The late Raghuveer Singh's essays offer insights for the present day

“The ruling elite and bureaucracy have to choose between serving the people and serving the market, and under the pressure of international forces and agencies they have opted for the latter.” This opinion, suggestive of some anguish, could be assumed to be a reference to the debate running currently in India. It is however, reflective of the thoughts of the late Professor Raghuveer Singh of Gorakhpur University, in an address he delivered in 1999. The speech is now available in the form of an essay, “The Administrative State and the homo politics”, in a recently published collection of the late professor’s writings.

The collection of 14 articles and essays has been brought out by his son, Upendra Kumar Singh, as “Perspectives on Philosophy, Metaphysics and Political Theory”. Centring on political philosophy, covering topics such as metaphysics, philosophy, modern values, methodologies, social justice, dilemmas, causality and ancient and modern political thinkers, the book is perhaps the best homage Upendra could have paid to his father, who passed away on July 13, 2011 before the publishing project could be completed.

There are write-ups which one can relate to immediately. “Political culture and culture of politics in India”, delivered by the late author at Jodhpur in 1984 to the delegates of the Indian Political Science Conference, gives a clear, accurate and precise meaning of a ‘neta’ or ‘netas’, with an equally penetrating analysis of ‘neta’ culture which has become so pervasive and persistent, while “The Concept of Social Justice” explores the idea of social justice in the classical and modern political theory.

Raghuveer Singh was born in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh, educated in Varanasi and Allahabad. After securing a first division in 1950 in political science, he joined Lucknow University as a lecturer. He moved to Gorakhpur University, from where he retired as Head, Department of Political Science and Dean, Faculty of Arts, in 1989. Though the works of many of his fellow academics were printed, he, according to Upendra, felt that “academic pursuit was different from publishing books and was quite adamant and rigid for long not to be published.” After much persuasion he yielded, but then due to his ill-health the book could not be brought out.

“I had studied political theory as part of preparation for Civil Services and was interested in the subject, says Upendra, currently Chief Operations Manager, North Central Railways, Allahabad. “Subsequent to his passing away, I discussed about publishing the collection — as I was aware of these — with family and friends.” He adds, “I was keen to fulfil his wishes. More so since he had not published any book during his lifetime.”

The collection also contains articles on John Locke (1632-1704), the famous English philosopher and physician who is known as the Father of Classical Liberalism. One attempts to show that Locke’s theory of natural law is a continuation of the classical natural law philosophy and a not a deviation. The second is an exposition of Locke’s theory of sovereignty. The former was published in Political Studies (Oxford) in the June 1961 issue and the latter in the Indian Journal of Political Science in 1959. A review originally published in the Indian Political Science Review (1970) relates to the work edited by John W. Yolton, “John Locke: Problems and Perspectives”. Here Singh states that Yolton presents Locke’s political theory in proper perspective.

Seven more articles by the professor have been traced, and his son says, “I am interested in publishing them too,” as according to him, “all my father’s writings are meant for serious political scientists, students of political theory and philosophy and also those concerned with the society, its development, values and value systems.”

Professor L.S. Rathore, who has written the introduction, says, “In the field of political theory, especially in the classical and modern political theory, Raghuveerji was one of the top most scholars in India. He was an original thinker who interpreted ideas in his own way.” Commenting that though the professor was of small stature he impressed all those who came in contact with him, Rathore, a friend of Singh since 1962, adds, “He was also a great admirer of John Locke and Mahatma Gandhi.”