Go Back to the Idea of Social Justice

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The Subject of social justice evokes strong emotions in India, from all sections of society and political class. But while the issue is of critical importance in a country as big and diverse as India and as disintegrated and divided society as the Indian society, the entire concept has been dealt in an extremely caricatured way that has mostly left out real problems. It must however not be allowed to be that way.

The degradation and rigidities of Indian society has left out many communities out of mainstream for being of low caste who have traditionally lived at the periphery of the Indian social order. They were not only not allowed to be part of socio-economic and political mainstream, but also ill-treated at a human level. Needless to say, such subhuman existence of such communities needed radical improvement by active governmental intervention.

Caste based reservation which was taken up as a temporary mechanism, was the answer of government to the call of social justice. Unfortunately, job reservations became the single point program of government for upliftment of disadvantaged sections of society. Even today, all calls of social justice for any community are made only for want of reservation in government jobs. Pertinent questions here is, how much have job reservations helped backward communities at large?

The structure of job reservation is such that only a tiny number of people benefit at the expense of overwhelming majority of socially disadvantaged society. Unfortunately, reservations have served as an easy way out for successive governments who have shied away from any groundbreaking work to lift the lot of large number of people. The system has become so rigid now that even the question of creamy layer is a strict no go area. Politicians of all hues are too scared to speak anything against this mechanism of social justice. Even after observations of the Supreme Court, reservations have failed to fully incorporate the economic backwardness as the base of job reservations.

Result is that the ground situation of most of the disadvantaged communities remains what it was half a century ago. This is because entire focus of governments have gone in offering freebies in form of jobs reservations instead of empowering communities through improved education and healthcare. Even today, every hour, atrocities are committed on Dalit communities and hardly any justice prevails for them, social or legal. Primary reason is that they are not strong enough to resist and fi ght for their rights. And all the while, political class has only used their plight for garnering votes.

But justice is required not just for certain castes; many sections of society are in bad condition and need compassionate governmental attention. Be it LGBTs, street children, or old people with no income, these are all part of our society and need justice which must not be denied to them because they do not belong to certain community and are not large enough a group to be counted as vote banks. The concept of social justice must not be so narrow to leave out such vulnerable sections of society. There is a need for a relook at the way social justice has been perceived and tackled in India if social justice has to prevail in true sense.

This past month, India lost its most beloved public personality. APJ Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of the country and one of the most important persons in the nuclear and missile development program of the country, fired the imagination of the country with his lofty ideals, grit, dedication and simplicity. Very few Presidents have had such a fan following among general masses. It is incumbent upon us to incorporate his ideals in our lives to make India a great nation it deserves. That would be real tribute to the Missile Man.