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Social Justice in India

Social justice is the foundation of the Indian Constitution, created in November of 1949. The creators of the Constitution wanted to incorporate forms of justice throughout the document to fulfill everyone’s needs. A well-known quote from one of the writers explains, “First work of this assembly is to make Indian independent by a new constitution through which starving people will get complete meal and clothes and each Indian will get the best option that he can progress himself”. Ninety-five percent of the population of India lived at a sub-human level for ages, including Dalits, untouchables, OBCs, and women. The goal of the Indian Constitution was to create equal treatment of all citizens regardless of class, color, race, religion, or sex. It promises liberty of thought and justice in all forms.

However, while the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex, there is still an unequal treatment towards women culturally. Parents prefer sons over daughters, who are seen as an economic burden. There is an imbalanced gender ratio due to abortions of female fetuses. The enforcement of specific equal rights laws are also weak, including the right to some types of property. Political representation is low for women, create a bias in legislation that is passed. A huge issue for Indian women is rape. Under the Indian Penal Code, it is seen as a crime against women, but it has a vague definition and perpetrators often do not get caught or punished. Most rapes go unreported due to cultural stigmas that would bring shame to the victim and her family. Reported rapes become dehumanizing for the victim. There is no special police or doctor training for rape cases, a leniency in conviction, and a culture of victim blaming. The lack of support for women is damaging to the modernization of India.

The women that typically endure this are Dalits—the lowest caste of Indians, formerly known as “untouchables”. Though the Constitution banned discrimination based on caste, Dalits still face systematic discrimination. In general, Dalits are looked down upon and do not have the respect of other classes. Also, India is one of the most religiously intolerant countries—the country does not practice the right to religious freedom as the Constitution states. Overall, while India does not legally permit discrimination and the recent society is even founded upon the idea of social justice, citizens themselves do not adhere to equal rights laws and systematic social prejudice is a large issue.