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Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with special focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar

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Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with special focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar
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  Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar   { 37 } Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus onGandhi and Ambedkar   Ambikesh Kumar Tripathi    'Social- Justice' is the central issue of present day’s politics, economics, sociology, social philosophy, jurisprudence and the allied studies. Dealing with social justice, very first I will discuss abouttraditional concept of justice. Justice is more a matter of individual feeling than a matter of physicalexperience. 1 Justice is also related with time and circumstances. What was to be just in the past is nolonger considered to be so. For example, owning slave was just in ancient Greece and Rome, but inmodern age it will be a crime against to humanity. Thus justice is a changeable concept. It is changeableaccording to time and place. Justice reflects a pattern of social norm and values and the individual conductis to be evaluated on its basis. In this sense justice becomes the criterion for judging the individuals in asociety. According to D.D. Rapheal, "  Justice is the foundation of social morality, and is concerned withthe general ordering of society ." 2  In dealing with the concept of social-justice, it is essential to distinguish between the traditionalidea of 'justice' and modern idea of 'social justice'. The idea of social justice, however, is relatively recentsrcin and largely a product of the modern social and economic developments. The traditional concept of  justice, variously described as conservative or orthodox concept, focused on the qualities on 'just' (orvirtuous) man, while the modern concept of social justice postulates a 'just-society'. 3   The Ancient Greek and Hindu Approach of Justice In ancient Greek and Hindu approach, the justice concerned with functioning of duties, not withnotion of rights. Both Plato and Aristotle hold the state to be prior to the individual. Plato, in particular,identifies justice with the performance of duties befitting one's class. Plato's theory of justice which sought toprescribed duties of different citizens and required them to develop virtues befitting those duties. For Plato,  justice is the highest virtue of society. He believed that the "principle of division of labor, that each man and more specially each class, should do that work, for which he is fitted and no other...(is)... justice ." 4  Aristotle does not deal with justice in the 'Politics'  directly. Aristotle believes that the last end of  the state is to provide the good life to its citizen. He wrote, “While it (the Polis) is groups for the sake of  mere life, it exists for the sake of  good life.” 5  In ancient Indian tradition, we found two terms, namely 'Dandaniti' and 'Dharma', which concernwith justice. 'Dandaniti' is very much close to modern notions of justice (Law and punishment). It issuggests to legal aspect of justice. Dharma is another name of code of duties and justice is nothing butvirtuous conduct with dharma. Thus, like Platonic justice, the Hindu tradition linked justice withperformance of duties prescribed by dharma. Modern Approach to Justice: In modern times basically two approaches, on justice, are in central debate. One is Liberal approach and second is Marxist approach. Liberal’s argument is, the individual’s rights and liberty are necessary for just society. While the Marxist approach rely upon the equality for just society. They believethat unless and until the existing inequalities in society will not be removed, society will not be just. But inthe contemporary political philosophy, liberty vs. equality debate about justice has been over. Thecomposition of justice is liberty, equality and rights. Barker regards justice as a synthesis of differentvalues necessary for an organized system of human relation. Liberal Approach of Justice  In modern liberal thought "justice" is defined in terms of rights of individuals. The rights of individuals flow from law and the state is limited by these rights. So in liberal tradition, justice becomes a disposition to give everyone’s his rights (or his due).  The liberals lay emphasis on liberty of individual in all spheres of life; their main concern is withpolitical justice. Their formula for economic justice is 'laissez faire' or free market economy. The modernliberal view of justice developed in the writings of John Locke, Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Spencer and  Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi  Shodh Drishti, Vol. 3, No. 7, October-December, 2012 ISSN : 0976-6650   { 38 } Adam Smith. More recently its development, we can see, in the writings of Nozick, Ralws, Hayak and etc.The rights of individual were the core issues of Locke's political philosophy. It has been remarkedthat Locke was an individualist. He believed that the protection of individual rights, and preservation of thecommon good were one and the same thing. Thus, liberal political theory regards, justice as the function of rights and rights are the creation of law. Marxist Approach of Justice Marxist believes that the state is class organization. In the ' Communist Manifesto'  , Marx and Engelsdeclared that the history of human society is the history of class-struggle. In the capitalist society, as Marxistbelieves, "there is a democracy that is curtailed, wretched false, and a democracy only for the rich, for theminority." 6 The entire super structure, laws, moralities, law-courts, police force are all designed to rain-forcethe supremacy of the dominant class. In this society justice is simply the interest of the economicallydominant, the bourgeoisie, and its interest lies in the perpetual exploitation of the proletariat.According to Marxist approach, the source of injustice is the private ownership on the means of production, which create the social divisions into bourgeoisie and proletariat. The abolition of privateproperty will inevitably create a classless society and result in the withering away of the state, and finally,the emergence of a communist society. And it will be the ideal state of justice. Concept of Social Justice The concept of social justice emerged out of a process of evolution of social norms, order, law andmorality. It laid emphasis upon the just action and creates intervention in the society by enforcing the rulesand regulations based on the principles of social equality.The term 'Social-Justice' consist by two words: one is social and second is  justice . The term'social' is concern with all human beings who lives in society and term 'justice' is related with liberty,equality and rights. Thus social justice is concerned with, to ensure liberty, provide equality and maintainindividual rights to every human being of society. In other words, to securing the highest possibledevelopment of the capabilities of all members of the society may be called social justice.But, the terms 'social justice' is very much elusive cannot capture empirically. Krishna Iyer 7 in hisbook  'Justice and Beyond'  has rightly proclaims " social justice is not an exact static or absolute concept,measurable with precision or getting into fixed world. It is flexible, dynamic and relative ." In fact, theemergence of just man, just action and just state of affairs in society seems to be a manifestation of social justice. MacCormick regards, " equal well-being of individuals as basis to social justice ." 8  Rousseau argued that men are equal by nature but the institution of private property has madethem unequal and further perpetuated inequalities. Therefore, the perfection of man lies in theimprovement of society that can be done by remarking man by cultivating natural feelings and sentimentswhich guarantee equality and social-justice. 9  The aim of social justice of reordering of the society so as to eliminate the source of injustice insocial relations, such as discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion, race, region etc. On other hand,social justice may require protective discrimination in favor of the downtrodden, underprivileged, weakersections of society.There so many definitions given by the various theorist of social justice. So it becomesproblematic to define it in common manner or common way. But, each conceptualization is concernedwith the distributive character for imparting justice.Frankena 10 has defined social justice as any system of distribution and redistribution which isgoverned by valid moral principles. For Frankena, the concept of just society should emphasize on theprinciples and practical aspect of social justice. Thus, he conceives social justice as a part of political justice that emphasizes to create just society. 11  In the view of former chief Justice of India Gajendragadkar, the concept of social justice has dualobjectives of 'removing all inequality' and affording equal opportunities and 'economic activities of all thecitizens. 12 His view also emphasize to equal distribution of economic goods and opportunities.John Rawls and Robert Nozick also emphasize on distributive character of justice. For Nozick historical entitlement is an important element of distributive justice where the society is aware of itswrongs and has an increased interest in compensation. Therefore, for him, backward looking concepts areimportant that address the distribution of goods in society as social justice. John Rawls conceptualizes  Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar   { 39 }  justice as fairness where there is desirability of advantage for the marginalized groups in some respect.In the border perspective, social justice deals with the regulation of wage, profits, protection of individual rights through the legal system of allocation of goods and resources. In different words social justice means availability of equal social opportunities for the development of personality to all the peoplein the society, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, sex or race. No one should be deprived,basis on these differences, because these are those condition which are essential for social development.Therefore, the issue of social justice is associated with social equality and individual rights. Social justice can be made available only in a social system where the exploitation of man by man is absent, andwhere privileges of the few are not built upon the miseries of the many. 13 The core element of social justiceis equal social worth which required that citizens be guaranteed certain social rights as well as the civil andpolitical rights.The idea of social justice demands freedom, equality and other human rights to secure to greatesthappiness and common good of human beings. But, Frankena says, the notion of social justice goesbeyond the principle of equality to the principle of agreements in society where there is non-injury, non-interference and non-impoverishment. For him, social justice is giving special attention to people though itmay entail any sense of inequality of treatment. 14 Finally, the core concept of social justice is, 'men areequal in their lives', they should enjoy equal freedom and rights in society. Thus the 'social justice is anintrinsic virtue of society'. M.K. Gandhi’s View of Social Justice   M.K. (1869-1948) did not address the question of justice such as other thinkers and philosophersdone. There is no discussion in his writings on the concept or the theory of social justice independently.Even then the justice is the parameters of all his ideas. Gandhi was pioneer of the movement for social justice in India. Before to Gandhi, poets, saints and social reformers had pay attention on the socialinjustice resulting from caste discriminations and from the practice of untouchability.Social justice is a multidimensional concept. Which is looking in Gandhi's various thought; such asin the concept of truth and non-violence, concept of Ramrajya, Swaraj, Sarvodaya, Satyagraha andTrusteeship theory. The philosophical notions of these theories of Gandhi provide the premise of the justsocial, economic and political order. In these contexts we can be seen Gandhi's conception of social justice.Gandhi's idea for decentralization of power and authority is one safeguard for individual freedom.Gandhi wrote in Harijan dated 26 July, 1942, "My idea of village swaraj is that it is complete republic,independent of its neighbors for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in whichdependence is a necessity." 15 Panchayat Raj was for Gandhi the arrangement for investing the people withlegitimate political authority to manage their affairs. It was also designed to free villages of the economicexploitation and political domination of the cities. Gandhi's Panchayati Raj safeguards the liberty of theindividual and of the village community as a whole for their full moral development.Gandhi laid emphasis upon human equality. He was aware that political institutions are relevantonly to the extent economic well being of the people and secure social justice to them. To quote Gandhi,"  Economic equality of my conception does not mean that everyone would literally have the same amount. In simply means that everybody should have enough for his or her needs...."  16    For economic justice Gandhiprovides five alternatives; they are followings:1.   Decentralisation of money and power,2.   Cottage and small scale industries,3.   Opposition of Consumerism,4.   Equal distribution and5.   Trusteeship.Gandhi suggested that, "It also means that the cruel inequality that obtains today will be removedby purely non-violent means." 17 Gandhi's passion for economic justice can be seen in his ideas of breadlabour, trusteeship and decentralised economy.Gandhi had implicit faith in varnashram dharma. He had believed the way to achieve completesocial equality and justice was that everyone observed his or her Varna dharma strictly in a spirit of dutyand service. For Gandhi, the ancient Vedic doctrine of four-fold social division of labour known as 'varna-dharma' is based on principle of "justice as fairness rather than equality." 18 According to Gandhi the  Shodh Drishti, Vol. 3, No. 7, October-December, 2012 ISSN : 0976-6650   { 40 } Varna-dharma and the caste are not one and the same. 19  Gandhi tried to fight out social injustice on four fronts: social moral, political, economic andeducational. On social plane, Gandhi started a crusade against untouchability and caste system by attackingthe very system, much against the will of Hindu orthodoxy and conservatism. He strongly criticizesuntouchabaility. In his words, "For the general persecution of the lower orders of Hinduism, especially theso-called untouchable, I am as a Hindu doing penance every movement of my life." 20 Another he wrote, "Ihave been saying that if untouchability stays Hinduism goes." 21 For Gandhi, removal of untouchabilitymeans love and service for the whole world, and it thus merges into ahimsa.Thus there are no a specific theory of justice in Gandhian thought, yet his theories of panchayatiraj, trusteeship, varnashram, Sarvodaya and Ram Rajya are strong evidence of his concern with theproblem of social justice. B.R. Ambedkar and Social Justice B.R. Ambedkar is one of the major spokesmen of the depressed classes in India. It is a fact thatBabasaheb Ambedkar did not propound any specific definition or theory of 'social-justice' per se.However, in the light of principles enshrined in the theory of social justice as propounded by Plato andRawls, one can infer basic cultural and structural principles of social justice embodied in the thoughts of Babasaheb Ambedkar. 22  Dr. Ambedkar was one of the pioneer of social justice is India. It was Ambedkar who providednew dimensions to the concept of justice. We regard him as the 'Champion of Social justice .' He washimself a victim of social injustice, faced its difficulties; and he not tolerated the injustice, but boldlyfought against them.Ambedkar had a liberal concept of justice. Like Gandhi, for Ambedkar, justice is simply anothername of liberty, equality and fraternity.' 23 In this sense the core value of Ambedkar concept of justice ishuman equality, equal distribution of welfare materials and discrimination less society. Thus, the spirit of social justice, according to Ambedkar gives a significant place to mutual sympathy and respect.Ambedkar was influenced by the writings of the world's great master of human equality andsympathy, Lord Budha. He was also influenced by John Dewy, Carlyl, Karl Marx, Kabir, Mahatma Phuleand other rationalists. Sympathy, equality and liberty are main constituents for the uplift of an individual.Hinduism is destitute of these, so Ambedkar conversed to Buddhism, because Buddhism comprisesequality, love, sympathy and fraternity.Ambedkar not only conceptualize the principles of social justice, but also operationalized themfor the uplift of the most marginalized sections of Indian society- the Dalits . For Ambedkar, equality is thesoul of a nation, soul of democracy; He proclaimed, "Equality may be fiction but nonetheless one mustaccept it as the governing principle." 24 After India's political freedom, for dispensing social justice in thewake of emerging democracy in a hierarchically arranged society, Ambedkar discussed theoperationalization of principles of equality, liberty and fraternity, which were considered to be the cardinalprinciples of any democracy. He argued that, " we must...not...be content with more political democracy.We must make sure our political democracy a social democracy as well."  25   In his own words, "What doessocial democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate itemsof trinity ." 26  Ambedkar played most significant role for the most marginalized community (untouchables) of Indian society. It is difficult to conceptualize the social justice in Indian society to untouchables withoutacknowledging the role of Ambedkar. He was also a victim of Hindu traditions. He was the first who sawthe problems of Dalits as citizen with specific social, economic and political rights. It is results of his effortthat the completely new type of consciousness emerged among the marginalized community.Ambedkar proved that the problems of Dalits were essentially political. Ambedkar opined, "  It iswrong to say that the problem of untouchables is social problem. For, it is quite unlike the problems of dowry, window remarriage, age of consent, etc., which are illustrations of what are properly called social problems. Essentially, it is a problem of quite a different nature in as much as it is a problem of securing,to a minority, liberty and equality of opportunity at the hands of a hostile majority which believes in thedenial of liberty and equal opportunity of the majority and conspires to enforce it policy on the minority,  Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar   { 41 } viewed in this light, the problem of the untouchables in fundamentally a political problem . 27 Ambedkaremphasized on acquiring political power for untouchables. He wanted to be assured that the untouchables(Dalits) would also have a share in self-government, as without it the 'self-government' would mean agovernment to rule over the already depressed class. Conclusion Justice in short, is about giving each person what he or she is 'due' often seen as his or her 'justdesserts'. In other sense justice can be applied to the distribution of any 'goods' in society: freedom, rights,wealth, leisure and so on. Justice is a changeable concept, according to time and circumstances. Social justice refers to a morally justifiable distribution of material or social rewards, notably wealth, income andsocial status. Many take social justice to imply equality, even viewing it as a specifically socialistprinciple. Due to definitions of social justice it becomes problematic to what is clear meaning of social justice. There are contradiction about the principle of social justice, but the practical aspect of social justiceconcern with the liberty equality and fraternity. References :   1.   Nilanjana Jain ; The Problem of Justice in Political Theory and State Practice; Anamika Publishers andDistributors, New Delhi, 2005, p.15.2.   D.D. Rapheal; Problems of Political Philosophy ; London Macmillan 1979, p.105.3.   O.P. Gauba;  Dimensions of Social Justice , National Publishing House, New Delhi, 1983, p.2.4.   A.D. Lindsay; Introduction; The Republic of Plato , p. XXXV.5.   The Politics; Aristotle, translated by E. Barker, Oxford University Press, 1962, p.5.6.   Lenin, The state and Revolution , p.109.7.   Krishna Iyer,  Justice and Beyond  , Deep and Deep Publication, New Delhi, 1982, p.63.8.   MacCormick   , Justice: An Unsrcinal Position , Oxford University Press, 1982, pp. 84-102.9.   'Globalization and Social Justice'  , ed. by P.G. Jogdand, P.P. Bansode, N.G. Meshram, Rawat PublicationsJaipur, 2008, pp.1-2.10.   W.K. Frankena, Quoted on Theme Paper 'Constitution of India in Percept and Practice'  (25-26 April, 1992)Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi, p. 4.11.   W.K. Frankena, 'The Concept of Social Justice', in Brandt Richard (ed.) Social Justice, New Jersy: PrinticeHall Inc., 1962, p. 2.12.   Gajendragadkar, 'Law Equality and Social Justice', Bombay Asian Publication, 1969, p. 47.13.   S. Waseem Ahamad and M. Ashraf Ali, 'Social Justice and The Constitution of India', From the IndianJournal of Political Science, Vol. LXVII, No.4, Oct. Dec. 2006, pp. 767-762.14.   W.K. Frankena, Ibid, 1962, p.17.15.   Quoted from J.S. Mathur and A.S. Mathur, author,  Economic Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Chaitanya,Allahabad, 1962, p.323.16.   'Harijan', 22 December 1933, p. 2.17.   'Harijan', 18 August 1940, p.253.18.   Young India, Ch. XXXI.19.   There is nothing is common between Varnashram and Caste. Caste is undoubtedly a drag upon Hinduprogress, Yung India , 20 Oct. 1927 p. 355, also see, "varna has nothing to do with caste. Caste is an excrescence..... Upon Hinduism” young India , 24 Nov. 1927, p.390.20.   Young India , 17 Nov. 1927, p.384.21.    Harijan , 29 Aug. 1936, p.226.22.   Globalization and Social Justice , ed. by P.G. Jogdand, P.P. Bansode, N.G. Meshram, Rawat PublicationsJaipur, 2008, p.10723.    Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writing and Speeches , Vol. 3, 1987, p.2524.   Quoted form,  Ambedkar and Social Justice ed. by A.K. Majumdar and Bhanwar Singh, Radha Publication,New Delhi, 1997, p.2625.   Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches , Vol. 13, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, 1994. p.216.26.   Ibid, p. 216.27.   What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables " in Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings andSpeeches, Vol. 9, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, 1991, pp. 190-91.     
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