The constitution of India states the following:

We, The People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:

Justice: social, economic and political;

Liberty: of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

Equality: of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

Fraternity: assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

Despite being a "socialist" state, India has a lot of private sector industries not owned by the people, which are somehow operated and owned only by a select few who are a part of the company.

The word "socialist" was added after the 42nd amendment of the Indian constitution. Also, it says that the people of India would be given equality of status and opportunity but there still exists a system of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other backward classes.

Why does the preamble of the constitution of India state that India is a “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”?

  • 11
    Socialism is not communism - socialism (broadly speaking) means there are things like welfare, public education and socialised medicine. It does not prevent private ownership.
    – user6298
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 9:08
  • @HorusKol - actually, no. Socialism means that the government owns the means of production. Full stop. Welfare is NOT socialism.
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 11:43
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    Socialism means whatever you want it to mean. The question is what the authors of the 42nd amendment meant when they decided to call India a "socialist" republic. And it would really surprise me if there weren't a lot of commentary and documentation on this.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:28
  • 1
    @user4012 Socialism alone might, but Social Democratism (notice that both those words are used) is far more relaxed about private ownership. It recognizes the right of the one to live their life balanced against the right of the many to not be exploited.
    – SGR
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 10:39
  • 1
    @Philipp - the term socialism was coined before postmodernism. As such, it has a specific meaning. It's somewhat wishy washy, but still specific enough in that the means of production are owned by the state. Social Democratism is what you're thinking of, as another commenter noted.
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


In the context of the European political axis, India was given independence by the British in reaction to a movement lead by a fairly "left-leaning" activist that advocated multiculturalism, localism, and socialism - something akin to the Green parties in Europe.

Gandhi's movement was about empowering the disadvantaged and lower classes of British India - something that would have been opposed by Westminster and the Indian civil service.

The rebellion often pitted the 'disadvantaged' against the 'establishment' - in a similar manner to how the left-wing is pitted against the establishment in Europe.

The term 'socialist' is often ignored in modern day India. It's usually interpreted as a way for the writers to convey the need of government to ensure that all sections of society are cared for; note the root of the words society and socialism are the same.

And India was historically a socialist state under the governance of the INC, but it became too bureaucratic and fell to the corruption that was left over from the rule of the British East India Company, so India was then reformed by a BJP government into a more capitalist economy.

Both China and India were following similar economic concepts, with China being more authoritarian and monocultural than India, but China realized the potential of a liberal economy and liberated, and this move was soon accelerated in India after the election of a BJP government*.

(* Reforms were initiated under an INC government, but under pressure from the rise of the BJP and global institutions such as the IMF, during an economic crisis in 1991)

  • What a politically biased and wrong answer - India did not "reform" to capitalism under BJP nor is socialism ignored in India today.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 11:15
  • (-1) This a wrong answer. It is just opinion of the author, and there's no basis for it in reality
    – whoisit
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 3:25

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