Social Justice as a concept is based on equal distribution of Justice, it was first recognized by a Sicilian priest priest Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, and given prominence by Antonio Rosmini Serbati in La Costitutione Civile Secondo la Giustizia Sociale in 1848. In modern times, it can be referred from Article 1 of the UDHR, which is central to the functioning of the United Nations, and recognizes that equality is the core value that lies at the very root of human dignity. In the Indian Constitution it finds place significantly in the Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.
Social Justice as a concept in India is related most specifically with equal distribution of rights without discrimination of gender, caste, creed or economic status. The one main setback to this idealistic concept of Social Justice is Corruption. Corruption in India is as varied and is as diverse as our culture. However, is it a drawback to achieving Social Justice or is it supportive of a different kind of Social Justice.
As per the report of Transparency International, India is ranked 87th out of 178 Countries of the world[i]. This is evident from daily news stories throughout the country, scams, sting operations etc are all evidence that Corruption is rampant. Daily instances of the common-man having to shell out money in order to avoid a traffic ticket or to get a simple birth certificate made are what sustain corruption.
One of the many reasons, the common man is involved in corrupt practices is because he has been disappointed by the long and cumbersome procedure that he has to go through as per the system, most of the times without achieving his result .Hence, the common man of today is more willing to pay bribe for the admission of his child in a private school then the common man in his place 10 years ago.
This is due to heightened privatisation of the education system and the disability of the government to bring up standard educational institutions. A lot has changed in our democracy, especially the mentality of the people, the primary reason for this is weak regulation and non-existent laws. Such breakdown of system inevitably pushes persons to find an unofficial way to get the job easily done.
According to the paper by Mr. Maxim Mironov[ii], Corruption can be described as Good or Bad, his model is based on the efficiency of the government in spending and the level of the rule of law. He simply states that if the Government uses budget funds inefficiently, wastes them in funding projects which can be dealt by the private sector, low government effectiveness, corruption in tax collection itself leaves more money in the private sector of the economy. Then corruption through Tax evasion is considered good and is somewhat justified since the money saved from the inefficiency of the government could be used for the growth of the economy. According to his paper, India classifies as a nation with idiosyncratic corruption, meaning poor judiciary system, poor contract enforceability and property rights.
Harold J. Lasky had remarked “that the more equal are the social rights of citizens, the more likely they are to be able to utilize their freedom in realms worthy of exploration.” However, the meaning of what Mr. Lasky has said is completely different as per the situation today. The common people have been deprived of their equal social rights, have been let down by the government machinery and are now “utilizing their freedom in realms worthy of exploration” i.e Jugaad.
The purpose of social justice a long long time ago, was to maintain or to restore equilibrium in the society and to envisage equal treatment of equal persons in equal or essentially equal circumstances. The social solidarity was to be brought about by the concept of social justice.
As per this idea of social justice, the reservation system was set up, quota was introduced upto 50% in public institutions. All this was done inorder to give an equal chance of participation, to the weaker sections of society. Despite protests of such a high percentage of reservation, the government continued forward with this, leading to the cropping up of various private engineering/medical institutions offering a flimsy future to their students. Many believe that the introduction of such a system has compromised the future of this nation.
Due to the presence of callousness and irresponsibility by the highest authority in the country and their unaccountability, the common man doesn’t blink an eye while handing the bribe under the table. This has led to a new era in social justice, where persons are asking for greater accountability of the government and the judiciary before they put themselves up on the stand.
[ii] Mr. Maxim Mironov, Bad Corruption, Good Corruption and Growth
Tanya Sharma and Radhika Misra
Students, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]