Tag: <span>Jayaprakash Narayan</span>

League of Nations Rapprochement of Cultures.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Featured Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Rene Wadlow.

28 April 1919 can be considered as the birth of the League of Nations.  The creation of the League had been on the agenda of the Peace Conference at Versailles, just outside of Paris, from its start in January 1919.  

The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was the chief champion of the League.  The creation of such an organization was discussed from the start in January, along with discussions as to where the headquarters of the League would be set.  On 28 April, there was a unanimous decision to create a League of Nations and at the same time Geneva was chosen for its headquarters.

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America. By Harris & Ewing, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The First decade of the League’s life.

Some of the later failings of the League were visible from the start.  Defeated Germany and revolutionary USSR were not invited to join, and the U.S. Senate turned down the invitation.  Nevertheless, the first decade of the League’s life saw a good deal in international cooperation, especially in the fields of labor conditions, health, social welfare, intellectual cooperation, and agriculture – all areas that would later be continued and developed within the U.N. system.

The first decade saw the settlement of a number of conflicts that could have led to war.  There was a wide-spread feeling that a new era in international relations had been born. However, the 1930s began with the conflicts which led to the end of the League.

Mukden Incident.

On 18 September 1931 Japan accused China of blowing up a Manchurian railway line over which Japan had treaty rights.  This “Mukden Incident” as it became known was followed by the Japanese seizure of the city of Mukden and the invasion of Manchuria.  Military occupation of the region followed, and on 18 February 1932 Japan established the puppet state of Manchukin.

Further hostilities between Japan and China were a real possibility.  The League tried to mediate the conflict under the leadership of Salvador De Madariaga, the Ambassador of Republican Spain to the League.  In practice, none of the Western governments wanted to get involved in Asian conflicts, especially not at a time when they were facing an economic depression.

The Spanish writer Salvador de Madariaga and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina José María Cantilo talked during a session of the League of Nations (1936). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-govermental organization cooperation.

Non-govermental organization cooperation with the League of Nations was not as structured as it would be by the U.N. Charter.  There were a few peace groups in Geneva which did  interact informally with the League delegations – the Women’s International League for Peace and Fredom, the International Peace Bureau, and the British Quakers were active but were unable to speak directly in League meetings.  They could only send written appeals to the League secretariat and contact informally certain delegations.

In reaction to the Japan-China tensions, Dr Maude Revden, a former suffragist, one of England’s first women pastors, influenced by Mahatma Gandhi whom she had visited in India proposed “shock troops of peace” who would volunteer to place themselves between the Japanese and Chinese combatants.  The proposal for the interposition of an unarmed body of civilians of both sexes between the opposing armies was proposed to the Secretary General of the League of Nations, Sir Eric Drummond.  

Drummond replied that it was not in his constitutional power to bring the proposal before the League’s Assembly.  Only government could bring agenda items to the Assembly.  Nevertheless, he released the letter to the many journalists then in Geneva as the Assembly was in session. The letter was widely reported.

An unarmed shock troop of the  League never developed, and China and much of Asia became the scene of a Japanese-led war.

Sir Eric Drummond circa 1918. By Bain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations by World Citizens.

The idea of an unarmed interposition force was again presented this time to the United Nations by world citizens shortly after the U.N.’s creation at the time of the 1947-48 creation of the State of Israel and the resulting armed conflict.  The proposal was presented by Henry Usborn  a British MP, active in the world federalist and world citizen movement.  Usborn was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha (a soul force) and proposed that a volunteer corps of some 10,000 unarmed people hold a two kilometre-wide demilitarized zone between Israel and its Arab neighbors.   

Somewhat later, in 1960, Salvador De Madariaga, who had ceased being the Spanish Ambassador to the League when General Franco came to power, created in 1938 the World Citizens Association from his exile in England.

The Gandhian Indian Socialist.

He developed a proposal with the Gandhian Indian Socialist Party leader Jayapeakash Narayan for a U.N. Peace Guards, an unarmed international peace force that would be an alternative to the armed U.N. forces. (1) De Maderiaga  and Narayan held that a body of regular Peace Guards intervening with no weapons whatever, between two forces in combat or about to fight  might have considerable effect.  The Peace Guards would be authorized by the U.N. Member States to intervene in any conflict of any nature when asked by one of the parties or by the Secretary General.

Jayaprakash Narayan during his visit in Germany, 1959. By Ullstein bild, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dag Hammarskjold who was having enough problems with armed U.N. troops in the former Belgium Congo and understanding the realpolitik  of the U.N. did not act on the proposal.  Thus for the moment, there are only armed U.N. troops drawn from national armies and able to act only on a resolution of the Security Council.

Photograph of Dag Hammarskjöld(1953). By Caj Bremer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might interesting to read: Dag Hammarskjold. Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder .

Note.


1) A good portrait of Jayaprakash Narayan, a world citizen, is set out in Bimal Prasad. Gandhi, Nehru and J.P. Studies in Leadership (Delhi, Chamakya Publications, 1985)

Narayan was also one of the Indian leaders met by the student world federalist leaders in their 1949 stay in India. See Clare and Harris Wofford, Jr.
India Afire (New York: John Day Company, 1951).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Jayaprakash Narayan Rapprochement of Cultures.

Jayaprakash Narayan: Advocate of the Nonviolent Total Revolution.

Featured Image: Jayaprakash Narayan during his visit in Germany, 1959. By Ullstein bild, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jayaprakash Narayan (1902-1979) whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 October, was an Indian social reformer in the struggle for Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi and a social reformer after the independence of India.  J.P. as he was usually called, had followed the advice given by Gandhi to refuse schooling financed by the British colonial authorities.  Thus in 1922, he left India to go to the USA.  With part-time jobs, he financed  his education at different U.S. universities until 1929 when he received a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Ohio and  then returned to India.

While at the University of Wisconsin, through some professors and a few students, he discovered the writings of Karl Marx and ever after considered himself a Marxist.  As he wrote:

Marxism provided a beacon of light for me: equality and brotherhood.  Freedom was not enough. It must mean freedom for all – even the lowliest – and this freedom must include freedom from exploitation, from hunger and poverty.”

On his return to India, he went to stay at the rural center where Mahatma Gandhi lived and where he had left his wife.  J.P. had married Prabhavat, whose father was a prominent co-worker of Gandhi.  She was 14 years old at the time and Gandhi and his wife had accepted her  as an adopted daughter when J.P. left for the U.S.  While he was away, she took the vow for a life-long abstinence from sexual relations which Gandhi encouraged  his followers to take. Thus, she and J.P. had no children.  She was highly devoted to him and an active support during the many years that he spent in jail for his political activities.  Her death in 1973 was a hard blow to him, especially as his health was then declining.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Bimal Prasad writes in his analysis of the leadership qualities of Jayaprakash Narayan.

While Gandhi led India to freedom and Nehru laid the foundations of a modern, democratic state, it was left to J.P. to go on struggling for the establishment of a social order in India, of which both Gandhi and Nehru had dreamt.  The dominant feature of his political life extending over half a century was a quest for a revolution which would usher in a just social order, enshrining equality as well as freedom.”

In the years prior to Independence, he moved around the country, helping to set up an underground network of activists.  He was first put in jail in 1932 by the British; again in 1940 for 9 months and then moved into a prison camp where he fasted for nearly one month demanding the release of other prisoners.  He escaped from the camp but was re-arrested in 1943 and released only in April 1946 when negotiations between the Indian Congress leaders, especially Nehru  and the British were well under way. 

Jayaprakash Narayan had always stressed that independence could not be granted by England.  Independence could come only by a seizure of power, led especially by peasants. J.P. opposed the idea of dividing British India into India and Pakistan, but his release from prison was too late for him to have any influence on the negotiations.

Democratic Socialism.

When not in prison, he had organized a Marxist current within the Congress Movement, called the Socialist Congress Party.  Jayaprakash Narayan  had already in the mid 1930s become highly critical of the Stalinist government of the USSR, its emphasis on State-ownership of heavy industry, its collectivization of agriculture, the “Moscow trials” of former party leaders, and the efforts of Stalin to control all Marxist movements abroad.  Thus J.P. put his emphasis on what he called “Democratic Socialism” and stopped calling himself a Marxist.

J.P. by temperament was not attracted to parliamentary life with its maneuvering for power and position.  He did not stand for elections and refused an offer by Nehru to enter the government as a minister.  He was always an advocate of decentralization and the idea of local leadership in the form of “village republics”.  Thus, when a close co-workers  with Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, began the Bhoodan (land gift) movement in 1951 he joined the effort to have land owners give some of their land to the landless.  

He left the re-named Socialist Party, which in any case by 1955 had disintegrated into factions and had largely disappeared from the political scene.  J.P. also was out of sight of those interested in politics until 1974.  Then in 1974, dismayed by what he said was:

dishonesty, corruption, manipulation of the masses, naked struggle for personal power and personal gain”.

he decided to act politically.  He added:

The permissible limits have already been crossed in this country.” 

 

He called upon students to push for the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly (his home state) the Vidhan Sabhap.  He created what he called the Sampona Kranti, the Total Revolution Movement.  The movement started spreading, and the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, declared an Emergency, allowing for strong restrictions on civil liberty. Although J.P. had been close to Nehru and looked upon Indira Gandhi as his niece, he was critical of her way of functioning.  J.P. was arrested but then released because of his ill health.  The Emergency lasted from June 1975 until January 1977.

J.P.’s last years until his 1979 death were those of ill health and sadness.  There had not been a Total Revolution nor had village republics been created.

However, his goal lives on.

The problem is to put man in touch with man, so that they may live together in meaningful, understandable, controllable relationships. In short, the problem is to recreate the human community.”

Vinoba Bhave Jawaharlal Nehru with Vinoba Bhave at the Paunar Ashram. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note:

(1) Bimal Prasad. Gandhi, Nehru, and J.P. Studies in Leadership.
(
Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1985)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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