(Sample Material) UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit "Socio Political Philosophy (M.N. Roy)"

Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit

Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (M.N. Roy)

M.N. Roy was a Marxist at some stage of his life but later on he became a great critic of Marx and criticized all the important principles of Marxism. According to Roy, dialectical process can be used. Successfully in the field of ideas but it cannot be used. Successfully to explain the material world.

Criticism of Economic determinism – As per Roy, economic determinism ignores the importance of those factors which are non economic. Being a deterministic philosophy it leaves no scope for great leaders.

Criticism of class struggle – Roy believes that various classes of the society can live in cooperation with each other. Secondly he also says that Marx ignored the significance of middle class. According to him it is the most important class of the society.

Surplus Value – Surplus value cannot be given to the working class completly. In the absence of appropiation of surplus value, infrastructure research, technological upgradation cannot take place.

Dictatorship of proletariat – According to M.N. Roy, the dictatorship of proletariat in practice became dictatorship on proletariat.

Criticism of Revolution – According to Roy, instead of violent Revolution, rulers may be persuaded and moral pressure from the bulk of society may force the ruler to become just.

Religion – According to Roy Marx criticized religion but in due course of time, Marxism itself became a religion ‘Das Capital’ became its bible and Marx became the Prophet.

There is nothing new in M.N. Roy’s criticism of Marxism. Most of the criticisms of Marx were already formulated by the German philosopher Edward Bernstein therefore sometimes M.N. Roy is criticized as Indian Bernstein.

M.N. formulated the philosophy of new humanism as an alternative to Marxism. But new humanism itself had many short comings and it could not become a popular philosophy.

But M.N. Roy is significant in this respect that he was the first Indian philosopher to compile in a systematic form all the relevant criticisms of Marxism.

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New Humanism or Radical Humanism

M.N. Roy described his humanism as new because according to him, this Humanism was based on the latest developments in the field of Biology and social sciences. It is also called Radical humanism because Roy refuted the existence of God and other extra worldly realities in a radical way. Radical humanism supports the epistemology, metaphysics and ethics of humanism.


i) New Humanism gives central importance to human beings. It completly supports protagoras idea of ‘homonensura’. According to Roy, man is the only reality and no supranatural reality exists other than man. Therefore, Roy, radically refuted the existence of god.
ii) New humanism gives too much importance to reason or human rationality. According to Roy all religious beliefs all social customs should be judged on the criteria of reason.
Roy says that Human rationality is not the expression of some divine conciousness nor it is the imposition of some divine body but it is the result of biological development. In due course of evolution, the quality of reason or rationality also develops in the human beings.
iii) New humanism supports secular morality. It supports that morality which is based on human rationality.
Roy explains morality on the basis of biology and sociology. According to him, all creatures want to live with their fellow beings. This is the biological instinct human beings, being the most developed species create society. In a society, the question of relationship between (a) individual and individual (b) relationship between individual and society arises. When human rationality is used to explain this relationship then the principles of Morality emerge.
iv) New Humanism supports freedom as the most important aspect of individuals life.

Epicureous — “I want to become moral not to please god but to please myself.”

Roy interpreted freedom on the basis of Darwin’s biology and latest researches of sociology. According to Roy, freedom means quest of the individual for a higher existence. Influned from Darwin, Roy maintains that every creatures have a basic instinct for survival. Human beings are the most developed creatures therefore they are not satisfied only with physical or material existence but they want o have existence at higher level also. In other words, they want to live in an atmosphere in which their proper mental development takes place. The passion towards freedom is the result of the quest of the individual for his higher existence. Therefore freedom means all those conditions which are essential for this higher existence. Freedom is attained through our struggle against dictatorship, dogmatism, poverty, illitracy social customs and traditions religious orthodoxy etc.

v) New humanism also emphasis on science and technology.

vi) New humanism supports cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism means the division of humanity in the form of various states is wrong. Entire humanity should be put under one organization a world government.

Criticism of Roy

1) There is nothing new in new humanism
2) The logical outcome of humanism is materialism. In practice it will lead to consumerism.
3) Humanism emphasizes on human needs and its centrality. Therefore it creates imbalance in the ecology leading to various serious problems.
4) New humanism rejects the existence of god. Therefore it is unable to answer some of the fundamental questions related to human existence. Therefore new humanism could not become a popular philosophy.

But still Roy’s views regarding accepts the basic assumptions of humanism but his explanation of various principles of humanism is new in the sense that he explained them in the light of biology and social sciences. His explanation of freedom morality and reason established Roy as an Original Indian Philosopher.

Secularism is a humanist philosophy which believes that religion and other aspects of life like society, economy, culture, legal system and particularly politics (state) should be separate from each other. In other words, secularism means seperation of this worldly life and that worldly life. Secularism supports the notion of rule of law instead of rule of religion. According to Encyclopedia of Religion and ethics, “Secularism may be defined as a movement, intensly ethical, negatively religious with political and philosophical antecedents. Encyclopedia Britannica, defines secularism as non spiritual or related to this world. The world secularism has been derived from the world ‘Seculam’ which means this worldly or mundane.

Secularism has two aspects. In negative sense, secularism means neutrality or apathy from religion. In positive sense, secularism emphasis on this worldly attitude. Therefore it supports rationalism and scientific outlook.

Characterstics of Secularism

According to George Jacob Holy Oake, who coined the teorm secularism in 1851 these are the features.

i) Apathy or neutrality towards religion.
ii) Support for scientific outlook
iii) Emphasis on this worldly attitude.
iv) Support for secular morality.
v) Emphasis on human rationality.

Indian Notion of Secularism

In India the notion of secularism of separation as state and religion is not accepted. Though in negative sense, Indian secularism also means the politics, society, economy, culture in other words public life will be free from the intereference of religion. But Indian Secularise has a more positive connotation which can be seen in the notion of Sarvadharma Samabhava. This means treating all religions equally. In other words Indian Secularism somehow permits the association of state and religion but with this condition that state will not discriminate with any religion. Therefore Indian notion of secularism basically believes in the promotion of various religions by the state but without any discrimination. Pointing out the distinction between western notion of secularism and Indian notion of secularism. Dr. S. Radha Krishnan, western notion of neutrality becomes impartiality and western notion of apathy becomes harmony in India context.

Therefore Indian notion of secularism is a dynamic concept and it suits to the plural society of India. It also protects the interests of minorities. If secularism is defined a separation of religion and state then state will play a nautral role regarding religion. In this situation, in a competitive setting, interests of the minorities may suffer.

In this way in a secular democratic state, the notion of Sarvadharma Sambhav is a better notion because India is a plural society.

Secular State


i) No official Religion
ii) In a secular state the jurisdiction of state and religion are seperate from each other.
iii) Normally politics and religion do not interfere in each other’s Jurisdiction but in case of conflict between state and religion state will control religion.
iv) In a secular state the country is ruled by a constitution and not on the basis of some religious text.
vi) Various religious freedoms are available to the citizens in a secular state. For example freedom to profess, practice and propagate one’s religion.
vii) Freedom not to accept any religion.
viii) Right to manage one’s religious affairs.

India as a Secular state

By and large most of the features of Secular state can be seen in India like India has no official religion preamble of Indian constitution declares India a secular state, judiciary has also declared secularism as one of the basic features of constitution. India does not discriminate among its citizens only on the basis of religion. Indian constitution gives various religious freedoms to its citizens.

But there are certain exceptions which put questions mark on Indian secularism.

i) Absence of Uniform Civil Code
ii) In India various political parties misuse religions during elections.
iii) Political posts, for example composition of council of ministers is also indirectly influence by factors like religion, region, caste etc.
iv) There is diverse opinion regarding the meaning of Indian secularism e.g. Nehru defined secularism in western sense but Gandhi defined it as Sarvadharma Sambhava.

Gandhi’s views on Secularism

Gandhiji did not agree with the western notion of secularism but as an alternative he supported Sarvadharma Sambahva as true Secularism. According to Gandhiji, Religion and politics should not be seperated from each other state should promote religion but it should promote all religions equally. This is the notion of Sarvadharmasambahva.

According to Gandhiji all religions have certain core values which are common. Gandhiji understood religion as a system of Universal morality and politics cannot be seperated from this otherwise it will become corrupt. The philosophical basis can be seen in Gandhi’s doctrine of metaphysical monism. It reflect the influence of Vedanta on Gandhi. According to metaphysical monism there is only one ultimate reality different religion are the various ways to know that reality. The ultimate reality which is one, is manifested in the form of followers of different religions, therefore there should not be any discrimination on the grounds of religion.
“Politics without religion is a body without soul.” (Gandhi’s statement) Gandhiji believed in the synthesis of politics and religion which can be seen in the notion of Sarvadharmasambhava. According to Marx, religion is the opium of people but according to Gandhiji, not only politics but all other aspects of life should be guided by religion.

Gandhiji understood religion as a system of moral values, therefore, religion is a form of universal morality. This the crux of religion. When religion organizes itself in the form of different sects then certain rituals, orthodoxies become the part of religion which makes various religions different from one another. But still the essence is similar i.e. a set of moral values.

Similarly Gandhiji rejected the liberal notion of politics according to which role of politics is to capture power. According to Gandhiji, the purpose of politics is to service, therefore the goal of politics is to serve people and especially the poorest. Therefore in Sarvodaya Gandhiji prefers the word “Lokniti” instead of “Rajneeti”. If politics and religion are explained from this perspective then there is not contradiction in religion and politics.
Religion will become the essence of politics.

This synthesis of religion and politics also can be seen in Gandhi’s theory of “End and means” According to Gandhiji both are equally important and they are related as tree and seed. Therefore the goal of politics which is service can be achieved through religious means only. But in practice this type of view may lead to misuse of religion in politics.

Nehru on Secularism

Nehru by and large believed in the western notion of Secularism. Nehru supported the exclusion of religion from politics on various grounds (i) Philosophically the goals of religion are extra worldly, whereas the goals of politics is this worldly. In practice also fusion of politics and religion may lead to misuse of religion by certain vested interests sometimes it may disturb communal harmony. Synthesis of religion and politics may create problem for minorities for example, if state has an official religion then minorities may be treated as second grade citizen.

Nehru was a great supporter of scientific temper. But according to him religion discouraged scientific temper.


Secularism is a humanist philosophy therefore, secularism and humanism are not against each other but on the other hand they compliment each other.

If secularism is accepted as the philosophy of the state then it means sate will treat the members of all religious equally. Therefore in a secular state, individuals are considered as human beings and not the members of a particular religion. So it suits the notion of human dignity.


Both Humanism and secularism give more importance to temporal world then divine world. Both secularism and Humanism emphasize on scientific and rational approach.

Both humanism and secularism believe in secular morality instead of religious morality.

Both treat human beings the central concern of the world, though secularism is only apathetic towards the existence of god whereas humanism by and large rejects the existence of God.


Multiculturalism is both a descriptive and normative term. As a descriptive term, it refers to cultural diversity or existence of many cultures in society a normative term, multiculturalism endorses the existence of various cultures and respects the values, beliefs and way of life of different culture.

The central them of multiculturalism is that individual identity is culturally embedded. It means individuals are not autonomous creatures but they derive their understanding of their world and moral beliefs from the culture in which they live and develop.

According to Lord Bhikhu Parekh, there are three important features of multiculturalism

i) There is a close relationship between human nature and culture. Culture shapes human nature.
ii) Different cultures have different understanding of the world but this distinction does not make them inferior or superior.
iii) Culture is dynamic therefore existence of various cultures should be maintained because when cultural interaction takes place, each culture benefits.

Therefore multiple cultures should be respected.

Factors responsible for Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism as an ideology started in the decade of 1960’s and today most of the countries of world accept multiculturalism as state policy. Multiculturalism challanged the western notion of one nation of one state and today most of the states are multicultural states.

i) After second world war the whole Europe was disturbed and people migrated from one country to other country for their livelihood.
ii) In the era of globalisation, the notion of space and time did not remain much significant. Territoriality is not a decisive factor today. There is huge migration from one country to other country. Due to these two factor, in western countries the notion of nation state was challenged. The existence of people of various cultures created certain problems and multiculturalism emerged as a tool to solve these problems.
iii) The process of decolonization resulted in the emergence of new states in Asia and Africa where society was Multicultural. These states declared themselves as multicultural and plural state.

Main Elements

i) According to multiculturalism, human behaviour and human nature can be understood only in the light of culture.
ii) Multiculturalism has different interpretations of various notions like equality, politics, citizenship justice etc.

In conventional political philosophy, equality has been understood as someness. The central purpose of equality is similar treatment with all irrespective of religion, race, caste etc. If discrimination is today considered a part of equality then here also the purpose of discrimination is to bring someness Multiculturalism defines equality as difference, equality according to them means recognition of difference which means each culture should be permitted to exist with its own values, beliefs and way of life. Equality means there should be equal recognition to the difference.

Multiculturalism formulates an alternative notion of politics and justice. The conventional notion of politics is the politics of distribution. The purpose of politics is distributive justice and elimination of socio-economic injustice. But multiculturalism rejects the notion of distributive justice and politics. As an alternative, it emphasizes on identity politics and politics recognition. For them, the main problem in society is cultural injustice and not socio-economic injustice.

Multiculturalism rejects the conventional notion of universal citizenship. The notion of universal citizenship emphasizes on a common identity for members of different religion caste, culture, etc. Multiculturalism supports the notion of differentiated citizenship which means people should be accepted as citizens with their distinct identities so they support multicultural rights or minority rights.

Multiculturalism supports the notion of multicultural state instead of the concept of one nation one state.

Models of Multiculturalism. There are three models of multiculturalism. These models may be seen from two different perspectives.

i) As a set of policies adopted by various states.
ii) It may be seen as the pattern of relationship between various cultures.

i) Salad – Bowl Model: According to this model isolation is the main principle. This model believes that various cultures should be recognized in isolation and no effort of integration and interaction should be made e.g. Australia.
ii) Melting Pot Model – In this model, assimilation is the main principle, various cultural groups are given seperate recognition but the purpose of the state is to assimilate them and create one identity e.g. America.
iii) Mosaic – Model – This model is based on the principle of Integration. According to this model, both unity and difference are respected. It emphasizes on two things (i) to create unity in diversity (ii) to protect diversity within unity.

The third model is the best one because it has a balanced approach having tenets of isolation as well as assimilation.


i) Multiculturalism lays over emphasis on culture which may lead to the disintegration of the state e.g. conflicts in Africa, rugolavian split.
ii) According to individualists, multiculturalism is also a form of collectivism.
iii) Certain wrong traditions like child marriage, Sati Pratha Purdah etc. may be defended on the basis of multiculturalism.
iv) According to Amartya Sen, individual has multiple identities. But multiculturalism emphasizes on only one identity i.e. culture.
v) Multiculturalism gives more importance to cultural injustice instead of socio-economic injustice. But this type of thinking may divine those people who have common socio-economic interest. Today the real issue confronting minority groups is not there lack of cultural recognition is lack of reach to socio-economic resources.
vi) According to feminists, multiculturalism may go against the interest of women. Certain parochial practices may be defended on the ground of culture. In every culture, women are treated as secondary citizens. So, as per feminists gender issues instead of cultural issues should be at the centre of politics.


i) Multiculturalism has addressed the problems of immigrants and refugees therefore in the era of globalization it has become very important.
ii) Multiculturalism if taken in positive, sense may lead to national integration. National integration is more a psychological process because, it is based on the feeling of belongingness. Multiculturalism advocates that various cultural group they may be majority or minority should be given equal importance. Therefore, even the minorities.

“Communism is beyond Justice”

(i) Ideal communist society will consider themselves part of the nation.
ii) Multiculturalism highlited the issue of cultural dissemination even in a democratic state.
iii) Multiculturalism gave an alternative perspective to various popular – concepts like equality, justice politics, Citizenship etc.
iv) Multiculturalism gave a new voice to minorities, their rights in the form of minority rights are everywhere respected now.
v) If various cultures are allowed to exist with their separate identity then each culture will be enriched.

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