Politics claims so much of the state's attention, mostly for the wrong rather than the right reasons that social justice or lack of it gets sidelined in the national psyche. Unless turbulent events take place sending shockwaves throughout society, our minds wouldn't be sufficiently exercised on manifestly unjust social behaviour and practices that many fall victim to.
Social justice is a broad spectrum in its scope, definition and relevance. It is an article of faith with the Constitution but still remains a goal to be realised, even though it is more than 40 years since our national independence.
Manifestations of discrimination based on caste, race (small ethnic groups) and gender tend to perpetuate a we-they differentiation, sometimes subliminally, at times blatantly. Those who have to endure social injustice for being a minority, 'weaker' and 'disadvantaged' need affirmative action from the state and the private actors to protect them. A society that fails to be inclusive is by definition an unequal, undemocratic construct.
The 8th amendment making Islam the state religion is a deviation from secularism. Although the 15th amendment 'restored secularism as a fundamental principle of state policy', the retention of state religion provision waters down the commitment to secularism.
It is worthwhile to note 'the constitutional guarantee of a fundamental right against discrimination does not afford adequate protection due to several internal limitations within the scope of the rights,' argues a prominent civil rights watcher. The second part of her contention is quite convincing that 'rights against discrimination can be enforced against the state; private actors have no express constitutional obligation not to discriminate'. The search for an adequate recipe is clearly on.
Social justice received a setback in the Ramu affairs darkened by the evil hand of communal vandalism where centuries-old Buddhist temples were ransacked and damaged. The attack was a glaring example of violation of freedom of religion, movement and entitlement to state protection.
The Delhi gang-rape case not only convulsed the Indian society it has triggered condemnation throughout the world. A social movement has to be waged against the entrenched patriarchal values in South Asian societies. But the 'onus of responsibility for rape and sexual molestation is placed squarely on women by blaming for what they wear, where or with whom they are, what time of the day or night it is'. Such attitudes have to change from within, not from without. Gender sensitisation talks have begun at schools and colleges in the Indian capital -- 'a small start has been made', still a long way to go.
Anomalies in the legal system that deny justice to rape victims would have to be set right, particularly that of subjecting the rape victims to tortuous questioning.
Shifting the focus on more behind-the-scenes aspects, effectiveness and quality of investigation and speedy trial of the offenders are basic prerequisites for containing rape.
From eliminating corporal punishment in Bangladesh through plight of Shi'as in the context of religious intolerance against them in Pakistan to significance of Ekushey to Bangladesh's social dynamics, the issue, as usual, is fairly rich.