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Jayaprakash Narayan : democratic theory and practice

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McGushin, Sally (1992) Jayaprakash Narayan : democratic theory and practice. Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis explores Jayaprakash Narayan's ideas on democracy as he commuted between constitutional and extra-constitutional politics. It seeks to help establish whether those ideas were merely confused or whether they broke new ground by developing new styles of popular mobilisation that would improve or pave the way for an alternative to the modem state in India. The strengths and weaknesses of his ideas are drawn out from a study of four voluntary organisations and their work in the states of Bihar and West Bengal. These are the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini (Bodh Gaya); Lok Samiti in conjunction with Nay Bharat Jagriti Kendra (Hazaribagh district); the Institute for Motivating Self Employment (West Bengal and the Santhali Area in Bihar); and the Society for the Advancement of Rural Economy, Education and Kultur (West Bengal).
What becomes apparent is that, while JP basically came to believe in a voluntarist or Gandhian philosophy of participatory democracy, that is lokniti, focusing on the role of the individual in society, his approach was most eclectic. For example he had been attracted to Marxism in his youth and he founded the Congress Socialist Party. In addition, JP always maintained an interest in ideas from many sources and he encouraged community type networking so that community groups could support each other, pooling resources and information in order to maximise any benefits.
Central to JP's ideas were his organisational work to develop the foundation for an alternative political structure and his decision to integrate the "new" voluntarist politics with the "old" constitutional politics, believing that if the former was to be developed then cognisance had to be taken of the latter. JP's own success was limited, particularly as his ideas came to be identified with the political defeat of the Congress (I), but this was not the essence of his ideas. JP's basic concern was at the grass roots level.
It is this concern that is brought out in the study of the four voluntary organisations, although not all the organisations were directly inspired by JP. The scale of the organisations was very limited and no clear cut goal emerged but the general theme was with self-reliant people's movements as agents of transformation towards improving or changing the polity. All of them recognised the need for a balance between popular mobilisation and economic development, although the CYSV did not regard that as its role.
The strategies employed by the organisations were effective in improving the bargaining position of the poor and the development of independent resources and capabilities at the local level. However, they have not been able to formulate any definite mode of popular representation and participation. Nevertheless, a systematic understanding of the extra-constitutional operation of these four organisations gives further insight into JP's ideas and his attempts to launch a "total revolution" in Indian democracy by developing new styles of popular mobilisation.

Item Type: Thesis (Unspecified)
Keywords: Narayan, Jayaprakash, 1902-1979, Associations, institutions, etc
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1992 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 272-289)

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:33
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2017 01:40
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