May , 2023
Social Justice in International Perspective: An Overview
17:28 pm

Padma Shri Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The idea of social justice is, directly and indirectly, associated with human equality. In the concept of social justice, it emerges prominently that all people, women, or men, should be considered equal in the social sphere without distinction of place-region, gender, class-caste, colour or language.  Since man is a social animal, the role of society, therefore, in the smooth functioning of human life is decisive. A respectable life, and stepping forward on the pathway of progress in life depends on a fair and justice-based social order. That is why; the principle of social justice is also associated in one way or the other with the equal attainment of all the basic facilities necessary for life. The cultural, religious and economic walks of life are also associated with the larger social sphere. Therefore, these areas have also been, and are associated, in some form or the other, with social justice related ideas and concepts, which have astonished human minds across the globe. Generally, this is the essence of the ideas or concepts that have emerged from time-to-time around the world in the context of social justice.

According to a report of the year 2020-2022 of the ‘International Labor Organization’, about four billion people in the total population of the world are lacking social justice. In the report of the ‘Task Force of Justice’ a few years back it was revealed that approximately two-thirds of the total population of the world (about five billion and one hundred million people) are deprived of getting equal justice.

In India, more than thirty million cases related to injustice are pending in the courts. More than seventy-five thousand cases are registered in the form of complaints only in the ‘National Human Rights Commission’. From a report of the ‘National Crime Records Bureau’, issued some time ago, it came to the light that more than one hundred thousand cases were registered with it only during one year. About one third of such cases were related to Dalits. Use of violence against them was noticed. Thus, those cases were directly related to social violence and eventually social injustice. The rest of the cases were related to murders, communal strife, family feuds, misconducts, malpractices, etc., and ultimately, in a way or the other, to a situation of social injustice.

It means, in this regard India’s situation is, more or less, the same; definitely, not good. Overall, the topic of social justice is a burning global issue. Therefore, it is also the subject of international attention.

My own viewpoint in relation to social justice is in consonance with the general global perspective indeed. Going further, I have even mentioned in many of my articles and lectures on national-international foras from time-to-time that the subject of social justice is, in reality, directly associated with the most important aspect of life, and that aspect, undoubtedly, is human equality. In relation to the essence of the purpose of his life, a leading humanist of his era like Mahatma Gandhi, who throughout his life fought for the freedom, human rights and justice, had also said, “My central aim is equal treatment for the whole of humanity and that equal treatment means equality in service.” 

We ourselves have started discussion on the theme in hand with equality, i.e., associating it with social equality. But my viewpoint is a little bit different from others in a way that I, like subjugation and abuse of rights, accept social injustice as one of the aspects of inequality.

Equality is the most valuable ornament of human life. The other three very important aspects of life, i.e., freedom, rights and justice are related to this. Although all these four are inextricably linked with each-other, equality is the paramount. 

We all go by the principle that all human beings are equal. All are emanated from the One and the Same source. All are part of the One Indivisible Whole, which is the only universal truth confirmed by the Mantras of the Hiranyagarbha Sukta of the Rigveda, and even the ‘Big Bang Theory’ of science. But, dealing with this veracity…? Perhaps, it is the most difficult task!

Violent tendencies (though temporary) like jealousy and competition existing in human beings provoke them to violate the principle of natural homogeneous equality and to overtake others unrightfully. That is why; man, individually and in group, aspires to get more than others. For this, he tries his prosperity and happiness by exploiting fellow beings individually and in the group or groups. This, in fact, is the root cause of all problems, from the individual to the global level. This is also the cause of inequality and, at the same time, subordination, infringement of rights of others and injustice.

The result of this situation, which has been going on for centuries, is that approximately five billion people are still subjected to injustice despite setting one record after another of development in every sphere of life. As most of such people do not see any possibility of justice for them, they, therefore, do not even make any effort for this. About forty million are victims of physical slavery and twelve million are stateless.

How to end injustice or how to reduce it to the lowest possible level? It is the question before us to discuss.

We all know that international organizations are working in this regard at the global level. National level efforts are also being made through statutory measures and arrangements. All such efforts are important and welcome too.

But, at the same time, to get rid of this problem, or to bring it to the minimum level, the duty-bound morality, which itself is indispensable for the appropriate and smooth conduction of the system up to the universal level, is more important than the legal measures and arrangements. The truth of the Indivisible Totality urges man to follow dutybound morality. It calls upon him to accept the reality of ‘self-welfare in the welfare of all’. The true principle of equality is also based on this. Therefore, not taking duty-bound morality lightly, it is the responsibility of all those who are concerned about social justice and really wish to do something in this direction, to make concrete efforts to awaken the people to follow it.

Realizing the reality of equality, behaving accordingly is a call of the truth of the Indivisible Totality and Universal Unity. Thus, it is also the first duty of a human being and the way to resolve the problem of social injustice or bring it to the minimum level. By realizing and embracing this call while accepting the principle of social justice associated with human equality, the problem can be solved to a large extent. By embracing, I mean equality-based behaviours or practices. 

Society does not belong to any one community or class. It needs all classes and communities to grow and evolve together. No social group can flourish if its members are not holding each other’s hand. And respecting everybody’s right to justice and equality, is what makes a society rich in every aspect. 

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