“Glasnost” and “Perestroika” – Essay

“Glasnost” and “Perestroika” are two words popularized by the Ex-president Gorbachev of Soviet Russia. They are known in all over world over. President Gorbachev’s book perestroika has clearly defined these words and has established the close inter-connected that exists between them. They reflect the ex-soviet president’s thinking over the problems faced not only by soviet Russia, but by the communist world in general, and the way in which the communist society should be restructured in the context of changed world conditions.

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‘Glasnost’ means openness; it means taking democracy to the grass roots, the allowing of free and open discussion of the problems that face communist society. It also implies that soviet society shall no longer be a closed society but will be thrown open to the soviet people to new ideas, new modes of thought, and new patterns of culture. It has made the people think, and thinking leads to re-construction and change of attitudes. Cultural influences have already flown in resulting in greater freedom in matters of sex and the demand for greater participation in the management of the affairs of the nation.

It means that the people are demanding democracy, that power should be shared at the grassroots, and more active participation of the people in the government of their country. Thus it implies a total shift from the policies followed by Marshall Stalin and his successors. As a result, to-day there is practically no iron-curtain, and there is greater interaction of the Soviet people with the rest of the world. Soviet society is no longer a closed society and the flow of new ideas has created turmoil in the communist world and there is an ever-increasing democratic freedom.


‘Perestroika’ means re-thinking and re-structuring of the social, cultural and political systems of the communist world. The term is thus closely allied to “Glasnost” for it includes taking into account the inflow of influences from the west which result in re-awakening and re-thinking. It also implies re-structuring of the soviet society in keeping with the turmoil caused by such new influences and new ideas. It implies economic liberalization, economic freedom, and economic co-operation with other nations of the world. It also implies greater freedom to the people, the taking of democracy to the grassroots, for a society cannot be rebuilt without the active participation of the people.

The two terms ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ are closely related and the one cannot possibly be acted upon, without taking into account the other. In the absence of glasnost, there can be no democracy and hence no real participation of the people in the people in government or policy-making. Glasnost is a vehicle for interaction between the leaders and the people and vice versa, making it possible to give the people the right orientation, to rouse them to intelligent action to achieve the accepted as national programmed. Thus glasnost ensures the participation of the masses in political activity, for it enables them to exercise control, gives them access to adequate information and helps them in freely choosing the right solutions. ‘Glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ have together furthered the foreign policy of the U.S.S.R., integrated the efforts of world communists and directed them towards solving the most acute and painful problems of humanity.

These two concepts were reflected both in the domestic and foreign policies of the young and dynamic president Gorbachev of Soviet Russia. As far as foreign policy is concerned, he made an impressive and unprecedented peace offensive. He unilaterally cut short the defense budget of his country and declared a massive reduction in the deployment of its armed forced and the production of conventional weapons. He succeeded in arriving at an agreement with the U.S.A. on a drastic reduction of missiles with nuclear war heads stationed in Europe. The new spirit of friendship and co-operation thus generated made President Reagan’s star-war programming obsolete and out-dated. Similarly he visited china, and there was a thaw in Sino-Soviet relations. As a result, drastic reduction in the number of soviet troops massed on its long border with china became possible. This re-thinking augured well for the future of mankind.

The two concepts of “re-structuring” and “openness” were also reflected in the domestic policies of President Gorbachev. For the first time elections were held in Soviet Union on multi-party basis. Greater freedoms, including freedom to criticize the government, thus become possible for the soviet people after a lapse of centuries. The gentle breeze of freedom blew over that country. In the cultural sphere, fashion shows were permitted and recently Miss Russia was elected for the first time. Travel to the west or from the west became much easier. Western movies were staged and books from the west were also allowed. Thus the traditional ‘iron-curtain’ became a thing of the past.


In short, ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ embody the most revolutionary concepts of modern time. They have brought the east and the west closer together, caused a restructuring of the communist society, and resulted in re-thinking the entire world over. But this policy of liberalization has also resulted in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The U.S.A. is now the only super-power left in the world .It has meant the emergence of a unipolar world, and the end of cold war.

It must be realized that there is urgent need of infrastructural reforms to clear all the hurdles in the way of the development of infrastructure.

6. Improvement in health and literacy among the masses must be emphasized upon. One out of every three Indian is poor, undernourished, illiterate and of poor health. In this connection reduction in growth rate of population is vital. Fall in population growth is linked with health and literacy which are required to be improved on priority basis.

7. In the opinion of economists political consensus is the biggest challenge in carrying out the second generation reforms. Populist policies dominate political thinking and political will for basic reforms is absolutely wanting. The reformers have to directly address issues like poverty rather than expect people to wait for a trickle down which may never come. The over-all focus of reforms has to involve all sections of the economy only then will the consensus emerge which shall not be dislodged.


According to the evaluation of economic reforms during the first decade in 1991-2000 by reserve bank of India economic reforms have helped accelerate the healthy economic growth of 1980’s in a more sustainable manner. The most critical issue having a bearing upon the reform process has to cope with the deceleration of agriculture and industry. Agric ultureuituralultural performance declined sharply due to diminished public investment and inadequate diversification. Industry has given a favorable response as a result of liberalization measures such as de-licensing, de-reservation opening of foreign direct investment and the lowering of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Industry in India has become much more competitive domestically as well as globally. But industrial development has to be enhanced by stepping up the pace of intuitional reforms.

The central message of RBI’s currency and finance report is that economic reforms are a must for the economy to shift to higher growth pattern and that reforms need to be strengthened further to enable India to catch up with those middle income emerging economies which were similarly placed at the time of independence.

Economic reforms have brought about a widening disparity among the states despite a national policy of liberalization. If globalization has widened the gulf between developing and developed countries liberalization has resulted in greater degree of scenes in the pattern of development leading to marginalization of some states in the overall dispensation. Reasons for the economic disparity may be enumerated as gap in education, health care and infrastructure. States which had a fairly well developed industrial base have been able to attract new investments both domestic and foreign. Reasons for poor growth in some states is a combination of factors like bloated public administration, a large appropriation of public resources for salaries and non-development expenditure including subsidies and loss making state enterprises. For success of the economic reforms government expenditure must be brought down. Further opening the economy to foreign direct investment is crucial for India to sustain the high rate of economic growth. And finally government’s resolve on economic reforms is the most important factor. India’s Ex-Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had asserted that there would be no going back on economic reforms as India should effectively responded to changes in the global economic environment to defend its interests.

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