Rammanohar Lohia was born on 23 march 1910 in an ordinary middle class family. His father, Hiralal, was a freedom fighter and Congress leader. Lohia received his high school education at Marwari School in Bombay and higher education at Kashi Vishvavidyalaya (Banaras Hindu University ) and Calcutta University. He was a Student activist while he studied for his degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Berlin University.
Lohia was one of the Founders of the socialist movement in India, and helped formation of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934.
He was a brilliant and original thinker as well as a man of action.
Upon his return from abroad, Lohia edited The Congress Socialist, an English weekly, published from Calcutta.
When Lohia was nine or ten year old, his father took him to Gandhiji. He touched the feet of Gandhiji. Gandhiji blessed him by patting him on the back. But his first live contact with Gandhiji was after he returned from Germany. He was very closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi. In a conversation with Lohia, Gandhi ji said: Lohia was brave, but that there might be braver persons in his crowd, and he seemed to laugh away the whole concept of bravery by stating that the tiger was brave, too. He continued that there might be more learned, too. Gandhiji concluded that Lohia had sheel, which could best be translated as possessing continuity in character, and said that there seemed to be none more consistent than Lohia in his crowd and also that consistency or continuity in character was the distinguishing mark of man from other animals.
He was the leading figure of 1942 rebellion and inspired the setting up of an underground radio.. After his arrest in 1944, he was interned in the Lahore Fort and Tortured.
He initiated Goa and Nepal struggles in 1946, and Kisan marches and struggles against government injustice beginning with 1947 and the Asian Socialist Conference in 1951.
Lohia was Secretary of the Congress Foreign Department during 1936-38. In 1946, he refused to be General Secretary of the Congress. He was General Secretary of the Praja Socialist Party in 1954 and Chair, man of the Socialist Party in 1956.
Lohia was an indefatigable champion of civil liberty, argued his own habeas corpus petitions and won many landmark court victories. He was arrested more than 20 times by British, Portugal, Nepal and Indian Governments, and probably holds the world record in Political arrests.
He founded and edited, Krishak, a Bengali weekly, jana a Hindi monthly, and Mankind, an English monthly.
Apart from action, Lohia made a great contribution to socialist thought. He was the originator of the ideas of the trident of spade, prison and vote which put his ideas apart from western social democracy and communism. His Sapta Kranti(Seven Revolutions) summed up his philosophy of life.
Lohia was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1963 and made his first historic speech concerning India’s poverty and his last in 1967, about the remedy to remove poverty. He used the forum of parliament in an unprecedented manner by taking it to the people and bringing the people into it. His contribution to the parliamentary way was phenomenal.
Lohia was a great believer in principled politics and his one concern was to lift the country from the morass in which it had fallen. Lohia, however, was no narrow-minded nationalist. He was a Universalist. He believed not in the citizenship of birth but of the mind. He fought for a world government with limited authority and an international order free from visa and passport and once travelled without passport to Myanmar. On 28 May 1964 he was arrested by the U.S. Government when he tried to eat at a “while” restaurant, (segregated cafeteria) in Jackson, Mississippi, for which the State Department had to Apologize.
Lohia formulated theories of: twin origins of capitalism and imperialism; small-unit machine; equal irrelevance; the third camp; immediacy; oscillation between class and caste; efficiency, total or maximum; physical and cultural approximation of mankind; permanent civil disobedience; co-existence with approximation; autonomous relationship of general and economic aims or spirit and matter; inverse relationship of internal rebellion and external invasion; preferential opportunity for backward groups in place of equal opportunity.
If the academic fate of previous excursions I undertook into economic and political theory were any guide, I should have desisted from the publication of this effort into historical theory. But hope is undying
History appears to move with the inexorable logic of a Grecian tragedy. Around the end of 1953, after five weeks away from home, I was the only coloured listener to a group of white men and women in an airlines bus conversing in great detail on the bugs and insects of India and the lifelong disabilities they cause. I held my tongue for a long while, for I have learnt to be patient though not yet in a complete way. To a particularly vivacious lady, I told the story of the cobra with its vicious bite beyond remedy. Some people in the bus thought that I was an embittered man. I was not aware of any bitter repetitiousness of history. I told the bus that India in fact was the poorest and dirtiest country in the world but that, in a hundred years or less, Europe and America may well change places with India. That is the wheel of history. It moves without emotion. My people and country have twice before stood on top of history and I would not like that to happen a third time. For, if there is a third time to get on to the top, we will as surely tumble to the dirt of the bottom again. American and Europeans, Greeks and Romans excepted and they are by no means current part of the white family, are new to this business of top and bottom. They have no race memories to tell them of the wheel of history. That is the great tragedy. If only man were not forever broken on this wheel and instead broke it on a designed approximation of the human race, the world may yet ring with the wise man’s laughter that I heard with Mahatma Gandhi and whose echo in Albert Einstein warmed me. Gibran Mejdalni, his mother, their chauffeur, all three Arabs, and I drove from Beirut to Damascus, land and hills hallowed by stories from the Bible. A wasp entered the car. Gibran’s mother got agitated and had the car stopped. The wasp had settled on my side. I picked up some stiff paper and gently tried to push the wasp out of the window. The wasp dallied a little with me, as was only to be expected. Gibran’s mother got further agitated and urged me to kill it. I told her that the poor thing would die by itself in a matter of days. She thought that it would sting some other man befoe it died and asked me what I would do to a snake. After telling her that animals and insects did not generally attack unless trod upon or reasonably frightened, I asked her what she would do to her own kind who attacked out of unreasoning fright or hate. She said that she would try to kill them. I told her that she would in that case have to engage in the preventive killing of the whole human race. Gibran intervened at this stage to tell his mother of India and of Gandhi. The wasp flew out of the window. Wasp have in fact to be pushed out of windows and, if there is a let-down on that, their stings and killers would multiply. Most species are however impossible to destroy through killing; they cease to be if their breeding is impeded. No bomb, not even hydrogen bombs, can ever so kill the human race that it ceases to breed. Evil that lies in living beings can never be killed outright; it may at best be prevented from breeding. Wasp have therefore to be pushed continually out of windows and their breeding places must be espied and cleaned. Will the reading of history ever help man to espy and clean the breeding grounds of the evil in his destiny?
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