About Swatantra: Principles, People, Politics
Swatantra Party, founded in 1959 by C. Rajagopalachari, was India’s first and only national political party to advance principles of social justice, free enterprise, personal liberty, secularism, and individual rights.
Advocating a ‘politics of ethics’, the party featured the voices of prominent liberals such as Minoo Masani, N G Ranga, Piloo Mody, and offered the only substantive alternative to Nehruvian socialism and the monolithic ‘Congress Party system’ which had emerged post-Independence.
After securing substantive electoral victories through 1960s—emerging as the single-largest opposition party in the fourth Lok Sabha (1967-71)—the Party disintegrated in the early seventies, following Rajagopalachari’s withdrawal from politics and demise.
Through its brief but strong tenure of 15 years, the party exercised wide reach throughout India, and exerted significant pressures on issues ranging from industry to foreign policy. Swatantra Party was a significant and unique intervention in the larger narrative of modern Indian politics, and merits sustained engagement from scholars and intellectuals today.
Upon procurement of over 27,000 pages from the defunct Swatantra Party’s offices in Mumbai, Centre for Civil Society aims to store the archive at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
The launch of the archive is marked with a day-long Conference on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at the Auditorium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
The conference provides students a chance to get a glimpse at original historical documents belonging to Swatantra Party, such as speeches, writings, and correspondences of senior leaders such as C Rajagopalachari and Minoo Masani, and interact with leading historians, economists and political scientists on modern Indian politics.
Download Concept note by clicking here.
The proposed session themes and itinery are as follows:
10:00-10:40 am | Welcome Tea and Registration
10:45-11:00 am | Opening Remarks by CCS and Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (5-7 minutes each)
11:00-1:00 pm | Session1 | The Role of Swatantra Party in Indian Politics and Key Stalwarts
The inaugural session is devoted to foregrounding the contribution of Swatantra Party to Indian politics. This panel presents a wide array of scholars who have examined the work and life of key political stalwarts in Swatantra Party, and explores the contribution of members such as Rajaji, Masani, Ranga, and Raju to the party, and Indian politics as a whole.
1:00-2:00 pm | Lunch
2:00 – 3:30 pm | Session 2 | Envisioning State: An Alternative Vision
This panel would be dedicated to exploring the vision of free enterprise and market-based economy that Swatantra supported and fought towards achieving. Highlighting the critique of Indian state’s socialism by members of Swatantra Party, the session would grapple larger debates about the role and limits to state intervention.
3:30 – 4:00 pm |Tea
4:00 – 5:30 pm | Session 3 | Building a Liberal Political Party: Challenges and Opportunities
This panel aims to further the contribution of Swatantra Party by asking: what are the challenges to building a liberal political party, founded on first principles in modern Indian politics?
6 pm onwards | Dinner Talk
Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi in association with Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi
Auditorium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti Marg, New Delhi
Date & Time
03 Feb 2017 (Sunday) 10:30 AM to 05:30 PM
Register online by clicking here.
Arushi Vats: firstname.lastname@example.org, +91 9811575503
For details, visit the official site by clicking here.