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About Jaya Prakash Narayan (JP)

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Jayaprakash Narayan popularly known as’ JP was a confirmed Marxist in 1929. By the middle of 1940s he was inclined towards the Gandhian ideology.

Till 1952 JP had no faith in non-violence as an instrument of social transformation process. The transformations of the Russian society in the late 1920s had thereafter changed his outlook towards Marxism and the process of dialectical materialism.

Soviet Union was no more an ideal model for him for a socialist society. The bureaucratized dictatorship with the Red Army, secret police and guns produced an inherent disliking for the Soviet Pattern of development.

He was convinced that it did not produce “decent, fraternal and civilised humall beings”.

He said in 1947, “The method of violent revolution and dictatorship might conceivably lead to a socialist democracy; but in only country where it has been tried (i.e. the Soviet Union), it had led to something different, i.e. to a bureaucratic slate in which democracy does not exist. I should like to take a lesson from history”.

JP was convinced that there was inter-relationship between nature of the revolution and its ‘ future impact. He was convinced that any pattern of violent revolution would not lead to the empowerment of people at the grassroots level.

JP was very much critical of dialectical materialism on human development. He was convinced that this methodology would affect the spiritual development of man. His concept of Total Revolution is a holistic one.

He used this term Total Revolution for the first time in a British magazine called The Time in 1969. Underlying the emphasis on the Gandhian concept of non-violence and Satyagraha he said, “Gandhiji’s non-violence was not just a plea for law and order, or a cover for the status quo, but a revolutionary philosophy. It is indeed, a philosophy of total revolution, because it embraces personal and social ethics and values of life as much as economic, political and social institutions and processes

Concept of Total Revolution

The concept of Total Revolution as enunciated by JP is a confluence of his ideas on seven revolutions i.e. social, economic, political, cultural, ideological and intellectual, educational and spiritual.

The concept of total revolution became popular in 1974  in the wake of mass movements in Gujarat and Bihar. He was deeply disturbed by the political process of degeneration in the Indian politics of the time.

During his Convocation Address at the Benaras Hindu University in 1970 he said, “Politics has, however, become the greatest question mark of this decade. Some of the trends are obvious, political disintegration is likely to spread, selfish splitting of parties rather than their ideological polarisation will continue; the devaluation of ideologies may continue; frequent change of party loyalties for persona; or parochial benefits , buying and selling of legislatures, inner party indiscipline, opportunistic alliance among parties and instability of governments, all these are expected to continue.”

JP was deeply moved by the mutilation of democratic process, political corruption and fall of moral standards in our public life. He said that if this pattern of administrative process I continues then there would not be any socialism, welfarism, government, public order, justice,  freedom, national unity and in short no nation.

JP was deeply disturbed by the growth of corruption in the Indian political system. He said “I know politics is not for saints. But politics at least under a democracy must know the limits which it may not cross.” This was the focal point of JP’s Peoples Charter which he submitted to the Parliament on 61h March 1975. He said “Corruption is eating into the vitals of our political life. It is disturbing development, undermining the administration and making a mockery of all laws and regulations. It is eroding people’s faith and exhausting their proverbial patience.”

JPs programme of Antyodaya meaning, the upliftment of the last man was an essential aspect of his socialist thought. On 21″ march 1977, in a statement he said, ”Bapu gave us a good yardstick. Whenever you are in doubt in taking a particular decision remember the face of the poorest man and think how it will affect him. May this yardstick guide all their actions.”

Right to work was an integral part of his concept of Total Revolution, he said “Once the state accepts this obligation, means will have to be found for providing employment to all. It is not so difficult to do so.” JP was also particular about social reforms such as elimination of dowry system, development of the conditions of the harijans and abolition of the caste system in India’s political system.


Total Revolution is a combination of seven revolutions – social, economic, political, cultural, ideological or intellectual, educational and spiritual. This Revolution will always go on and keep on changing both our personal and social lives.

It knows no respite, no halt, certainly not a complete halt. It is a permanent revolution and is expected to move on towards higher and higher goals.

The concept of Total Revolution has had both Marxist and Gandhian origins. It is always expected to be total, touching all aspects of life. JP developed his concept of Total Revolution on the basis of a synthesis not merely of Marxist and Gandhian concepts of social revolution but also of the principles of Western Democracy.

JP failed to achieve his revolution and that political parties continued to rule where the people should have stepped in, is a different story. One shrewd commentator has pointed out that the reason for this is that some economic classes and vested interests that dominated society before continued to do so even after the exit of Mrs. Gandhi from the political scene following her massive electoral defeat in 1977. But, perhaps the real reason why “Lok-niti” as JP visualised it could not substitute “Raj-niti” was because JP’s Lok-niti was basically an unworkable utopia.


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