Remove barriers for social justice

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Remove barriers for social justice

Monday, 20 February 2023 | Bandaru Dattatraya

Remove barriers for social justice

Social justice as enshrined in the constitution is the cornerstone of our political setup. We have done a lot but still have a long way to go

Social justice is at the core of our collective resolve and action to achieve wholesome growth by reaching the last mile and leaving no one behind! The 2023 World Day of Social Justice is suitably themed on ‘Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice’ which is in sync with the global efforts to build an inclusive socio-economic and political order through fostering dialogue with all stakeholders, ensuring empowerment of all through inclusion. Though an integral part of human development and discourse since time immemorial, the need for social justice has been greatly felt in view of the economic and social crises of recent years!

There is near unanimity among experts that without taking care of the downtrodden with a multilateral set of actions and interventions to provide them with an inclusive ambiance, sustainable development is not possible. The challenge is not only to deliver and bring solutions to people’s daily problems but to empower them holistically. For this, we need to address a multitude of problems such as poverty, gender inequality, unemployment, human rights abuse, social protection to weaker sections of society, and adopting a fulsome inclusive approach without any discrimination.

As we talk of social justice, I am tempted to refer to some of the prominent observations made by the renowned Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda who strongly felt that the real cause of India’s backwardness was the neglect and exploitation of the masses who produced the wealth of the land and the subjugation of women. “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.” Our Puranas and philosophies teach us many valuable things about human relations and justice. They teach us that there is divinity in every human being. However, in practice, we give better treatment to our pets than those who belong to the lower strata of society. We still hear of painful incidents of untouchability where people are not allowed to enter temples.

Many social reformers like Shri Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, Shri Basaveshwar, Shri Aurobindo Ghosh, Rajaram Mohan Roy, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi, and Shri Veeresalingam Pantulu dedicated their lives for the upliftment of the downtrodden. They succeeded to a great extent but not fully. Social justice is linked to social equality and poverty eradication. In our country, SCs, STs, and OBCs have faced a lot of inequalities in the past decades. It is a fact that they do not get proper education, employment, and health facilities. There is no dearth of merit among them. The first and foremost example is the life of Dr. BR Ambedkar. Dr. Ambedkar hailed from a very humble background but he studied with great persistence and received three doctorates from three of the best universities in the world. The Constitution he wrote has proved a milestone in our endeavors for empowerment through inclusion. 

I am glad to share that social justice is one of the cornerstones of the Government of India under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. Seven priorities of the Union Budget – Saptarishi – consist of inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power, and the financial sector.

The Central government will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students over the next three years. The development of more than 14,500 schools across the country as PM SHRI Schools will nurture holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key 21st-century skills. Providing quality education to rural children through model schools will enhance their chances of growing equally with the rest of society. The Central government is taking steps to modernize model schools across the country to match the standards of Central Vidyalayas.

 Similarly, 157 new nursing colleges are to be established in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014. The outlay for the PM Awas Yojana is being enhanced by 66 percent to over Rs 79,000 crore. A one-time new small savings scheme-Mahila Samman Savings Certificate - has been announced in the Union Budget 2023-24, which will offer a deposit facility of up to Rs 2 lakh in the name of women or girls for the tenure of 2 years up to March 2025 at a fixed interest rate of 7.5 percent.

As India marches ahead to lead the world in ensuring cultural, social, and economic resilience for shared prosperity, we need to work harder to build a better social order. Efforts should also be made to ensure due representation of SCs, STs, OBCs,  in jobs in different fields.

The idea of the last mile development encompasses the well-being of all sections of society – culturally, socially, educationally, and politically. It is true that all five fingers cannot be equal but we have to ensure that they are equally powerful and respected by all. No social group can be discriminated against on the basis of their caste, religion, and affluence. Efforts should be initiated to make the poor richer by giving them the best facilities and opportunities.

(The writer is the Governor of Haryana. The views expressed are personal)

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