The renowned writer, revolutionary and political philosopher, Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), popularly called Lok Nayak or Leader of the Masses, was born in 1902 in the village of Sitabdiara in Ballia District
of Uttar Pradesh
. Attracted early in youth to political ideologies and the Indian Independence Movement, Jayaprakash was deeply inspired by the Socialist and Marxist philosophies during his higher studies in the United States. Back in India, he, like his wife Prabhavati, joined Mahatma Gandhi
and the Indian National Congress in their struggle for independence. But, for Jayaprakash independence was not just political - it was social, economic and intellectual too.
Jayaprakash's political activism was thoroughly bold and revolutionary, and the numerous imprisonments and extreme torture by the British Government put him through could not deter him from his goals. In the early 1930s he formed the Congress Socialist Party, and in early 1950s, after Gandhi's assassination, the Praja Socialist Party, independent of the Congress. By this time he was also disillusioned by Soviet Marxism and increasingly aware of the practical possibilities of Gandhism. In a unique blend of Gandhian philosophy and the ideals of Western Democracy, Jayaprakash had his own ideas to reform the Constitution and the Administrative and Judicial Systems, to nationalize banks, revive Swadeshi (indigenization, as against globalization) and reform social support systems; and he refused a position in the Nehru Government as not to stake his views.
The later phase of his life was devoted to Acharya Vinoba Bhave's Bhoodan Movement. In the 1970s he vigorously contested the Indira Gandhi Government that was then indicted for corruption in elections. During the political Emergency period (1975-77) declared by Indira Gandhi, Jayaprakash was imprisoned, and from the physical and mental wounds caused by this, he never recovered. In the late '70s a badly shattered but not defeated Jayaprakash inspired several parties to join together to form the Janata party, which was the first non-Congress Party to rise to power at the Center. He died in 1979, leaving behind a vast repertoire of his books on political sociology and numerous disciples and admirers who still consider him as their unrivaled leader.