The modern-day setup of countries and governments palliative to the majority class, and the young contrarians and radicalists almost reverential to the minority class is an interesting clash of styles the observant spectator gets to witness as we near the end of yet another decade. Let there be no doubts, there is little pursuit of justice in either agenda. It has only progressed, diminutively I dare say, into a standoff with the very existence of their ideologies at stake, lest one overwhelm the other.
Debate, and by extension, politics, is at its very best about the bare minimum of two opposing sides, toppling worlds and mores with their fiery oratory and scintillating altruism; and at its worst, about two buffoons braying at each other out of their obligation to defend the stand they chose at the commencement of the farce. Without providing telling examples, the discerning reader is perhaps already aware whether Indian politics more closely resembles the senate of patrician Rome or the great pastures of West Uttar Pradesh, home to the herbivorous beasts of burden.
It is easy to cherry pick flavour of the month topics and pick them apart only to discover countless faults in the governance and general management of logistics, resource distribution and apathy. It is a much harder ordeal to try and tackle the issue of why these same topics remain staple flavour of the months for about the past thirty years now. Surely the abundance of freely available material from bloggers and essayists would have, by this time, done something to quell the discomfort of the millions pondering over this question?
My answer is hypothetical, but convincing. It has been said that human evolution is only borne out of strife, and differing ideals that conflict to give way to new permutations previously unimagined. Joining hands and working towards one cause then, is against this philosophy. If, one party promises to lend their help to one section of the society, it is easier for another aspiring party to find another troubled customer instead of quarrelling over the rights to represent the people already claimed. After all, one man’s justice is another man’s injustice.
Reservation, is a fine working example. It is no less than a universal truth that reservation is the bane of free competition. It makes a level playing field inaccessible to the vox populi and caters to a certain minority for reasons, in this case, pertaining to the cruel treatment of their ancestors. In this regard, what is justice? Is it to continue pandering towards a section simply based on their genealogy, or is it to open the gates to an influx of people who are undoubtedly meritorious, but perhaps are able to be so because they didn’t have to start from the bottom like the reserved category did.
Moreover, it is unthinkable for an opposition party to ever agree to even one postulate of the party in power. It literally does not matter, what their agenda was in the past, or what they planned to make it in the present. If the ruling party makes a statement, it becomes a divine mandate for the opposition to dissent against it. If they do not, on what grounds will they come to power? Logic is submerged in hypocrisy and all good intentions smeared in the race to elections. With a system as unstable as democracy, there are far too many impediments to social justice; at least in the utopian way people envision justice to be.
The truth of the matter is that, real justice in a population of billions is a compromise of privileges. Had this been a country like Liechtenstein, where the number of people are so few, that each of them can be individually catered to many times over, we wouldn’t be in this conundrum. In India, the only way to achieve this veritable ‘justice’ is to temporarily suspend another’s until an opposition party comes to power lobbying their cause. To illustrate, poverty is one of the recurring topics people clamour to solve. Money, is a finite resource. Modern economies know not to repeat the mistakes of the Weimar republic and print money as they see fit. So, the only method left is recirculation. To remove poverty, from a purely economic standpoint, is a matter of simplicity itself. The idea is to take the money from people who have lots of it, and redistribute it to people who don’t. If that seems like justice to the reader, then may I ask where is the justice in forcing the wealthy man to part with his wealth when he has worked hard to earn it in his life? Government grants are another way to tackle the problem. It was all the rage in the United States during the first world war. The poor were given food, money, clothing and shelter out of the government’s pocket and this among other things, caused a sudden depletion of government resources leading to the economic meltdown we know today as the Great Depression.
However, all this is not to say there aren’t injustices in the world that aren’t gray and aren’t purely what the word deigns to mean. To protest against crime – corruption, rape, terrorism is faultless and necessary. To tackle the socio-economic problems of what apparently cause injustice however, are well beyond the scope of modest straitjacket arguments, and a discussion for another day and for far more qualified men than I.
By Debopam Roy
Debopam Roy is an advocate at the Calcutta HC, and considers himself profoundly beholden, enthused and educated by the words of the late Christopher Hitchens.