The Growth of Political Society in India: The Seven Political Legacies

  • A. H. Somjee


In the growth of a country’s political society, the political conduct of its principal leaders, together with the mix of normative and pragmatic considerations within it, play an important part. Their political conduct, with a variety of emphasis and balance between, what is desirable and what is possible, establishes matrices within which, by way of emulation, the political behaviour of their followers and the people in general is shaped. Barring notable exceptions, and such exceptions become the starting point of critical or dissenting movements, the individuals within any political society take their cue from or follow the example of their leaders.


Human Dignity Liberal Democracy Political Authority Democratic Process Normative Commitment 
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  1. 1.
    Gandhi had said, “I feel that our progress towards the goal will be in exact proportion to the purity of means.” Quoted by Raghavan N. Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) p. 362. But once the use of proper means was established, Gandhi was very determined on the type of social and political consequences he wanted from the use of such means.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. K. Gandhi, Satyagraha (Allahabad: All India Congress Committee, 1935) p. 37.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Erik Erikson, Gandhi’ Truth: On the Origins of Militant Non-Violence (London: Faber & Faber, 1970).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Gandhi wrote in 1920, “I have found Englishmen amenable to reason and persuasion, and as they always wish to appear just, it is easier to shame them than others in doing the right thing.” Quoted by B. R. Nanda, Mahatma Gandhi: A Biography (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958) p. 516. The technique which he developed against the British did not work against the Portuguese on the question of Goa where unarmed freedom fighters used to be mowed down by Portugese machineguns. In this connection Morarji Desai is reported to have said that it was Gandhi’ genius to have discovered what would work against the British: non-violence and moral embarrassment.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See in this connection, “Mahatma Gandhi and Civil Disobedience” by Paul F. Power in Meaning of Gandhi, ed. Paul F. Power (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (London: Meridian Books, 1946) p. 11.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Michael Brecher, Nehru: A Political Biography (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962) p. 233.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    See in this connection M. N. Das, The Political Philosophy of Jawaharlal Nehru (New York: John Day, 1961).Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    Geoffrey Tyson has put this appropriately: “he knew that the vast amorphous mass which is India could only be governed and held together by a series of compromises; a concession here, a special exception there”. Nehru: The Years of Power (London: Pall Mall Press, 1966) p. 188.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    One of the finest expressions of this view came from the Balwatray Mehta Committee Report on democratic decentralisation. In that Nehru was quoted as follows: “to build the community and the individual and to make the latter the builder of his own village centres and of India in a larger sense of the term”. Quoted by Balwatray Mehta Committee Report: Report of the Team for the Study of Community Projects and National Extension Service (New Delhi, 1957) p. 3.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    See in this connection D. V. Tahmankar, Sardar Patel (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1970).Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    A. R. H. Copley, The Political Career of C. Rajagopalachari: A Moralist in Politics (Delhi: Macmillan, 1978) p. 4.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Quoted by R. C. Gupta, Lalbahadur Shastri: The Man and His Ideas (Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1966) pp. 51–2.Google Scholar
  14. 25.
    Socialism, Sarvodaya and Democracy: Selected Works of Jayaprakash Narayan, ed. Bimla Prasad (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1964) p. ix.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    Ajit Bhattacharjea, Jayaprakash Narayan: A Political Biography (Delhi: Vikas, 1975) p. vii.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© A. H. Somjee 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. Somjee
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of International DevelopmentSimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Queen Elizabeth HouseOxfordUK

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