The LPG—liberalisation, globalisation, privatisation—cylinder rolled out in 1991, notionally leaving behind the license-quote-permit raj that exemplified the socialist era. Yet, 19 years later, the Supreme Court has ruled out striking out the 42nd amendment that inserted allegiance to “socialism” as one of the prerequisites for parties seeking recognition to contest elections.
Although “market forces” are all around us, the SC has declined to entertain a public interest litigation seeking the removal of socialism as enshrined in Section 29-A of the representation of people Act which mandates that no political party would be registered by Election Commission unless it bore “true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy.”
The SC’s contention is that even the parties that were responsible for getting the State to vacate the “commanding heights” of the economy, had no objection to being asked to swear by “socialism”. And this, although Babasaheb Ambekdar had himself opposed the inclusion of the word “socialist” in the Constitution.
Questions: After 19 years of liberalisation, is it time to junk socialism from the Constitution? Or, in a poor country like ours, is socialism an ideal we must always aspire to, in spite of market forces? Are our parties right in sticking to socialism while succumbing to market forces? Or is this just an academic point of no interest to the aam admi?