Some of the important features of India’s socialist pattern are discussed below :
(i) Rapid economic development :
India is a country with plenty of unexploited physical, mineral, forest and human resources. Still she is an underdeveloped country where 50 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. The standard of living is exceedingly low. People suffer from hunger, malnutrition, disease, squalor and all other attendant evils of poverty. People will retain their faith in socialism only when it can ensure at least a certain minimum living for the masses.
Raising the standard of living and provision of a national minimum has been an important objective of our plans. The socialist pattern of society in India, therefore, envisages to accelerate the rate of economic development. One of the basic objectives of the Five-Year Plans has been to achieve an annual growth of 5 to 6 per cent. It is believed that through rapid agricultural and industrial development, it would be possible to remove poverty of the Indian masses.
(ii) Reduction in inequalities :
The socialist society of India rejects inequality in any form. In India disparities in diverse forms and in varying degrees have always existed. The Indian socialist society aims at eliminating all such disparities. It, therefore, ensures political equality to all its citizens. It also aims at establishing real economic democracy by reducing economic unequalities. To that end various measures are being adopted to bring about an egalitarian distribution of income and wealth. This is done by following both the ‘levelling up” and “levelling down” measures. Equal distribution of fruits of development among the people is the principal objective of our socialist pattern.
(iii) Respect for human personality and freedom :
The socialist society in India is based on democratic ideals. Democracy is the inspiring force of our socialist philosophy. The democratic socialism that we have in India is different from socialism prevalent in the communist countries. It avoids totalitarianism in any form. It does not substantiate the fear that freedom under socialism is a contradiction in terms. The individual enjoys all the freedoms for the free and full development of his personality, although during a period of emergency certain freedoms may be temporarily suspended. Man is the “be-all” and end-all” of all social processes and social change. This is unlike in a communist State, where the State is glorified as the summum bonum of all social goods. The democratic spirit in India has permeated into every walk of our social life and finds expression through out multifarious activities.
(iv) Preventing the concentration of economic power :
A socialist society also aims at preventing the concentration of economic power and growth of monopolies. Growth of monopolist tendencies is harmful for the economy. The monopolists thrive by exploiting all the sectors of the society. The concentration of economic power in a few hands goes against the very principle of democratic socialism. Hence the State in India has followed various measures to prevent the growth of monopoly power. The Government aims at establishing an industrial organisation in which new entrepreneurs can easily enter. Besides, in such an industrial set-up, small-scale, cottage and co-operative enterprises will be able to increasingly assert themselves.
(v) Equality of opportunity :
Equality of opportunity is a fundamental condition of socialist society. The Directive Principles of Indian Constitution have provided for equal opportunities for all, irrespective of birth, class, sex or creed. It is so, because inequality of opportunities reinforces and magnifies economic and social inequalities, Indian socialism believes that equality of opportunity is the key to a classless society. The State therefore provides a number of facilities to the children belonging to the under-privileged and weaker sections, so that they could receive proper education and rise up in the social ladder. The State also provides a number of facilities to the intending new entrepreneurs in starting enterprises.
(vi) Building a co-operative sector :
Indian socialist pattern also aims at building up a co operative structure for credit, cultivation, marketing and essential services. The Third Five-Year Plan mentions : ”The socialist pattern of society implies the creation of a large number of decentralized units in agriculture, industry and service.. The co-operative movement stands for voluntary self-help for the common good. In India, the rural sector is a dominant one. But the rural economy has been in the most miserable shape. Most of the development institutions are urban-oriented. It is impossible to think of developing the country, if the rural India is lagging behind.
Therefore, the socialist society of India has stressed on building up a co-operative structure in rural economy for credit, farming, marketing and other services. This will be on the Gandhian principle of self-help, where all would stand for each and each would stand for all. People would think together, and live together, which would enrich social life. This co-operative sector would be of immense utility to the poor and weaker sections. The co-operative movement by emphasizing upon “common good through common endeavour can develop an integrated social outlook of the people.” Besides, co-operation brings out a middle path between unrestricted private enterprise and state ownership.
(vii) Dominant role of the public sector :
The socialist pattern of society in India also aims at extending the public sector. This policy is reflected in her industrial policies and licensing policies. Initially only some basic heavy and strategic industries were to be owned and controlled by the State. In course of time the public sector has been constantly expanding because of pressing circumstances. Today the public sector’s activities cover a wide area. It has emerged as a catalyst for economic development and has placed a splendid role in bringing about the socio-economic transformation of the economy. In 1951 there were only 5 central government enterprises with an investment of Rs. 29 crores. In 1978 there were 153 units with a total capital investment of Rs. 12,851 crores.