthless contempt but always through stealth and under shrouds.
THE DIMENSIONS OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL SOCIALISM
I articulate and articulate some important dimensions of our ‘constitutional socialism’. I would summarize them with utmost brevity thus:
[A] Philosophical dimension:
1. Driving force in human history, according to Hegel, is ‘Spirit’; but it is ‘Matter’ according to Karl Marx, but for Marx ‘it is a matter …, not the wholly dehumanized matter of the atomists, hence, in effect, it turns out ‘ really man’s relation to matter, of which the most important part is his mode of production: in short economics. This is the philosophical foundation of the Hegelian dialectics utilized by Marx to interpret history. We have not shared this view. Our spiritual vision of the universe is not simplistic Besides, we believe in the welfare of all. Our history has developed in a trajectory much different from the West’s. Our Constitution commits our polity to an egalitarian vision for everyone’s welfare: it, thus, reflects our philosophical tradition.
2. Hegel, Darwin and Marx believed in the inevitability of progress as universal law, which made them impervious to ethical considerations. The norms set forth in the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles stress on the karma and kartavya both towards the individuals and the State. This philosophical dimension of our ‘constitutional socialism’ would again come up for reflections in Chapter 24.
[B] Political Dimension
3. Our Constitution reflects the ethos of our Struggle for Freedom in which our nation had participated as a whole: the sacrifice made by the poor was surely more than that of others who had reasons to calculate their profits. Democracy is not just a system to set up a political structure which can be allowed to be captured by vested interests through art or craft; it is, in fact, a system to provide a mechanism to realize the welfare of all, without riding roughshod over the fair and legitimate interests of individuals whatever be the segments to which they belong.
4. The Political Realm is not to be made subservient to the Economic Realm, where the Rule of Corporations and the Market (Pax Mercatus) prevails. The State, under our Constitution, cannot roll back its activities as that would be a gross constitutional dereliction. Even the policy changes must conform to the constitutional policies, and our Constitution’s principles and provisions
5. There must not be an opaque system, as darkness is never conducive to promote the ideas and the ideals of our Preamble, the Fundamental Right, and the Directive Principles of our Constitution.
6. Our ‘Constitutional Socialism’ is founded on the fundamental principle of our Constitution’s supremacy, and the inevitable subservience of all the organs of the State to the Constitution. As I have already said, this supremacy operates both in the domestic sphere, and at international plane.
[C] Social Dimension
7. Our Constitution is committed to bring about a social revolution to change the unjust stratification of our society which trapped us over the centuries, but this objective cannot be realized if wealth and power get polarized in our country.
8. It is this over-arching egalitarian constitutional vision which conditions the content of such seminal concepts as ‘liberty, ‘equality’, ‘fraternity’, ‘dignity’, ‘unity’….. ‘Liberty’ cannot be reduced to a mere license to exploit and loot; and ‘equality’ can not exist in grossly unfair and unequal society. ‘Fraternity’ and ‘dignity’ cannot be achieved in plutocratic and oligarchic tyrannies of the vested interests
9. ‘Social Justice’ is the very purpose of our polity, and the very heart of our Constitution and this requires creation of conditions for all so that quality of life improves.
[D] Economic Dimension
10. Our constitutional socialism contemplates no class struggle: it believes in the welfare of all.
11. Our constitutional socialism does not permit greedy acquisitiveness of capitalism, and believes in an equitable distribution of social resources so that even the so-called ‘last man’ is not without the basic amenities for existence, and is not excluded from the conditions needed for dignity, and for the fruition of his natural faculties.
12. The Government is a trustee to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order “in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all institutions of national life”.
13. The State must ensure that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment.
14. The natural resources should be managed wholly with egalitarian ideas to the exclusion of the gross commercial motives of the market economy.
15. The standard for decision-making in our public spheres should be judged on the talisman given by Mahatma Gandhi , so that justice is done even to our ‘last man’.
16. The State must ensure that the integrity of our society is not subverted by consumerism, and the deceit of the vested interests. The State must preserve our value system, education and health so that they are not degraded, polluted, or subverted under this neo-liberal craze generated by the high pressure advertisement.
17. To ensure that we can build our socialist society under the aspect of justice, we must work for peace so that our limited resources are not wasted for the benefit of capitalists, who need wars to sell their armaments, and an opaque rogue system of ethereal finance; to amass extractively acquired wealth in dark corners away from people’s gaze, to be laundered back as and when considered expedient.
18. Consumerism is sin till the last man receives just treatment, and is well provided for to live as a human being. Human beings must not be treated as commodities for trade.
19. As planning and market help economic management, these tools be used, but under the critical gaze and supervision of the State ensuring public accountability. The real questions pertain to what sort of Market, and what sort of State (or government) we must have.
20. The State preserves the sovereign space of socio-economic management free from the imperialistic, crypto-imperialistic, and the neo-liberal gladiators and intruders.
21. The government, which is no more than people’s agent, must be under effective popular control and accountability. There must be a system to enforce continuous accountability of all the organs of the State to our people.
HOPE: it carries the ship of democracy through storms
Concluding his Modern Democracies (Vol. II p. 670 ) Lord Bryce perceptively observed :
“Hope, often disappointed but always renewed, is the anchor by which the ship that carries democracy and its fortunes will have to ride out this latest storm as it has ridden out many storms before.”
He was right. Our socialist vision which we have expressed in our Constitution is yet to be realized. We have seen that the mission is being betrayed even by those whose duty it is to realize it. The common people of our country seem to work day and night on a sort of Penelope’s web. Like her we weave our dreams and expectations, but like her too we have to unpick them. But this in itself is good that we still have our Constitution as a loom on which to set our warp to weave new patterns in new colours. Friedrich Nietzsche, in his Human, All Too Human, had said about Hope:
“Hope…. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good–it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man’s torment.”
But our Bhagavad-Gita has made us keep Hope alive: are not incorrigible optimists? How can we ever forget the assurance that the Koran and the Gita gives, which got most mellifluous expression from Faiz:
Jab zulm-o-sitam ke kohe-garaa
rui ki tarah ud jaayenge.
[when the fog and mist of injustice,
will go into wind tossing to wither
like the shreds of cotton wool]
This humble self concludes this exposition by this simple sentence: Our Constitution’s Socialism is an expanded metaphor, with an activist content, of Justice which exfoliates itself in the Preamble to the Constitution, and in the harmony and synergy of the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles. It is appropriate to end this chapter with a quotation from the preface of his book Judicial Role in Globalised Economy:
‘“Throughout the book I have tried to tread on the straight-line which Ernest Barker described to Albert Einstein: “If at your command, the straight lines have been banished from the universe, there is yet one straight line that will always remain –the straight line of right and justice.” In 1915 Einstein wrote to Lorentz in Holland ‘those men always need some idiotic fiction in the name of which they can face one another. Once it was religion, now it is the State.” On scanning the present realities, shouldn’t we say :”Once it was religion, then it was the State, now it is the Market, Pax Mercatus”’
‘An unjust society is a conspiracy against time, which always ends in its unlamented doom,.
In this Chapter this humble self has said what should be obvious to our countrymen: that our Constitution expresses quintessentially through its provisions the immanent vision at egalitarian justice which has had an abiding presence in our national psyche. This vision, and our quest for it, derive sustenance from our oriental culture, be that as expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Koran, and other synergetic and synchronistic ideas for human weal. What it aims at is ultimately not different from what many western thinkers have said . What distinguishes our Constitution is the Middle Path that it follows ensuring that injustice never tramples any segment of people; and greed does not become the prime mover. Social Justice is the supreme catalytic agent: it is the very heart of Gandhi’s talisman to which a reference has already been made.