A short note on socialist thinking of Ram Manohar Lohia

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia was born at Akbarpur in U.P. on March 23, 1910 and died on October 12, 1967. He received his higher education at the Benares Hindu University and in Calcutta. He obtained his Ph.D degree in economics in 1932 from Berlin University. Upon his return to India in 1933 he joined the freedom movement at a young age. He was associated with the Congress Socialist Party in the Congress in I934. With the formation of the P.S.P. in 1952, he was with it for a few years. Later on when the Samyukta Socialist Party came into existence, he joined it. He died in 1967.

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Lohia was a great orator. He was also a prolific writer. Some of his important works were “Aspects of Socialist Policy” (1952), Marx, Gandhi and Socialism (1962), The Caste System (1964), Fragments of World Mind (1966), etc. Besides, he had wide interest in history, philoso­phy, literature and painting, etc , as well.

Socialist Thinking of Ram Manohar Lohia :

According to Lohia, socialism in India began with Gandhiji’s thought and action. He was greatly influenced by Gandhiji’s ideals, values and methods. He held Gandhiji’s “Satyagraha” and “non-co-operation” as original creation of 20th century. Lohia wanted the doctrine of socialism to be enriched by Gandhism. Socialism not only meant removal of poverty and inequality but also character-building and reform of the individual. It thus emphasizes upon spiritualism. But spiritualism alone is not socialism. Socialism implies a synthesis between spiritualism and materialism, social reform and individual reform.


Lohia saw no opposition between the social and the individual, as the individual is both an end and a means.

Lohia was aware of the limitations of Gandhism. But he held Gandhism to be an open doctrine. He believed that a rationalistic application of Gandhian propositions will strengthen the cause of Indian socialism. He tried to integrate the Gandhian technique of Satyagraha and the socialist principle of class struggle.

He also differentiated “Sarvodaya” from socialism. It as a distortion of socialism, as he did not contain the method of social change. He held Sarvodaya as the greatest fraud of the 20th century. He was also a critic of the Bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave, as it did not prescribe and comprehensive formula to solve the land problem.

Lohia also opposed communism. It was associated with perversions and distortions. Communism favoured violence, centralization, loss of human freedom. He agreed with Marxism in so far as it regarded class struggle as the dynamics of social change. But he disagreed with the aims and methods of communism and so considered it to be unsuitable for India.


Lohia was a critic of socialism as enunciated by Nehru. It started from around 1928. Nehru had considered that a sort of leftist nationalism was necessary for an effective struggle for independence. Till the death of Gandhiji, Lohia hoped that there would be a socialist transformation of the Congress. But he was soon disillusioned. He, therefore, wanted to build a progressive and dynamic alternative which could bring about to build a progressive and dynamic alternative which could bring about a radical transformation in the country. Lohia held that the greatest flaw of Nehru’s socialism lay in this fact. Its source of inspiration did not lie in the removal of poverty and inequality through social reform or socialization of wealth’s.

Thus Lohia held that in post-independence India socialism was sponsored by the State and come to be identified with industrialization and modernization. Even if the new industries are being owned by the State, some people continue to get special privileges. In fact, it contains the evils of both capitalism and socialism. True socialization, implies socialization of wealth. Mere State takeover of industries did not imply this. He also emphasized upon the socio-cultural features of socialism. Hence although nationalization could usher in socialism in the Soviet Union, India was burdened with evils emanating from differences in caste, creed, religion, language etc. So unless these barriers were removed, economic, equality could not be attained. Hence what was necessary was to remove these evils from the Indian society before socialism could be established.

According to Lohia, the root cause of all socio-economic evils is the attachment for wealth and property. The lust for wealth was quite profound in India. Lohia’s socialist tents emphasize both on material and spiritual aspects of life. As long as property remains, personal attachment for property could not be removed. Hence, although a person could own property for personal sue, all wealth and means of production in industry and agriculture should be nationalized.

He rightly held “we have to enhance wealth, expand agriculture, increase factories but we should think in terms of increasing collective wealth; if we try to end the love for private property, we might be able to establish a new-socialism in India.”

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