Context:

  • Despite impressive economic growth in the last two decades, inequalities and injustices are prevalent in the country.

Social Justice:

  • Social Justice is ideally justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
  • Here, the justice assigns rights and duties in the institutions of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation.
  • The relevant entitlements can include education, healthcare, social security, labour rights, as well as a broader system of public services, progressive taxation and regulation of markets, etc. which are needed to ensure fair distribution of wealth, equal opportunity, equality of outcome, in short a just society.

Social Justice in India:

  • As we approach our 70th Independence Day, one cannot help but reflect on where we stand as a nation.
  • Our Constitution should have helped us create a truly egalitarian society but the power elite has failed miserably in ensuring equality and justice for all.
  • Despite impressive economic growth in the last two decades, inequalities and injustices are pervasive.

Examples of social injustice in the current context:

How reservation came into being?

  • India was a country with a very rigid caste based hierarchal structure where the higher casts enjoyed most of the benefits while the lower casts were looked down upon.
  • The majority of the population was backward socially, economically, educationally, and politically.
  • The backward classes were classified as the Scheduled castes (SC), Scheduled tribes (ST), and other backward classes.
  • When India became an independent nation, the framers of the Constitution took upon themselves the duty of forwarding interests of the backward classes by having Article 46 in the Constitution.
  • Article 46 stated that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interest of the weaker section of the people, also protecting them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Article 46 was complimented by the inclusion of many other articles for the empowerment of the backward classes.
  • Although the reservation policy is an exception to the equality rule, it is still considered an essential element of equality.
  • Equality has many dimensions and one such dimension is the reservation policy for the backward classes.

The major drawbacks of reservation:

  • The implementation of reservation or quota system was not carried out smoothly.
  • There has been bipolarity building up on the issue of reservation which is surely and steadily partitioning the society.
  • Nearly half of all government jobs are out of the majority’s reach because of the method of social justice adopted by the government.
  • But even after  nearly 70 years of independence the people still are having to fall back on reservation, and that shows the success or otherwise, of governments in delivering social justice.

Governance in India:

  • Lack of accountability at all levels is at the core of bad governance in India and every problem emerges from it – whether violence, corruption, poverty, or even population.
  • On the Global Integrity Index that measures governance and anti-corruption of nations, India fairs badly.
  • Two urgent needs for reforms in the country are Police and Judicial Reforms. The police force is still operating in the colonial mindset.
  • Poor and ordinary citizens are particularly vulnerable when they have to deal with the police and seek justice.
  • Indian courts are atrociously slow that makes a mockery of justice.

Communalism:

  • After Partition, there was animosity between the majorities and minorities but that has abated over time.
  • However, since the late 1980s, the mutual suspicion and distrust have intensified, and the country is witnessing a majoritarian assault on the minorities and their way of life.
  • Lynching for beef eating and suspicion of cow slaughter has become virtually quotidian.
  • What we see today is an overpowering communalisation of the public space.
  • The social gulf between the two communities that seems to be widening poses a greater threat to the nation’s well-being.

Inequality in rural India:

  • India is today self-sufficient in agriculture, is the biggest exporter of rice in the world, the biggest producer of milk and second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables.
  • The farming community makes this happen. Yet unending waves of farmer suicides are overt manifestations of an on-going human tragedy.
  • They are victims of an iniquitous system where even bumper harvests do not ensure reasonable profits; where there is no insurance against the vagaries of nature or volatility of the market; where the government’s focus is on containing food inflation in cities with hardly a thought to whether the producer is adequately remunerated; where the governing class obsesses about smart cities and bullet trains while rural India remains without basic infrastructure.

Suggestions:

  • Instead of having a reservation policy the emphasis of the government should be on building good schools so that the poor have an opportunity to study.
  • A person must be given the basic necessities of life – nutrition, clothing, shelter, medical facilities etc.
  • These must be provided at nominal rates through fair price shops catering specifically to the economically backward of this country.
  • For the rural inequality, the solution lies in bridging the gap between rural and urban India which can be done in concentrating on the rural setup and providing them all the basic facilities.
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