The features of Nehruvian Socialism are :
1. Democratic Socialism :
Nehru was brought up and received, his schooling under democratic traditions. He was a champion of freedom. Not only he took a leading part in Indian freedom struggle, he was an opponent of colonialism. Nehru’s love of individual liberty was a part of his western heritage. He detested Nazism and Fascism, because they indulged in physical acts of aggression, brutality and vulgarity. Similarly, the dictatorial ways of the communists, their aggressive methods and into clearance of any opposition were resented by him. Hence he want for democratic socialism, which will be based on political liberty, equality and tolerance. Under democratic socialism we could maintain individual freedom and initiative with centralized-social control and planning of the economic life of the people.
2. Peaceful Methods :
As a corollary to democracy, Nehru believed in peaceful methods. The methods of democracy are discussion, argument and persuasion. He rejected the idea of class war. Peaceful methods were the only methods to initiate any change, be it economic or otherwise. Nehru deplored violence and demonstration. He was in favour of consent and compromise and not conflict. In this respect Nehru’s socialism differed from totalitarian socialism.
3. Mixed Economy :
Nehru was fully aware of the inherent defects of capitalism— its acquisitiveness, rapaciousness and violence. He was also against the regimentation and intolerance of totalitarian socialism. Hence he wanted to follow a middle path. He evolved a system of mixed economy as an alternative to both the rival systems, drawing the positive aspects of each and rejecting their negative aspects. It would be a combination of free private enterprise and state controlled economy.
The Industrial Policy of 1948 spelt the nature of role of the private sector. But industrialization through the private sector might lead to concentration of wealth and economic power. Besides, private enterprise may not flow into certain sectors. Hence Nehru favoured a positive role for the private sector, which culled for effective State regulation and control. The basic heavy and defence industries would be in the public sector. Large-scale industries which needed huge capital investment would also be in the public sector. Nationalization was advocated to gain state control over key industries. But nationalization was not to be followed blindly. Nationalization could not remedy all the economic ills. Nationalization was not synonymous with socialism.
4. Science and Technology :
Science and technology played a crucial role in the economic development of the western countries. It played a still greater role in the rapid economic transformation of the Soviet Union. Hence in an underdeveloped country like India it was essential to build a technologically mature society. Immediately after Independence, Nehru observed “it is science alone that can solve the problem of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people. Who indeed could afford to ignore science today ? At every turn we have to seek its aid—The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science.”
To develop a strong research and scientific base, several national scientific organisations were set up. The expenditure on research and development in the country also went on rising. The declaration of Scientific Policy Resolution (SPR) in 1958 was inspired by Nehru.
Nehru observed that socialism was the inevitable consequence of a civilization based on science. He could not conceive of a socialist society in the absence of technological growth.
5. Priority to Planning :
The Soviet Union made tremendous progress under economic planning. Once India achieved political freedom, Nehru visualised that it must be followed by economic freedom. Nehru had drawn inspiration from the Soviet experience and believed that rapid economic growth of India was possible only through economic planning. Planning was necessary to strike a balance between a number of competing objectives. Planning was also essential to essential to increase national income and the equitable distribution of the same.
Planning was necessary to cover not only industry and agriculture, but also other sectors. National independence depended on a strong industrial base. Besides, there should be a strong regulating mechanism in the form of planning. Planning is formulated and executed by as soon as centralized authority, but in India planning was to be formulated within a democratic setup. According to Nehru, economic planning was a scientific technique rather than an ideological procedure
6. Agrarian Reforms :
The land problem in India had been a dominant issue during the 19th century. During the National movement also the agrarian problems drew the attention of the politicians. The prevalent land tenure systems in India led to exploitation, insecurity of tenancy rights, poverty, vast army of landless labourers, sub-division and fragmentation of Holdings and intermediaries between the State and the peasants. Nehru came into close contact with the agrarian upheaval in the United Provinces in 1920-21. In his Presidential address at the Lahore Congress session m 1929, Nehru said “Real relief can only come by a great change in the Land Laws and the present system of Land Tenure.” In 1936 during the Lucknow Congress session, Nehru suggested to draw an agrarian programme to meet the land problem.
After independence, under the active leadership of Nehru, Zamindari System was abolished. Legislations were enacted for consolidation of holdings, ceilings on landholdings, fixity of rent and redistribution of surplus land to the landless. These land reform measures reflect Nehru’s own perception of socialism as well. In January, 1959 at Nagpur A.I.C.C. Session. Nehru insisted on co-operative joint farming, State trading in food grains and labour co-operatives.
However, in spite of several constraints relating to the implementation of the land reform measures, the land reforms were enforced peacefully through non-violent means. Nehru believed in constitutional means. He was against any revolutionary process in dealing with the agrarian problem.
7. Industrialization :
In Nehru’s socialist pattern, industrialization plays an important role. A strong industrial base was vital for the rapid economic development of India Hence it was necessary to develop heavy industries such as steel, cement, machine tools, heavy electricals, etc. India possessed vast natural and manpower resources. India’s economic development was dependent on a development strategy of modern industrialization. India’s First Five Year Plan consequently emphasized on industry.
But Nehru was not opposed to agriculture either. Industry was to produce collateral advantages in agriculture. Agricultural production was to be raised through mechanization. Similarly in his programme of economic reconstruction, he provided an important place to rural and cottage industries and Khadi. Nehru never believed that socialism was equivalent to accentuation of production only through heavy industries. The Industrial Policy Resolutions of 1948 and 1956 amply demonstrate Nehru’s commitment to develop large as well as small industries simultaneously. Nehru’s faith in the development of cottage industries and Khadi demonstrates the Gandhian orientation of his socialist ideas.
Nehru realized that “for keeping balance in the economy, self-sufficiency was to be promoted and for that as well as for the provision of work and employment village and cottage industries are of paramount importance. Thus, there is not much truth in the allegation that Nehru wanted to promote only heavy and large-scale industries.