India is a socialist republic according to the preamble of the Constitution of India. Socialist ideas played an important part in the freedom movement of India. The poorest and lowest classes had been servile to the landlords and kings long before the British came and they were encouraged by socialist ideas to hope for a better future. India has seen some great leaders who have been socialist in the truest meaning of the word by putting the welfare of the common people before everything else. Let’s take a look at 7 such leaders of the people.
Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad was the first Chief Minister of Kerala, the first non INC Chief Minister in India and the leader of the first democratically elected communist government in India. He led to land and education reforms in Kerala and turned the Communist Party of India (Marxist) into a major political force. His reforms transformed Kerala and even today it continues to be the state with the highest literacy rate in the country.
Vinoba Bhave was a spiritual leader and a freedom fighter who advocated non violence and socialist ideas of basic human rights. He is best known for the Bhoodan Movement, which encouraged landlords to willingly give away a percentage of their land to the poor farmers. It was a voluntary land reform movement that upheld the highest socialist ideals. He was one of the biggest proponents of socialism in India.
Jayaprakash Narayan was known as Lok Nayak or The People’s Hero. He got introduced to socialism while studying in America where he had to work several jobs to support his education and he saw what the working class faced on a daily basis. He was convinced that Socialist Marxism was the only way to alleviate the suffering of the masses. He came into prominence for opposing Indira Gandhi’s almost dictatorial rule and called for Sampoorna Kranti or Total Revolution.
Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and was left with the difficult task of creating a united nation from the mess left behind by the British. He encouraged socialist policies during his terms at the office. Even before independence he brought socialist ideas to the Indian National Congress and made sure that the preamble of the Constitution of India called India a socialist state. He formed the planning commission of India and led to many socialist reforms in the early years of this nation.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is one of the biggest socialist leaders of Indian history. He did more to uplift the poor and untouchables than any other man in India. He was against the Hindu caste system and became a Buddhist. He was the main architect of the Constitution of India and he tried his best to bring about a social revolution and end social discrimination. Today you can see his statues in almost all villages and he’s considered as a messiah by the poor and low castes. Some Buddhists believe that he was a Bodhisattva although he never claimed this himself.
The reason why Subhash Chandra Bose is on the top of this list is because he was a truly selfless man who put his country and the people of his country before everything else. He is the idol of every patriot and his slogan of “You give me blood, I’ll give you freedom” struck at the heart of countless Indians and spurred them to fight for their freedom. Although he is mostly remembered for his armed struggle against the British rule, he was also a deeply spiritual man who was inspired by the fresh interpretation of the Vedic scriptures by Swami Vivekananda and was deeply socialist in his political ideology.