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
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
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
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
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
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.
i) No official Religion
ii) In a secular state the jurisdiction of state and religion are seperate from
iii) Normally politics and religion do not interfere in each other’s
Jurisdiction but in case of conflict between state and religion state will
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
But there are certain exceptions which put questions mark on Indian
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
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
Both humanism and secularism believe in secular morality instead of religious
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.