“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” said Martin Luther King Jr., was an American activist and humanitarian. According to him, social injustice takes place when all citizens of a society are not entitled to the same rights and services. In November 2007, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly announced February 20 as the World Day of Social Justice. The motive behind celebrating Social Injustice Day is to proffer to the efforts of the global community in poverty eradication, promotion of full employment, gender equity and justice for all.
Social justice for all is at the core is a mission to promote development and human dignity. In addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and the Millennium Development Goals are two solid representations of the UN’s commitment to social justice.
Today, we are facing the biggest social problems that hamper our ability to focus our attention and develop and employ creative, strategic non-violent action plans that can eradicate unjust systems.
The United Nations considers social justice to be “an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.” These principles are sustained:
- When we promote gender equality or the rights of innate people and migrants.
- When we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, culture or disability.
Thus, Social Injustice supervenes with the retardation of one's peace of mind or peace within the society. In this context, Johan Galtung, known as the father of peace studies, said that peace can be distinguished in two types: Negative peace and positive peace.
- Negative peace is simply the condition under which there is an absence of violence, including wars and attacks.
- Positive peace, however, also requires the absence of violence but also needs to be analyzed more deeply. Positive peace can only be attained when we identify and prevent the root causes of the violence in order to end violence and wrong policies/practices that rouse it. It is the condition under which a more just and equitable society can be secured for all and helps in the integration of human society.
This reflects that positive peace can serve as a big umbrella for all the members of society. It brings together people of many different faiths, religion, race, caste, sex and traditions.
Social Justice in India
In India, social injustice prevails to the greater extends. The casteism, racism, poverty, unequal distribution of money, child labor, gender inequality, female feticide, child marriage, violence against women and assaults to women are neglected. The government's efforts to attain women's and child's rights lacks efficiency.
If we talk about gender injustice, women in India are much neglected. They are not provided quality education; hence they are pushed to follow discriminatory family codes and culture stigmas. Many are facing mental and physical violence at both workplace and home. India has become the country of rapes but India's government and judiciary are not taking essential steps to eradicate such issues. The injustice on women’s rights in India is similar to the Black's rights. The blacks were treated as lower class by the whites. They did not get to have the same opportunities as the whites did. Same as the Indian women who are treated worse by the men and do not get to have the same opportunities as the men.
Secondly, poverty also falls under the category of social injustice. There are specific classes in society which stick to their privileges and refuse to share their assets with others, even when millions of people live in misery and perpetually groan under the burden of unfair practices, unjust policies and gross inequalities. In India, the gap between rich and poor is increasing, hampers our economic development.
In India, here and there, people are screaming for reservations. Those who demand say that they belong to backward class and reservation is their right. But has it benefited the society? Despite the reservation, inequalities broaden in most areas of human activity and the endless discrimination against the weaker sections of society. This is because those who claim for reservation are powerful and those who really need it, even don't know about these privileges- the most backward classes who work hard for daily bread, even don't think about gaining primary education. Thus, reservations assured to the weaker sections of society, have not benefited the really needy people.
If we dig into the core, we will see that corruption is the root cause of all the social injustices taking place in our nation. Corruption itself is a form of exploitation, because people holding key positions extort money in the form of bribes and services. It makes total nonsense of "equality of opportunity" guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. Only those who have money can give bribes and get their work done.
A Step towards Achieving Social Justice
Social justice can be achieved when universal human rights are recognized and upheld, without discrimination, for every individual, group and community. This type of justice is served when the inherent dignity of all citizens is respected and protected and every man, woman and child has equal and has access to basic human needs.
It is our moral and civic responsibility. As we challenge and work to end longstanding injustices, we should remember a major principle of peace education: peace and justice are interconnected and interdependent– working for peace must go hand in hand with working for justice and vice versa.
There can be no justice without peace. And there can be no peace without justice.
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