Minocher Rustom Masani was born on 20 November 1905 in a Bombay based Parsi family. His father P Masani had authored a biography of Dadabhai Nooroji. Masani completed his higher education from the Elphinstone College and the London School of Economics. He then became a member of the Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four lawyer’s associations in London. At LSE, he was a participant in the student politics and also visited the USSR in 1927. The young Masani was an admirer of the communist experiment. He was back in India in 1928 to practice law at the Bombay Bar.
Masani’s participation in the Civil Disobedience movement landed him in the Nashik Jail in 1932. In the jail, his discussions with JP, Achut Patwardhan, and Ashok Mehta led him to start a socialist group within the Congress. In 1934, the Bombay branch of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) was set-up under him. A year later he visited the Soviet Union again to explore the possibility of an alliance with the Soviet communists. Masani’s CSP, though, had to face opposition from the Congress conservatives. It also came in conflict with many provisional Congress government after the 1937 election because of its radical agenda.
By 1938, however, Masani was growing disenchanted with communism. He had become very critical of Stalinist purges and urged his fellow socialists to oppose it. The attempted takeover of CSP by the communists also made him wary of the ideology. Also, the influence of Gandhi turned him away from communism as he now began to see the state as the biggest threat to human liberty. He would resign from CSP and retire from politics altogether in 1939.
Masani took a job for a period of 16 years from 1941 to 1957 under JRD Tata after he left his membership of the CSP. During this period he was also a member of the Constituent Assembly and served as the Mayor of Bombay. He was appointed the Government of India’s representative to the UN Sub-Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities from 1947 to 1952. He quit his job and other responsibilities for a brief period from 1948 to 1949 and went on to become India’s first Ambassador to Brazil. With the dissolution of the assembly in 1952, he again retired from politics for a while.
Masani’s combat against the increased influence of communism became a feature of his public career in independent India. In 1950, he had set up the Democratic Research Service with the help of Sardar Patel and the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom along with JP. DRS published a monthly journal Freedom First and ICCF came with Quest. In 1957, Masani contested and won a set in the Lok Sabha as an independent candidate from the Ranchi constituency. He was supported by the tribal leader Jaipal Munda. Masani sought to create a liberal political front for which he courted the support of Rajaji and JP. Both of them declined on different grounds.
The Nagpur Resolution of Congress which advocated cooperative farming brought Rajaji and Masani together to form the political party. Swatantra Party came into being in 1959 as a coalition of pro-market businessmen, peasant proprietors, beleaguered princes, and zamindars. Masani served as the General Secretary from 1959 to 1968 and was then elected the party President. Swatantra emerged as the single largest opposition party in the fourth Lok Sabha (1967-1971) with 44 seats. The massive electoral defeat of Swatantra led Masani to resign and retire from active politics.
Masani, however, continued to manage DRS and Freedom First. He fought against the press censorship imposed during the Emergency. Project for Economic Education and Leslie Sawhny Programme of Training for Democracy was his brainchild for creating a liberal discourse in India.
He passed away in the year 1998 at the age of 93, having lived a long and eventful life.
- Too Much Politics, Too Little Citizenship (1969).
- Liberalism (1970)
- The Constitution, Twenty Years Later (1975).
- Hamara Hindustan
- A Plea for a Mixed Economy (1947).
- Neutralism in India (1951)
- Our India (Oxford University Press, 1954).
- We Indians (Oxford University Press, 1989).
- Of Four Real Leaders, Some Reminiscences (Freedom First, 1980).
- Picture of a Plan (Oxford University Press, 1945).
- Our Growing Human Family: From Tribe to World Federation (Oxford University Press, 1950).
- The Essence of Democracy (Harold Laski Institute of Political Science, 1989)
- The Communist Party of India: A Short History (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1954).
- Our Foreign Policy: A Plea for Realism (Swatantra Party, 1966).
- Congress Misrule and the Swatantra Alternative (Manaktalas, 1966).
- Is JP the Answer (Macmillan Co of India, 1975).
- Bliss was it in that Dawn A Political Memoir Upto Independence (Arnold-Heinemann Publishers, 1977).
- The Third World-Quo Vadis? (Jaico Publishing House, 1979).
- Against the Tide (Vikas, 1981).
- Judgement Reserved (Swatantra Party, 1965).
- Freedom and Dissent: Essays in Honour of Minoo Masani on His Eightieth Birthday (Democratic Research Service, 1985).
- Socialism Reconsidered (Project for Economic Education, 1988).
- In the Vanguard of Freedom: Essays in the Honour of Minoo Masani (Minoo Masani 90th Birthday Felicitation Committee, 1995).
- JP Mission Partly Completed (Macmillan Co of India, 1977).
|Congress Misrule and the Swatantra Alternative|
|We Indians : Minoo Masani (1989)|
|Of Four Real Leaders, Some Reminiscences, Freedom First (1980)|
|Picture of a Plan (1945)|
|A Plea for a Mixed Economy (1947)|
|Our Growing Human Family (1950)|
|Neutralism in India (1951)|
|Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom : March 28 to 31, 1951 (1951)|
|The Communist Party of India: A Short History (1954)|
|Congress Misrule and the Swatantra Alternative (1956)|
|Too Much Politics, Too Little Citizenship (1969)|
|The Constitution, Twenty Years Later (1975)|
|Bliss was it in that Dawn … (1977)|
|The Third World-Quo Vadis?(1979)|
|Against the tide (1981)|
|Autobiography of Minoo Masani, Volumes I (1981)|
|Autobiography of Minoo Masani, Volumes II (1981)|
|Freedom and Dissent : Essays in Honour of Minoo Masani (1985)|
|Essays in Honour of Minoo Masani (1985)|
|Socialism Reconsidered : Project for economic education (1988)|
|In the Vanguard of Freedom : Essays in the Honour of Minoo Masani (1995)|
|Minoo Masani – November 20, 1905- May 27, 1998|
|The Indian Libertarian Volume : 5 ;Issue: 7||1 June 1957|
|The Indian Libertarian Volume : 5 ;Issue: 15||1 October 1957|
|The Indian Libertarian Volume : 5 ;Issue: 22||1 February 1958|
|The Indian Libertarian Volume : 7 ;Issue: 1||1 April 1959|
|The Indian Libertarian Volume : 7 ;Issue: 2||15 April 1959|
Talks & Lectures
How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Trade Deficit | Sudha Shenoy
Lecture presented by Sudha R Shenoy at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama; October 26, 2006.