Jayaprakash Narayan and lok niti
: Socialism, Gandhism and political cultures of protest in XX Century India

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This work is devoted to situating the life, ideas and work of Jayaprakash Narayan
in the horizon of protest and emancipatory politics in twentieth century India. It
intends to show that JP must be taken as one of the main architects and
promoters of political cultures of protest in XX century India, an ensemble of
practices and forces acting within and outside the realm of institutional state
politics, and involving political parties, anti-statist movements and nongovernmental organizations. Despite being readily identified as a Gandhian
socialist, my general argument in this dissertation is that JP´s life-long political
engagement with the politics of protest and emancipation should be decoded
through the logic of a political culture of protest he identified with lok niti, a
formula that embraces diverse ideals, practices and political strands of opposition to the state brought together by a common aversion to and rejection of “powerpolitics” or raj niti. I will argue that Gandhi´s Non-Cooperation movement provided the event that created the fidelity that propelled JP into politics and that socialism was the framework through which he conceived of social transformation throughout his life. Indeed, socialism, Marxism and the ideas of Gandhi represented for JP little more than systems of interpretation that should be combined with others for the promotion of a truly revolutionary political practice of protest, which he defined as lok niti.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorChristophe Jaffrelot (Supervisor) & Jon Wilson (Supervisor)

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