Category Archives: social justice

Social Justice Through Health Care

Pardeep Kumar Sharma asked:


We hardly come across a person who may be fully satisfied with the health care delivery system run by either the government or the private sector. This is true not only for developing but for all the developed countries as well. Every law abiding, contributing individual has some legitimate expectations from the state. Disenchantment with present dispensation of health care compels people to seek better options across the borders. Even the present flow rate of patients from developed to developing countries has assumed the proportions of Medical tourism. Medical tourism is not a one-way traffic. Poor from India are known to visit Rashid Hospital at Lahore for kidney transplants. Medical tourism will definitely bring in world class equipment and services in our corporate hospitals. These corporate tertiary care hospitals can act as excellent referral hospitals. Lack of enough clinical material, as the patients are often referred to in medical parleyences is prompting the doctors from developed world into medical adventurism. Very recently two NGO’s headed by renowned plastic surgeons of Indian origin were in India, claiming to their credit hundreds of cleft lip and palate surgeries conducted in one week. During my brief interaction when I asked them one basic question that how do you justify single step surgery by a single specialist for a clinical entity that require 3-5 set up surgeries by 10 specialists over a period of 20 years, there was no answer. On record local doctors conduct all these surgeries. These NGO’s bring in a battery of trainee resident doctors for hands on training. Dumping of questionable services and drugs continues unabated in the absence of stringent regulations. Clear-cut up to date guidelines by health authorities have yet to be issued to safe guard the health interests of this nation. Most of the drugs banned in developed countries are still being dumped in the Indian market. Commerce alone dictates the policies of multinational companies in health sector of developing countries. State and national medical councils, the watch dogs of our national health interests are controlled by elected representatives from among the doctors. Competitive populism for being elected to these high offices takes away the very sting off these regulators. In this ‘market forces’ driven health sector, apart from other factors, size of the population, economic prosperity and literacy levels dictate the out look of key players. Subjective as well as objective assessments of the health care operations leave people confused with huge piles of data and endless interpretations. At the tail end of govt. health care delivery system is the rural dispensary or the slum revamping center, and the end user an illiterate or semi literate villager or a slum dweller. Dispensary is the humane face, the welfare state can present to its people. In yesteryears the service providers were from among the same social class they used to serve. Doctor can be a friend, philosopher and guide to the locals. Unfortunately the economic and social disparity between the service providing doctors and the service user population has grown enormously. Ad-hocism in health care delivery should be done away with immediate effect. Doctors and paramedical staff appointed on yearly contract basis are not showing any interest in the national programmes. Established private health care providers also have not shown any meaningful commitment for national programmes. Middle class itself has fragmented. Now it is fashionable to assign economic values to any issue like gender, but for social responsibility and justice. In this era of fast paced growth, the unorganized, silently suffering millions can not be wished away. Once reading on biodiversity I stumbled upon a very interesting quote, “only the species with economic importance will survive”. In our active pursuit for magnetizing economy, we assigned economic values to any thing except for morals. Commercialization of education has produced a new breed of professionals who have scant regard for professional ethics. Privatization is the buzzword with governments, because it takes away government responsibility. Private sector players are eyeing many ‘viable’ health institutions. There are no takers for commercially non-viable rural institutions. Rural health institutions dispense social medicine. Very recently one of the key players from private sector health care quoted the cost of developing one bed in corporate hospital at Rs. 30-60 lacs. These corporate health services are definitely out of each of the common man. These type of hospitals are definitely required for a nation with the present rate of growth but ‘bharat’ definitely needs different kind of hospitals. There are very strong social under currents against the exploitive private healthcare, inadequate government sector health care resources and the indifferent approach of welfare state. Health for all is a very lofty but expensive proposition. There are ways and means to reduce the pressure from government institutions. Private-public partnership, health insurance, monitoring and regulation of private sector health care can all make the things bit easy. Preventive health care education can go a long way in improving the public health. Community participation in health care has produced few but wonderful examples. Complementary community participation can make up for minor but critical deficiencies in the government run health care system. Setting up of health system corporations with World Bank assistance has already improved the working of govt. sector health care institutions considerably. Community participation through NGO’s can still improve the system, but most of the meaningful NGO’s turn their back on govt. run health care institutions because of their doubts on the integrity of government officers. Government health care institution are increasingly seen not as caring hospitals but like police stations, where medico legal reports are written and postmortems conducted. Most of the government doctors’ time is spent in courts appearing as medico legal experts witnesses. Emergency, post mortem, and then the VIP duties in addition hardly leave the doctors free for any meaningful job at government hospitals. There is an urgent need to have separate curative, preventive, legal, administrate and health intelligence wings. Government hospitals attract the poorest of the poor, mostly people from the unorganized sector. Their contribution to national GDP is by no means small. With the present growth rate, upward social mobility is seen in every strata of society. Many segments of this unorganized sector can be organised so that they also enjoy the patronage of welfare state in the form of health insurance policies. Apart from direct benefit to these segments of society, the state will benefit from the ‘off loading’ of burden from government run health care system and loading it on insurance driven private sector health care institutions. Poorest of the poor will repose faith in welfare state. Sanjivini, health insurance policy with the Punjab Milkmen Cooperative Societies is already a big success. ECHS (Ex servicemen Contributory Health Scheme) is an other success story. These success stories can be replicated with countless groups like, panwallas, dhabewallas, autorikshaw drivers etc. Simply organize the unorganized sector. There is no dearth of role models from among government doctors also. Their inclusion rather than drift after dissent from the present dispensation of health care will immensely improve the system. Stability of tenure is an excellent incentive government can give to its doctors without costing anything to exchequer. Yet tenure beyond decades should be discouraged as it leads to development of ves

ted interests of the old incumbents and denial of chance to the youngsters. Resource mismatching is a major problem in the govt. run health care system. There are dispensaries where specialists are posted and still many more civil hospitals where non-specialist are posted. These mismatching result in defective and inefficient health care. Nodal Hospitals can be created for round the clock emergency services by cannibalizing defunct and sick institutions where equipment worth crores is lying unused and salary bills are bleeding the exchequer white. Most of the medical officers retire in the same administrate rank. This undue stagnation has forced many a brilliant doctors out of service. By simply seeking options for place of posting, honestly implementing with minimum displacement on merit can also revitalize the govt. doctors’ cadres. Private sector health care delivery system is a totally market driven commercial enterprise. So called ‘market forces’ have least respect for ethical and moral value systems. Multi level marketing chains have evolved in the name of referral systems. End result is exploitation of the unsuspecting common man, who still regards his healer a holy person. This ‘incentive’ system is strengthening the hold of unqualified, unscrupulous and unregistered medical practitioners on illiterate masses. Not many qualified doctors are unscrupulous. A large section of private health care providers feel genuinely threatened by blackmailers of all sorts. Consumer protection act is a very convenient beating stick in the hands of their tormentors.

Under the constant threat of being blackmailed, the private health care providers are becoming more defensive in attitude. More patients are being referred to tertiary care institutions for this reason only, thereby flooding the referral institutions. People have a common feeling that sickness is an invitation for exploitation at the hands of private health care providers. Even the charitable hospitals are charging as heavily as fully private hospitals. Medical profession is fully responsible and capable of self-correction. Medical councils and associations can jointly evolve a fail-safe mechanism to keep their black sheep under check even without government help, but the buck stops with the government. Welfare state is duty bound not only in providing health care delivery system but also proper health care administration and social justice through its health care delivery mechanism.

Name : Dr. Pardeep Kumar Sharma

Email-ID :

(M) : 0988456296

Date of Birth : 12.02.1962

Education Qualifications : BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery)

MDS (Master of Dental Surgery in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery)

Educational Institutes Attended

Govt. High School Bargari : Matriculation (1969-1977)

Distt. Faridkot, Punjab, India

DAV College Chandigarh : Pre-University (1973-79)

(Punjab University)

Barjindra College Faridkot : Pre-Medical (1980)

Dental Wing, Medical College : BDS (1981-1986)


Dental College and Hospital : MDS (2003-2006)


Professional Experience

House Officer, Christian : 1987-1988

Medical College & Hospital,


Research Officer, All India : Jan. 1989 to June 1989

Institute of Medical Science

AIIIMS, New Delhi

Dental Officer, Indian Armed : July 1989 to August 1994.

Forces in the Rank of Capt.


Medical Officer (Dental) : w.e.f. Nov. 1995 till date

in Punjab Civil Medical Service


Research papers Published

“Role of Programmed cell death in dental anomalies associated with cleft lip and Palate”. “Medical Hypotheses” Churchil Living Stone Publishers London-1991

Post traumatic polatoglossal adhesion, a case report stomatologica India (1990).

Research Project Undertakes

“Malocclusion and associated Factors among Delhi Children” a study sponsored by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Areas of Interest : Environment, Health, Defence, International Affairs and Rationalism

Moral Law, Justice, and Evolution

Jerry Richard Boone asked:

We already mentioned intelligence. Remember in the article: How Do We Account for Instinct? we divided it up into two broad categories, one of which we call instinct and the other a type of decision-making ability? We grouped the lower forms of animals into the first category and humans into the second. Other creatures, we allowed, appear to operate using a combination of instinct and “thinking.”

But, of course, it is really more complicated than that. People have instincts too. The sexual drive, a mother’s love for her offspring, and a basic desire to survive are undeniable human instincts. Each of these traits are shared to one degree or another with animals. However, we seem to have something more than mere instinct.

Somehow or another we find ourselves with a moral sense of right and wrong. We feel as though we know somethings are right and others are wrong. But then again, is what we consider right and wrong merely a subjective whim? Or is it possible that there might be a real, honest-to-goodness, objective standard for good behavior?

Some people claim there’s no fixed standard for decent behavior. It varies over time and from one culture to another. Different civilizations and different ages have had very different ideas on morality, they say. And they seem to have a point.

Manners and Styles

Certainly manners, styles, and dress codes change over time. The past half century has seen considerable change in the United States. In 1960, most women worked in their homes raising children. They usually wore dresses, and those dresses were of a certain conventional length.

Men were expected to be the breadwinners. They wore their hair short and rarely had facial hair. Children addressed grownups as “Sir” or Ma’am” and in general were taught to be deferential to adults. Unless you were well acquainted, it was Mr., Mrs, or Miss whatever their last-name-was. Times have changed!

Much of what passes as normal behavior nowadays would have been socially unacceptable just thirty years ago. And it works both ways. Many of the things our ancestors did in the past would not be tolerated today. A few hundred years ago, capital punishment was the approved punishment for crimes ranging from petty theft to treason. Witches were hung or burned. And slavery was by and large considered an acceptable practice.

Moral Principles

Obviously some of the things our forefathers believed are social taboos today and vice versa. However, that’s not the whole story. While some values can and do vary, others evidently do not. In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out that if you take the trouble to compare the moral teachings of ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans, you will be struck with how much they have in common with each other and with us today.

Fair play, unselfishness, courage, faithfulness, honesty, and truthfulness have always been admired, whereas treachery, murder, robbery, theft, and rape have always been condemned. Men have disagreed over whom you should be unselfish to – just your family, your country, or to everyone.

But none have advocated putting yourself first. Some cultures have allowed more than one wife, but none allow you to have just any woman you want.

Golden Rule

The most universal concept of all is also the most basic. We call it the Golden Rule. Most moral teachings state it in a negative form such as “Never do to others what you would not have them do to you.” This fundamental rule of conduct turns up in rabbinical Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

We also see it in Greek and Roman ethical teachings and even in Old Norse proverbs. Jesus Christ turned it around and put it in its positive form two thousand years ago. “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Is any other type of morality possible? Lewis challenges us, “. . . think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battles, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might as well try to imagine a country where two and two make five.”

The Moral Law

It sounds like the rule of right and wrong, the moral law, or whatever you want to call it, exists on two separate levels. One is arbitrary. Fashion, convention, or taste sets the tone for acceptable behavior on this level.

Then we see another moral level beyond the trends of society. Here we find a permanent core of values. These fundamental guides for human behavior seem to be deeply ingrained in mankind and are not swayed by time and place circumstances.

Everyday conversation suggests that most of us at heart believe in a real right and wrong. Take arguments for example. People young and old, educated and uneducated, often say such things as: “Come on, you promised.” “Hey, you broke in line ahead of us. That’s not fair.” “Why don’t you help me? I helped you when you needed it.”

C.S. Lewis tells us that remarks of that sort don’t just mean that the other fellow’s attitude doesn’t happen to please the speaker. There is something else involved. The one who makes the complaint is appealing to a certain standard of behavior which he expects the other person to know about.

And usually he is right. The other man rarely replies, “I don’t give a hoot about fairness.” No. He makes out that what he’s doing isn’t really unfair after all. He claims to have some special excuse which lets him off the hook for not living up to his promise this time, or for breaking in line, or for not helping you on this occasion.

It looks as though both sides really agree there is a law or rule of fair play. Quarreling means trying to show the other person is wrong. What’s the sense in trying to do that unless both sides agree as to what is right and wrong. Just as in basketball, to paraphrase Lewis’ example, there’s no sense in saying a player committed a foul unless there is an agreement on the rules of basketball.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Thieves cannot excuse themselves saying they didn’t know stealing was a crime. Murderers can’t get away with murder, claiming they didn’t know murder was wrong. The underlying idea is that all citizens are expected to understand that stealing and murder are wrong.

Can you imagine an attorney in a request that the case be dismissed against his client, saying, “No judge, I don’t think my client should be held responsible for murdering his wife and six children. After all, the defendant doesn’t have a law degree. Why should we expect him to know all the finer points of the law?”

On the other hand, lawyers do try to excuse their clients by pleading “temporary insanity.” Doesn’t that let the cat out of the bag? What they are saying is that for one reason or another, the accused was momentarily mentally unbalanced and didn’t understand he was committing an act which all of us know to be wrong. Had the defendant been sane at the moment, he would have recognized and upheld the same Rules for Right Conduct that all the rest of us sane people do.

They seem to be affirming that criminal codes are based on certain moral truths. In fact, federal and state criminal laws wouldn’t make sense unless there were a real standard of decent behavior which the “sane” criminal knows as well as we do and ought to have practiced.

Sometimes right and wrong are so obvious, no one seriously questions it. After World War II, Germany was widely denounced for their war crimes. But as Lewis observes: “What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we di
d and ought to have practiced?”

Earlier we asked, is our idea of right and wrong a subjective whim or a real objective standard for good behavior. Evidently it is both. Manners, styles, clothing, and opinions on any number of subjects vary over time and location.

Then again virtues such as courage, faithfulness, and honesty have always been praised. Likewise, vices such as treachery, murder, and theft have been universally condemned.

Civilizations throughout history have reflected these eternal values. And they are still with us today. Much of what we think, much of what we say, and much of what we do would be utter nonsense if there were not a true moral standard of right and wrong.

Now if we can agree that there really is an objective standard of right and wrong, we can go on to our next question. Namely where does this standard come from? Some say mankind invented the moral code because civilization couldn’t function without basic rules for getting along. Through education, they passed these rules for right living on down from one generation to the next.

Others say the same Outside Source which designed the human body also produced the moral code as a guide for our behavior. The moral law was imprinted in humans much the same as instinct. Who’s right?

Before we take up that question, let’s first consider an entirely different subject – mathematics. Math, as we know, is based upon certain objective truths. Algebra, calculus, and trigonometry are all derived from solid mathematical principles which have been around long before mankind discovered them.

And if we somehow lose knowledge of them again, those principles would still be there awaiting future generations to rediscover them. Therefore, we can say that mathematical truths exist separate from any human knowledge of them.

Notice we say such things as: Pythagoras discovered the principles governing the right-angled triangle. Or Descartes discovered the principles behind analytical geometry. We don’t say they “invented” the principles. They were already there. In the same way we speak of people discovering other scientific facts.

In 1781, William Hershel discovered the planet Uranus, and in 1930. C. Tombaugh discovered Pluto. Uranus and Pluto have probably been around as long as our own planet. They would still be there even if we had never learned of their existence.

Bearing that in mind, let’s return to the moral law. The most reasonable assumption is that individuals down through the centuries discovered and rediscovered certain fundamental truths of right and wrong. They didn’t invent them any more than Pythagoras invented the principles governing the right-angled triangle or William Hershel invented Uranus.

The moral law for decent behavior was already there. Men and women merely looked into their own hearts, their own conscience, and there they found a bundle of “oughts.” “Oughts” such as: I ought to keep my promises, even if I would rather not. I ought to tell the truth, even if it makes me look like a fool. I ought to finish my assigned duty, even though I would rather do something else. I ought to remain true to my spouse, even if I am attracted to another. I ought to be honest, even if it would be easy to cheat. I ought to treat the other fellow the same way I would like to be treated, even if I think he is a jerk.

Apparently, none of us made up this moral code of “oughts.” Sometimes it would be rather convenient if they would just go away. But they don’t. They continue to press in on us whether we like it or not.

One thing more, if man created the moral law himself, we would expect to find each society and each civilization developing their own set of basic principles. Our clue is that they did not. While they came up with widely different customs, conventions, and manners, every civilization, past and present, discovered the same bundle of inconvenient “oughts” to direct their lives. Isn’t that curious?

It looks very much like the Outside Source is behind all of it. What does the moral law tell us about this Outsider? Obviously, he’s not a create-’em-and-let-’em-run-amuck sort of being. He’s not a neutral, hands off, passive creator. Instead we find a Moral Agent who has loaded the dice trying to influence our thinking.

Freedom of Choice

He implanted basic instincts in us much as he did the animals. But he gave us something other creatures apparently didn’t receive. This Moral Agent programmed a series of “oughts’ into us to guide our behavior. Clearly, he wants us to keep our promises, tell the truth, do our duty, remain faithful, be honest, and to do to others the same way we would have them do to us.

Notice though, however much the Moral Agent wants us to act in a certain way, he does not force us. He allows us free choice. We can chose to obey the moral law, or we can reject it.


Before we leave the moral law, I would like to draw your attention to an enigma. Our natural desires in life seem to be satisfied by one means or another. We thirst; water quenches our thirst. We hunger; food quenches our hunger. We want sex; our mate quenches our desire. Our human nature appears to be in close harmony with what life has to offer; so much so, it looks like someone planned it that way.

Give them a desire, then give them a way to satisfy it, seems to be the idea. It keeps us busy doing the things that Whoever-made-us wants us to do. And it all works well, up to a point. Then we run into something that doesn’t quite pan out.

Deeply embedded in our conscience we find a penchant for justice or fair play. We are not neutral observers; we are moral creatures. We want the good guys to win. We like happy endings. And we cheer when good triumphs over evil.

About the only place that happens, however, is at the movies, old movies at that. Real life isn’t nearly as accommodating. In fact, life often seems inherently unfair.

Consider the following: One baby is born to wealth, another to poverty. One is born to a family that loves him, another to a family that abuses him. One is aborted, the other is not. I don’t need to tell you, there is nothing fair about any of that.

Fortune seems to smile on some and frown on others. We see geniuses, and we see idiots; women with great beauty, and women who are downright ugly; people with many talents, and people with no talents at all; and those who are healthy, and those who are sickly or physically deformed. What’s fair about that?

Let’s take it a step further. Some people are endowed with good looks, sound nerves, wit, charm, and a pleasing personality. Popularity and admiration come fairly easy for them. They fit in naturally wherever they go. They don’t need to work at it. It’s a gift. They are the blessed. They are life’s winners.

At the other end of the totem pole, it’s an entirely different story. There we find the homely, dull, slow-witted, timid, warped, lonely people or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people. By no choice of their own, many are born into homes filled with hatred, petty jealousies, and constant bickering. Others are tormented by sexual perversions or nagged by an inferiority complex. No matter how hard they try, they don’t fit in anywhere. They are life’s losers – unappealing, unloved, and often the object of ridicule and jokes. These folks will be quick to tell you, “life is unfair.” And they are right.

Notice, what we have mentioned so far are traits and circumstances over which we have little or no control. What about those things over with we do have control? Do we find fairness there?

Some people work long and hard, day in and day out, sunup to sundown. Others do nothing they are not forced to do. Both live out their seventy or so years and die. Memory of both soon fades away. All they had, whether plenty or little, is left to someone who did not work for it. Somehow that doesn’t strike us as fair either.

And what of the honest, the faithful, the kind
, and the generous? Do they not meet the same fate as the hypocrite, the unfaithful, the cruel, and the greedy? Death overtakes them all, good or bad. And soon they are forgotten. Certainly, that’s not fair. Where are the scales of justice?

But it is even worse than that. You and I know that as often as not, it is the bad man who prospers while the good suffers all kinds of afflictions. The bully wins, and the weak pays the price. The cheater gets off scot-free, while the innocent is accused. Crime all too often does pay. The criminal really does get away with murder. His victim suffers the loss. Justice is stood on its head.

We know life is full of injustices. No one denies it. They spring up everywhere. Our sense of fair play tells us something is fundamentally wrong. Something is out of kilter. We long for a world turned right side up. We want those who have been forced to suffer to receive their just compensation.

We want those who have benefited others to receive their just reward. We want those who have abused others to receive their just punishment. Anything less would be a travesty of justice.

Our True Home

Why then, are we given a longing for justice and forced to live in an unjust world? Has the same Agent who provided so generously for all our other needs, created an elaborate hoax just to frustrate our desire for justice? Or could it be that this world is not our final destination?

Perhaps we were made for a better world, a world without death, suffering and injustice. We might find our ingrained sense of fair play to be in complete harmony with the reality of our true home.

Evolutionists have nothing to say about justice or fair play.

Questions to Consider:

1. If we are nothing more than the chance meeting of random atoms of matter, why are we concerned about justice?

2. One more question: If we are nothing more than the chance meeting of random atoms of matter, how did we ever acquire the intelligence to figure out that we are nothing more than the chance meeting of random atoms of matter?

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Siddharth Chitturi asked:

Jawaharlal Nehru, on the afternoon of March 19, 1955, while addressing the members of the Punjab High Court at the inauguration of its new building in Chandigarh, said, “Justice in India should be simple, speedy and cheap.” He remarked that litigation was a disease and it could not be a good thing to allow any disease to spread and then go out in search of doctors. Referring to an adage that “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, Pt. Nehru stressed that disposal of cases must not be delayed.

Securing Justice – Social, Economic and Political to all citizens is one of the key mandates of the Indian Constitution. This has been explicitly made so in Article 39 – A of the Constitution that directs the state “to secure equal justice and free legal aid for all its citizens.” But the experience of last 57 years shows that the state has failed to dispense quick, inexpensive justice to protect the rights of the poor and the vulnerable. Hon’ble Justice B.P. Singh, a serving Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, spoke on the topic “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: the Plight of Indian Poor” at Observer Research Foundation and said that “the situation today is so grim that if a poor is able to reach to the stage of Hon’ble High Court, it should be considered as an achievement. It has merely become a court of the rich.”

The justice delivery system is on the verge of collapse with more than 30 million cases clogging the system. There are cases that take so much time that even a generation is too short to get any type of redressal. A brief look at some of the judicial statistics would tell the true story of the state of justice in India today: –

On an average, 50 lakh crimes are registered everyday, which are sought to be investigated by the police.

The pendency of criminal cases in subordinate courts is in the region of 1.32 crores and the effective strength of judges is 12,177.

· The number of under – trials in criminal cases pending in the courts is 1.44 crores and of these over 2 lakh persons are in prison.

· On an average, Courts are able to dispose off 19% of pending cases every year.

The reasons for delay could be attributed to the fact that every case moves from the lowest to the highest level. Too many revisions, bails, applications make five cases of one. The Centre and the State Governments also contribute to the backlog. Not only is the Govt. the biggest litigant but also it creates fresh litigation because it doesn’t honour judicial decisions. Another obstacle to speedy justice is adjournments. As far as the situation in Subordinate Courts is concerned, the infrastructure is non existent and at times the judges have to write judgments with their own hands as they don’t have stenos. Every subordinate judge is caught between oppressive workload and hardly any time or facilities.

Constitution which mandates that the state shall secure that the operation of the legal system shall promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and shall ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen. The Judiciary is bound to shape the processes of the law to actualize the constitutional resolve to secure equal justice to all. A people who are illiterate by and large, indigent in no small measure, feudal in their way of life, and tribal and backward in large numbers, need an unconventional cadre of jurists and judges, if equal justice under the law is to be a reality. If there is breach, judicial power must offer effective shelter. Even if a legislation hurting or hampering the backward sector is passed, the higher courts have to declare the statute void, if it be contra-constitutional. In sum, the judicial process, in its functional fulfillment, must be at once a shield and sword in defending the have-nots when injustice afflicts them. And this must be possible even if the humbler folk, directly aggrieved, are too weak to move the court on their own and a socially sensitive agency advocates the cause. Securing justice – social, economic and political to all citizens is one of the key mandates of the Indian Constitution. This has been explicitly made so in the Article 39-A of the Constitution that directs the State – to secure equal justice and free legal aid for the citizens. But the experiences of last 57 years show that the State has failed squarely on addressing some very basic issues–quick and inexpensive justice and protecting the rights of poor and the vulnerable. The justice delivery system is on the verge of collapse with more than 30 million cases clogging the system. There are cases that take so much of time that even a generation is too short to get any type of redressal.


That it will take more than 300 years to clear the backlog of cases in Indian courts is proof enough that our criminal justice system is sick, stagnant and in urgent need of a complete overhaul. A committee was set up, a couple of years ago, under Justice V S Malimath to examine changes and its report came, coincidentally, at the time that justice was finally done in the Uphaar Cinema case and just before the fourth anniversary, Jessica Lal’s horrific murder. Both cases draw attention, in different ways, to the glaring flaws in our justice system.

In the Uphaar case it is shocking that it took ten years to establish that the 59 people died because of criminal negligence on the part of the cinema management and the Delhi government. It was clear from day one that nobody would have died had the cinema followed safety rules but because the wheels of Indian justice move at the pace of our national vehicle – the bullock cart – it took ten years for justice to be done.

Causes of Delay:-

Delay in disposition of cases– Due to huge pendency, the cases take years for its final disposal, which would normally take few months time. The arrears cause delay and delay means negating the accessibility of justice in true terms to the common man. The very core of a civil society and rule of law is the provision of justice, but the decision must be delivered within a reasonable time. It is totally unfair if a suspected criminal waits for trial for years and is ultimately found innocent. Similarly, the victim of the crime will be also not satisfied if there is no punishment to the criminal for so long. Only speedy justice could ensure effective maintenance of Law and order. Quality of justice not only promotes peace in the society but also strengthens internal security of the country. There are number of litigations which could be avoided if Govt. officials had taken interest, for e.g. section 80 of CPC require a prior notice of two months to Govt. by a party who wish to sue the Govt. The purpose of this section is to give time to Govt. to settle the matter with such party by taking proper and suitable action, and thereby could avoid unwanted and unnecessary litigation. But the utter failure of Govt. official in taking a quick, bold and suitable action inspite of giving time forces a person to file case.

Strength of Judges are inadequate according to population and bunch of cases. As of January 2005, pending cases in the Supreme Court number 30,000, in high courts over 33.79 lakh and in subordinate courts over 2.35 crore – a totally unacceptable situation. Much of this is due to shortage of judges. The ratio of judges to population is 10.5 to one million, the lowest in the world. Even this low level is not reached because of the accumulation of vacancies in the Benches -140 against the approved strength of 668 judges in high courts and 2000 against 15000 in subordinate courts.4

The infrastructure of the lower courts is very disappointing. Though, the Sup
reme Court and High Courts are having good infrastructure but this in not the same position with lower courts. The Courts have no convenient building or physical facilities. The executive has failed to provide necessary infrastructure to enable judiciary and function normally. Good library, requisite furniture, sufficient staff and reasonable space are the need of the qualitative justice. In some courts security systems is also not good. The legal profession is one of the most struggling profession but no social security scheme is available for lawyers, some financial aid should be provided to Bar associations or the new beginners by the government. The good working condition of the lawyers would help in the excellence of service and qualitative justice to the litigating public.

Competency of the Other Staff in Court : It should also be kept in mind that not only Judges and Advocates be competent but also the administrative and clerical staff. The clerical staff must be free from all type of corruption. This is the era of computerization. The highly technical and competitive clerical staff will also help in speedy course. We all know how much time is taken in getting merely a copy of the judgment? It is hard that money is used to speed up the process. The bribe giver does not wish, to get anything done unlawfully, but merely wants to speed up the process of movement of files and communication relating to decision. Certain sections of staff concerned do work only after taking money.

Investigative agencies generally delay : The investigation of crime It is generally heard that the accused gets bail as the investigating agency failed to submit charge sheet within statutory period. The combination of several functions, such as crime investigation, riot control, intelligence gathering, and security of VIPs by a single police force has a devastating effect on the criminal justice system. Nowadays, the crime investigation is not immune from the partisan politics. The power of the government to drop criminal charges against the accused has further abused it. The lethargic police investigation is also a ground of slow process of law.

Consider the condition of the poor victims of Bhopal gas Leak disaster, which took a toll of 15000 people. Twenty years had passed to that ghastly incident; still now victims were fighting for its compensation, which fails to measure up the damage caused to them. Consider the terrible situation occurred in August 1991 as massacre of Dalits at Tsundur in Andhra Pradesh. 13 years had passed to that incident, the families of the victims of Tsundur, still await justice for those who died. They say, they will not find any peace until the guilty are punished for their crime. Consider the condition of those girls who were brutally gang raped during the Godhra riots in front of their helpless family members. Consider the victims of Best Bakery case who still awaits justice to be dispensed in their favour but the climax starts with the key witness in the case turned hostile and the entire fate of the Bakery case is in turmoil. Today the victims of the all the above-enumerated cases know full well that the price of truth is extremely high.


“Still they are waiting… But for what? Whether all these amounts to justice?”


Remedies to Overcome Delay (Suggestions)

I. Talking about the strategies to deal with justice delay, an improved justice delivery system means cutting down the number of adjournments, reducing the time for arguments, keeping a check on review petitions/ frivolous petitions, stopping lawyers extending cases and so on.

II. Punishments should be very stringent and the implementing authorities should be tough so that crime comes down automatically.

III. Lawyers should encourage out of Court settlements.

IV. In case a lawyer looses a certain number of cases, his license should be suspended for sometime so that lawyers refrain from taking up frivolous cases.

V. Govt. Officials should be made personally liable for lapses so that cases against the Govt. are reduced.

VI. The number of appeals to be filed for each category of case should be fixed. Every litigant should not be allowed to go to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. If need be, the law can be changed accordingly.

VII. It is needed to establish a body at national level composed of Judges, Lawyers and Legal academics, which should be charged with a duty to conduct examinations for recruitment to Indian Judicial Service (IJS). Article 233 will have to be amended to confer power on the president to appoint members of Indian Judicial Services on the recommendation of National Judicial Service Commission. The creation of Indian Judicial Service is appeared necessary to get best available talent in the country.

VIII. There is urgently need to improve the basic infrastructure and management of resources. Modern technology and use of computers could also increase the efficiency of the court system. The judiciary has also to learn management techniques through training at all levels. Though, the Supreme Court and High Courts are having good infrastructure but this in not the same position with lower courts. The lower courts are the basic institution of justice and to improve the quality of the justice dispensed with, it is necessary to improve their infrastructure by modern technology. Lack of funds should not be allowed to enter in the way of development of infrastructure, as external security is necessary, internal maintenance of law and order is also necessary for the internal security, national interest, peace and progress. In general budget certain handsome amount could also be allocated to judiciary like defence and education or a separate judicial budget should be placed, like railway budget. The panel of government lawyer should also be on merits not on the basis of nearness to ministers. As the government is the largest litigant, more transparency is required on their part. Govt. counsel should be selected on the basis of merit, efficiency, integrity, by some transparent manner. There should also be some permanent vigilance provision to observe the working of the public prosecutors. Security system in courts also needs improvement for proper confidence of people and fearless functioning of system. Information-counter should be set up in every court for the convenience of litigating public.

IX. Our criminal justice system has the urgent requirement of Independent Investigative Agency. Delay in police investigation is also one reason due to which cases linger on for years. It is, therefore, good to create an independent wing of police force, fully in charge of crime investigation, and functioning under the direct control of independent prosecutors. That wing should be accountable to judiciary and not to particular government of a time. The practice of torture and third degree methods, extra judicial execution in fake encounters may be stopped also when crime investigation machinery became accountable to judiciary. Such type of police wing also became knowledgeable about the type and method of the evidence needed. Hence, baseless cases, which lead acquittal, also could come down. So, there should be co-ordination between police and prosecuting agencies. The early disposal of case also boosts the morals of police force and will save time, which would have been taken in producing arrestee to the court Horn time to time.

X. We have inherited British legal system, British prescribed it at that time, without considering the need of Indian society nor did they consider the practical of the procedure. So, this system is drawn from different sources without seeing the ground realities. Some people today prefer to keep quiet, rather than go to the court of law. So, now this system is more Indianised for making it fit to society. It is heard that in ancient time justice system was very good. The disputes were settled on the spot by delivering justice. B
ut ancient justice proceedings were oral in general and therefore no much record is available. Now we can take modem know-how from the countries, which have best justice delivery system by getting acquainted with the procedure followed there, if fit to Indian society. The civil and criminal procedure codes and the laws of evidence have to be substantially revised to meet the requirements of modem judicial administration. Though most of procedural laws are effective even today but some provision needs revision, especially the civil laws. To lessen the burden of cases, we may introduce the concept of’ Plea-bargaining’ by decriminalization of those wrongs, which can justly be dealt with by compensatory remedies (Compensation to victim like in tort). The institutions involved in justice delivery system such as the police, the prosecution, and the court, prison etc.-requires to be reformed in terms of organization, procedures, resources and accountability. So that, nowhere citizen feels uneasiness. There should be time limits prescribed for adjudication. There should be uniform formats for the appeals and petitions to make the procedure easy. The judgment should be in brevity and clarity. The concept like of public interest litigation is always welcoming, which is affordable to common men. Hence, there is a lot of scope to improve the situation. For e.g. Section 301 Cr. P.c. should be amended to allow the victim to appoint a lawyer of his choice in addition to public prosecutor to defend his case. Similarly, Section 3 13 (3) of Cr. P.C. also be amended so that the accused would be held liable for refusal to give answer or telling lie. The victim will be allowed to cross-examine the accused to elucidate the truth. There must be some fixed time for presentation of written statement, counter claim and reply like the plaint, under the I imitation Act. After all procedural law is meant to further ends of justice.


While the problem of delay looks daunting, it can be dealt with, by having more fast track Courts, making judicial services more attractive thereby attracting good lawyers and filling up all vacancies at various Courts. We can conclude from the above discussion that we should not resort in extra-ordinary hurry-up of cases by whatever means. As justice delayed is justice denied, similarly, the saying, justice hurried is justice buried is equally true. Therefore, sufficient, reasonable and due hearing of every cases with consideration of its circumstances is the necessary requirement of natural justice and balance of convenience. In fact, the untiring efforts put by fear and flavorless Indian Judiciary is doing commendable job of imparting justice in spite of so many difficulties, which created faith of public in the rule. Of law is a great achievement, which really requires deep appreciation. Social justice will be possible only if the entire concept of egalitarian politico-social order is followed, where no one is exploited, where every one is liberated and where every one is equal and free from Hunger and poverty. The proverb ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ is proved as it is denied to the poorest of the poor. Providing basic necessities to them will amount to Justice because the definition of justice varies from individuals to individuals on the basis of its economic conditions. According to B.P.Singh J the situation today is so grim that if a poor is able to reach to the stage of a high court, it should be considered as an achievement.  Cases should be decided for imparting justice not for the sake of its disposal. Secondly, Arbitration procedure must be utilized as a better option for quick disposal of cases. Finally, to conclude with the words of Lord Hewet as it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

“Without Justice, life would not be possible and even if it were it would not be worth living” ……Giorgio Del Vecchio

The Political Economy of Social Justice

Murali asked:

ng>The Political Economy of Social Justice


Head, Department of Philosophy & Centre for Philosophical Research

The Madura College (Autonomous), Madurai -625011.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can

change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead


Social justice refers to conceptions of justice applied to an entire society. It is based on the idea of a just society, which gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of society. Hence, Ethics has many spheres to operate. Economics is one of the major spheres of ethics. According to Aristotle, Economics is a practical expression of ethics- a basic virtue rooted in justice. This concept of justice has been variously described as distributive justice or a fair share for all. In other words, the concept of social justice was accepted as being rooted in an ethical base or simply common sense and economics cannot be divorced from this. Similarly economics and politics are inseparable. Social justice is both a philosophical problem and an important issue in political economy.

It can be argued that everyone wishes to live in a just society, but different political ideologies have different conceptions of what a ‘just society’ actually is. The term “social justice” itself tends to be used by those ideologies who believe that present day society is highly unjust – and these are usually left wing ideologies, advocating a more extensive use of democracy and income redistribution, a more egalitarian society and either a mixed economy or a non-market-based economic model. The right wing has its own conception of social justice, but generally believes that it is best achieved through embracing meritocracy, the operation of a free market , and the promotion of philoanthropy and charity. Both right and left tend to agree on the importance of rule of law human rights, and some form of a welfare safety net (though the left supports this to a greater extent than the right).

Social justice is also a concept that some use to describe the movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality. So a very broad definition of social justice is that “social justice reflects the way in which human rights are manifested in the everyday lives of people at every level of society”. It can be further defined as working towards the realization of a world where all members of a society, regardless of background, have basic human rights and an equal oppurtunity  to access the benefits of their society.

Many philosophers like Aquinas, Locke, Bentham , Mill, Kant and others have discussed the problem of social justice in their works. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the concept of Social Justice has largely been associated with the political philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002) who draws on the utilitarian insights of Bentham and Mill, the social contract ideas of Locke, and the categorical imperative ideas of Kant. His first statement of principle was made in A Theory of Justice (1971) where he proposed that, “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others”, a deontological proposition that echoes Kant in framing the moral good of justice in absolutist terms. His views are definitively restated in Political Liberalism (1993), where society is seen, “as a fair system of co-operation over time, from one generation to the next.” (at p.14).

Along with these philosophers some others hold that social justice is nothing but the redistribution of wealth, power and status for the individual, community and societal good. Some others hold that it is government’s (or those who hold significant power) responsibility to ensure a basic quality of life for all its citizens.

Hence, it’s very clear that economic policies of the society are very much connected with social justice. It is also true that all around in the world today many advocates of social justice are in some state of despair. Some of them fear that social justice is a lost cause in a global economy.


Liberalism: Social Justice as Economic Freedom

Liberal capitalism, the super economic, all pervasive model which is promoted and practiced all over the globe today has been subject to severe critical examination by economists, not only due to economic recession but also mainly for destabilizing value systems in countries and becomes responsible for social injustice across the globe.

Friedrich Hayek, Nobel laureate in Economics and a principal twentieth century defender of liberal capitalism, once stated that “…nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.” We do not have to spend a great deal of time on his jaundiced reading of the history of struggles for social justice. What is, however, worth noting is his unequivocal presumption that social justice and the freedoms we have under modern capitalism are not only distinct from each other, but mutually antagonistic.

Sam Gindin in his article on ‘Anti-Capitalism and the Terrain of Social Justice’ severely criticizes Hayek’s position. He says that what so many others have obscured and what Hayek to his credit confronts directly, is that inequality is not an unfortunate aberration under capitalism, but an inescapable outcome and an essential condition of its successful economic functioning. Capitalism is—and this is surely as clear today as it ever was—a social system based on class and competition. Such a society guarantees not just inequality of result, but insofar as the results of inequality are passed on through the institution of the family and the spatial divisions of uneven capitalist development, the inequality is reproduced inter-generationally and inter-regionally. This leads to a decisive inequality of opportunity.

It is not surprising therefore that the most clear-minded defenders of capitalism consequently seek to displace the terrain of debate over the legitimacy of capitalism from distributive or equal-opportunity notions of social justice, to notions of individual freedom and especially market freedoms. Gindin observes that the individual is placed at the center of a world in which the concept of the community or the collective is confined to the state—liberalism’s old nemesis. Liberalism then seeks to limit the power of the state not only by the rule of law, freedom of expression and association, and elected legislatures, but also and especially by the rights of property, the inviolability of contract in market exchanges, and the protection of private-family spaces to enjoy the fruits of property and labor.

There is no denying the powerful practical appeal of this structure. Both civil and political rights and the historically unprecedented economic dynamism and possibility of rising standards of living rested on it. Yet the reality of class inequality behind this structure could not so easily be set aside. The contradictions of liberal justice rest on the fact that a market economy creates a market society, and that private property is not and never was a relationship between people and things, but a relationship between people. Historically, the creation of markets and private property were
not, as liberal mythology tends to present it, a matter of getting the state to stand aside so natural human propensities could unfold. Private property in particular emerged with the support of an absolutist state controlled by landed interests who asserted unconditional rights over property which had previously been constrained by traditional obligations. Those interests, backed by the state, forcibly expropriated the commons—lands formerly accessible to the community—for their exclusively private use. The need to reproduce these kinds of private property rights and the privileges they imply necessitated a permanently strong, active, and class-biased state. Today, the drive to deepen and expand such rights takes the form of neo liberal globalization.

Capitalism’s inequalities, it is crucial to emphasize, are not simply about some getting more and others less, but rather that the economic freedom capitalism embodies involves guaranteeing different kinds of freedoms for different people. For a minority, economic freedom revolves around the power to organize production and accumulate; for the rest, freedom to sell one’s productive potential in a labor market and, on the basis of that, to exercise some personal choice in consumer markets. What the minority is accumulating as part of its freedom includes power over the labor of others and therefore over their “individuality.” The freedom/power to sell one’s productive potential and to exercise some choice in consumer markets, in contrast, is founded on a dependency on those who provide the jobs and the commodities available for consumption.

The neo liberal response set out to undo the historically-acquired social limits that had redefined liberalism in practice in the postwar era. Neo liberalism named a strategy that sought to place capitalism clearly back on the track of its still incomplete development by accelerating the drive to commodify, and therefore open every aspect of life to profits and the social discipline imposed by profits. This was not just a matter of the extension of markets spatially (“globalization”), but of deepening the domestic penetration of markets into any social, personal, or cultural space that had previously managed to escape subordination to a capitalistic calculus. Since democracy tends to recreate protections against the anti-social logic of markets, the implementation of neo liberalism also necessitated a decline, one way or the other, in effective democracy.

It is relevant to take note of certain important criticisms against neo liberalism by its own supporters. Joseph Stiglitz former economist in the World Bank and the Noble Prize winner in Economics in 2001, who is the staunch supporter of the Globalization himself, declares that “Globalization today is not working for many of the world’s poor. It is not working for much of the environment. It is not working for stability of the global economy”. He writes on the basis of this close observation: “what I saw radically changed my view of both globalization and development… I saw first hand the devastating effect that globalization can have on developing countries”. Stiglitz accuses that the West “acting through the IMF and the WTO – has seriously mismanaged the process of privatization, liberalization and stabilization, and that by following its advice Third World countries and former Communist states are actually worse off than before.

George Soros, another architect of Globalization observes that ‘we have global markets but we cannot build a global society without taking into account moral considerations’ He says that US is the major obstacle to international cooperation today. It is resolutely opposed to any international arrangement that would infringe on its sovereignty. The list is long including the International Criminal Court, the Landmines Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, many of the ILO conventions and many more arcane conventions like the Law of Sea Convention and convention of Biological Diversity. Hence he says that the pursuit of hegemony comes into direct conflict with the vision of a global open society. United States wants to be an unmoved mover.

So it is not simply eliminating poverty but rather reducing inequality. The first is impossible to resolve without solving the second. The real problem, again, is not absolute resources but the social distance and different degrees of control over one’s own resources. And this holds true in every society.

In this context, Habermas’s view adds a socio-cultural dimension to the political economy. Habermas does tie economic globalization and global terrorism, but does not believe that the latter is ultimately a manifestation of a clash of cultures. Instead Habermas regards global terrorism as an economically based reaction to the gross inequities perpetrated by globalization. Accordingly, Habermas regards global terrorism as arising from a breakdown of communication and as only amounting to an external threat to modernism.

This gives the liberal sociologist Richard Munch reason to fear that we will be faced with the depletion of non-renewable resources, cultural alienation on a mass scale, and social explosions unless we succeed in politically fencing-in markets which are, as it were, running away from enfeebled and overburdened nation-states.

As Habermas wrote in 1997, globalization ‘threatens to dissolve the social glue that holds together already fragmented national societies.’ In Germany, questions of nation, national identity and culture, along with the search for a binding ‘social glue’, have arisen just as globalization challenges the possibility of the national unification process. Anti-globalization there, as elsewhere, seeks to protect local identity, economies and culture from both the European Union and the more powerful American ’empire’.

For Amartya Sen, the central issue of contention is not globalization itself, nor is it the use of the market as an institution, but the inequity in the overall balance of institutional arrangements–which produces very unequal sharing of the benefits of globalization. He says that the question is not just whether the poor, too, gain something from globalization, but whether they get a fair share and a fair opportunity. There is an urgent need for reforming institutional arrangements–in addition to national ones–in order to overcome both the errors of omission and those of commission that tend to give the poor across the world such limited opportunities. Globalization deserves a reasoned defense, but it also needs reform.


Globalization : Road to injustice

Globalization has not only affected all aspects of human life but also influenced the social institutions to a great extent. It operates in an uneven and unequal manner. The neo-liberal economy, i.e., liberalization, privatization and globalization, has further compounded the unevenness and inequality in society. The small minority of world’s population holds maximum resources and majority of people are grappled in poverty.

Before the melt down, there were 1.3 billion desperately poor people in the world who survived on less than $1 per day. There were an additional 1.5 billion very poor who lived on $2 each day. This means that 2.8 billion, almost half of the global family were living on $2 a day or less (Sider, 2002). But today things would have gone even worse.

Many do not have access to safe water (1 bil.) and they do not have access to improved sanitation (2 bil.). These poor public health conditions cause approximately 34,000 children to die every day of diarrhea and other easily preventable diseases (Sider, 2002).

In answer to the question “What is globalization?” Susan George, president of the Observatory on Globalization in Paris, associate director of the Transnational Institute of Amsterdam, and author of nine books, stated that there is already a world government – which is not democratic; one set of people can change the futur
e of others who are not involved in decision-making. Its objective is to put all human activity in the market, including education, culture, and health. Globalization is responsible for pushing wealth upward both between countries and within countries. Since 1980 every country has experienced increasing inequalities. 85% of people live in countries where inequalities are increasing and this includes China, Russia, E. Europe and West Europe and the US, and at the same time inequalities are increasing between North and South.

She gave the illustration of the upturned champagne glass, showing the top 20% of humanity capturing 82% of the wealth, while the bottom 80% of the graph must get along with 1.3% of the world’s wealth. These inequalities are becoming more extreme. There are now 485 billionaires in the world, who control the equivalent of the wealth of half the world. And only three of those billionaires control wealth equaling the national production of 48 countries.

These inequalities have drastic consequences. The recently series of financial crises was caused by the institutional investors of the world. The ‘electronic herd’ all act at the same time e.g. someone says Thailand is not doing very well or Mexico and all run for the door at the same time. Then the financial crisis occurs and the IF steps in to say what the country must do. She emphasized  “the rules that the IF sets KILL ordinary people”. For example in Mexico after the 1995 financial crisis 28,000 small firms failed because they could not keep up with the interest rates imposed upon them. Half of Mexico is now living below the poverty line. In Indonesia, after the financial crisis, 20 million people who thought they were becoming middle class were pushed violently into poverty. In Russia 4% of people used to be classed as really poor, but now because there are no rules as the ‘market’ is supposed to do everything 50% are living in poverty. Everywhere health, social and educational structures have been cut because of structural adjustments. Now there is only one ideology left in the world after the collapse of communism.

Who are the managers of the global system? The power behind the throne is the large multinational corporations. They do not want to govern directly so they do so through the WB, IMF and WTO. These corporations support even the UN. Kofi Annan has signed the Global Contract with 50 multinationals, many of whom have terrible human rights and environmental damage records.

The system works well for the top 10% of the world’s population, but not for anyone else. The central political question of our time is changing. It used to be one of hierarchy, where you are on the hierarchical ladder – a king or a beggar; that was the main organizing principle of politics. For the past 100 years or so the central political question has been – Who is going to get the biggest piece of the pie? Elements of both of these – hierarchy and share of the pie – remain today. But the new question is ‘Who has a right to survive?’ and ‘Who has not?’ Now there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who do not contribute to the market as producers or consumers. Do they have the right to survive?

The first thing people have to understand is that the present system is not the only choice. God never said to Moses that globalization must dominate the world. There are many possibilities.


Melt down: Lessons

The sudden set back in the economic scenario of the world shook every one. It is mind boggling that till the other day, country after whether hailing from North America or Europe or Africa or Asia was celebrating its perpetual increased economic growth rate, enhanced access to information technology and rising amongst its population suddenly getting traumatized by the possibility of getting swept away under the current of regression and depression deeper than 1930s brought out in and by the financial melt down initially in the US and Europe. “The global financial system is in deep and unprecedented crisis. Central Banks and governments the world over are facing several complex and compelling challenges. There have been serious disruptions in money markets. Stock markets across the world have been in a free fall and there has been extreme risk aversion in all financial markets. Policy makers across the globe are responding with aggressive, radical and unconventional measures to restore confidence and impart stability to the system”. (The Hindu October 27,2008 Editorial).

One major impact of this financial crisis in Krugman’s assessment is that advanced countries are likely to hit near zero growth next year with the world economy expanding only 3 percent. He fears that this down turn will be deep and prolonged as it was during 1930s.

As the financial turmoil continues to batter economies across the globe, the bailout packages from different governments globally is nearing the US dollar 3 trillion mark- about three times the size of the Indian economy. The UK administration in the first week of October came up with a mammoth 500 billion pounds bailout package primarily to shore up the fortunes of the nation’s banking sector. Russia too has approved a host measures estimated to be worth US dollars 86 billion to salvage the country’s banks hit by the credit squeeze. European Union pumped in 1.7 trillion Euros for underwriting of banks. Besides, a handful of European countries have also, already announced packages worth a similar amount in efforts to have their troubled financial institutions. In fact most of the world central banks moved to flood the system with money lest there should no occur total collapse.

Describing the situation Krugman observed: “all signs point to an economic slump that will be nasty, brutish and long”.

Japan’s Prime Minister Tar also announced as 27 trillion Yen stimulus package on October 30 for the world’s second largest economy including credits and loans to help small businesses, a reduction in highway tolls and cash pay back to households. He said that the financial outlook is severe and that he global financial crisis is almost certain to affect Japan’s real economy.

The burdens and impact of this so called financial tsunami is not only cutting across the globe but more significantly it is cutting across every aspect of life and in particular of poor and depressed sections of society in all most every part of the world that includes even richer nations like US and Europe. According to Director General of International Labour Organisation(ILO),Juan Somavia in an article he wrote for Times of India (October 25,2008)” the impact of the crisis on the lives, working conditions and hopes of millions of people will be strong and systemic. Arresting the crisis would require reaching beyond the financial system. This is not simply a crisis on Wall Street; it is a crisis on all streets”.

While talking of burdens, let us note the findings of a recent estimate of the impact made by the ILO. In its estimate the world unemployment could increase by 20 million marks of global unemployed for the first time. People working in such sectors as construction, automotive, tourism, finance, services and real estate will be hit hardest first. What is more disturbing that according to this ILO estimate as quoted by Juan Somavia, the number of working poor living on less than a dollar a day could rise by some 40 million and those living on tow dollars could rise by more than 100 million. It may be of crucial importance to note that job cuts are happening not only in towns, industry or elite services alone rather shocks from Wall Street are traveling even to rural India and even to small scale cottage and handloom industries and other small occupations. According to reports (Times of India Oct 24, 2008) thousands of skilled workers in two small towns, 100000 in Moradabad( UP) and 25000 in Panipat (Haryana) have been laid off after orders from their global markets
mostly from the US and Europe dried up this month. In Moradabad, artisan adept at centuries- old art of crafting brassware of European and American show rooms are pulling cycle rickshaws and selling fruits. Panipat, from where rugs, bed sheets and other textiles wind up in US stores like Wal-Mart has weavers migrating or working at jobs that now pay 1/18th what they did. According to K. Subrahmanyam in The times of India 0ctober 28, 2008 a large number of workers in toys factories in China have not only been thrown out of the jobs but have been denied payment of arrears because of economic slow down in the West. Again according to various estimates including byu the US government’s own agency the job cuts and increase in unemployment level has aroused great sense of insecurity amongst common Americans. Thus the voice is loud and clear that the crisis is not simply financial or one country centric, it is global as well as one that has the potential to devastate life and livelihood of even an average member of humankind in many parts of globe.

Today a global food crisis coexists with unprecedented financial collapse and a recession which may well turn into a depression. Utsa Patnaik says,” The domination of finance over industry and the pursuit of economic policies favouring finance capital, at the expense of growth of the real economy particularly the out put of basic necessities required by the masses. The domination of finance in the modern world and its ideology known as neo liberalism and has been evident since 1970s. We might as well call it neo- deflationism, for the ideology of finance capital always involves policies deflating the level of mass demand”.(People’s Democracy-03 November 2008)

· Whether it is development or the economic recession, common people of the world are being terribly affected by globalization.

· When Capitalisms in crisis, it immediately seek for Social Intervention by the state. eg. Bail out packages that are in vogue now in US, UK, Germany and other places. Whereas when it is on the monstrous growth based on social injustice, it insists the state to keep away from its control and interference. Crisis-control measures are taken to suit the seekers of the supernormal profits in this high capitalist set up.

From the foregoing it becomes clear that the process of globalization that was initiated by the US and its likes since the beginning of 1990 or may be little earlier is a misnomer. The process has failed to make globe as one. It remains divided between developed, rich , powerful and haves on one side and have-nots on the other with US and its allies representing the unipolarity and monopoly of economic power, trade, commerce and market. THE idea that process of globalization would ensure global prosperity, progress, peace and security leading to a global family or what we during our ancient period termed as ‘vasudeva kutumbakam’ is missing. The process of globalization has no doubt yielded into global oneness but only oneness of the kind and one kind only namely ‘a global economy’- a economy whose centre of gravity of fulcrum- its controlling mechanism and draining out its fruits resides only at one place. It is this kind of global economy with its global interconnectivity largely founded on fundamental capitalist ideas and absolute free market that resulted into financial meltdown in one place and that is place of monopoly over global market, namely the US which ultimately and due to its interconnectivity encircled almost every nation. This no doubt affected the richer nations but it brought with it tremendous potential to pierce even the livelihoods of poor nations and also of poor even in richer societies.

It is too late at this hour of the day to reverse the cycle of globalization. But equally the kind of globalization and free market philosophy practiced and professed could prove dangerous not only for the poor nations but also for the super power itself. The anger and civil unrest kind of situation prevailing in US resulting from meltdown is the testimony to it. The kind of globalization followed today that for some time brought deceptive prosperity is largely the outcome of culture of consumerism, egotism, excessivism, greed, lust and total loss of ethics and values – it is not simple failure of financial policy. Fighting these menaces of currently practiced globalization and turning it to serve the cause of humanity and human welfare is a complex and multi dimensional agenda. It requires substituting voice of monopoly, isolating and subjugating other with global consensus, global co-operation and global concerns for humanity. Of course, it would demand devising new kinds of regulatory framework monitoring mechanism, institutional structures ensuring that they represent collective wisdom and collective consensus, unlike the Bretton Woods Institutions* (IMF, WB, etc.)Of today which can be manipulated of arm twisted. We are reminded of what Dr.Manmohan sigh while addressing the ASEM said, “the sad truth is that in this age of globalization we have a global economy of sorts, but it is not supported by a global polity to provide effective government”. Speaking in the same vein European Commission President Jose Barroso said,’ we are in a moment where we need global team work, we either stick together or sink together”. Thus in short, what we are pleading is a case for global co-operation for an International economic order inspired by global consensus that works on the principles of equity, fairness and distributive justice and serves the cause of bringing welfare, peace and security to every single member of the global community.


What to do?

The state, as an institution, supposes to guarantee social welfare and social justice to the marginalized groups. Globalization has not only threatened it but also made it weak. State has now retreated back from its welfare role. In the contemporary context, social justice agenda is taken over by non-state organizations that are critical. The older theories of social justice, which are either inadequate or inapplicable, today cannot cover the new developments that have taken place in the era of globalization and therefore they have to be reviewed. Whether or not you see globalization as a positive or negative trend, it has given rise to increased interdependence of world economic markets leading to increasing economic disparities between the rich and the poor of all nations. While the wealthy develop more wealth at an increasingly rapid pace, the desperate poor are barely surviving.

Evolving global consensus as to the nature of process of globalization desiring and effective regulatory mechanism, evolving an institutional structure which is transparent and democratic unlike the present Bretton Woods Institutions where the decision making remains opaque and controlled by few powerful nations and thus ensuring that market behave responsible to society is so simple. It is a complex affair requiring engagement not only of states alone of course which is most fundamental essential , but in addition it also demands engagement of political experiences, social and economic expectations of different societies; and evolving a sensitive and reflective opinion of public and citizenry at global as well as local level. In short evolving such consensus would demand building common understanding and a common approach to new International economy order amongst every stake holder. In fact it is this kind of engagement right from political leadership to professionals, universities and voluntary groups that ultimately resulted into institutionalization of EU which initially did not look like a reality. In fact it is through this kind of engagement that the consensuses on matters like: common currency, common passport, common market, common human rights adjudicating mechanism could be arrived at.

No doubt it would demand new base of knowledge; different kind of professional approach to dealing with issues political,
social, legal and economic in nature, and evolving more vibrant and sensitive public opinion at global as well as local level.

Some proposals to safeguard social justice:

· Equal and fair commerce and not free trade

· Education, medical care, social welfare must not be in the market.

· We need to make transnational companies responsible for their actions all over the world.

· It is very much required to cancel 3rd World Debt, and reduce the power of the WB and IMF.

· Already there have been substantial victories defeating multilateral agreement on investments. The value of Monsanto’s agricultural division has been reduced to zero dollars, because people won’t accept genetically modified foods and products. National coalitions are growing.

· The economic and political spheres of society are to be subordinated human development.

· The consumption patterns and the life styles of the people must be changed towards the sane consumption. This cannot happen overnight or by decree, but will require a slow educational process, and in this the government must play an important role. The function of the state is to establish norms for healthy consumption as against pathological and indifferent consumption. There fore we need a humanistic science of Man as the basis for the applied science and Art of Social Reconstruction.

· The production shall be directed for the sake of sane production.

· A concerted effort to stimulate the appetite for sane consumption is likely to change the pattern of consumption.

· Production for use instead for profit must be slogan of the Government.

· Militant consumer movement that will use the threat of consumer strikes

as a weapon. 20% of consumers can do wonders. The great advantage of consumer strike is that they do not require government action. Realization of their power is essential. It could be a manifestation of genuine democracy.

· Bureaucratic control that would forcibly block consumption would only make people all the more consumption hungry.

· The value of other commodities and services can be determined by panel of psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, theologians, and representatives of various social and consumer groups.

· Industrial democracy implies that each member of a large industrial or other organization plays an active role and participates in decision making.

· The Government can greatly facilitate the educational process by subsidizing the production of desirable commodities and services, until these can be profitably produced. A large educational campaign in favour of same consumption would have to accompany these efforts.

· Passive spectator democracy must be changed into active participatory democracy. Political life requires maximum decentralization through out industry and politics.

· Active and responsible participation further requires that humanistic management replace bureaucratic management. The realization of the new society and new man is possible only if old motivations of profit and power are replaced by new ones. Being, sharing, understanding; if the marketing character is replaced by the productive, loving character; If cybernetic religion is replaced by anew radical humanistic spirit.

· All brain washing methods in industrial and political advertising must be prohibited.

· There is an urgent need for reforming institutional arrangements–in addition to national ones–in order to overcome both the errors of omission and those of commission that tend to give the poor across the world such limited opportunities.


How to do?

Strong political movements that must be built upon the process of class struggle should take place in each country. As Hugo Chavez said, “it cannot be mere movement of protest and celebration like Woodstock.. It is an enormous struggle, an endeavor in which organization and coordination are keys”. This is the challenge to international intellects and activists.


Amartya Sen, “How to Judge Globalism,” The American Prospect, Vol. 13 no. 1, January 14, 2002.

Erich Fromm, (1981) ‘To have or To be’, Bantham Books, New York.

Friedrich Hayek, Economic Freedom and Representative Government (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).

George Soros “ On Globalization” Public Affairs, New York,2002.

Giddens, A. (1990) ‘The Consequences of Modernity’. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Habermas, (2001) ‘The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays’, translated and edited by Max Pensky. MIT Press.

Held, D., McGrew, A., Goldblatt, D. and Perraton, J. (1999) ‘Global Transformations – politics, economics and culture’, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Joseph E.Stiglitz.(2003) Globalization and its Discontents, W.W. Norton Company,New York,.

_______________. (2007) Making Globalization Work, W.W. Norton Company,New York,2007.

Klein, N. (2001) ‘No Logo’, London: Flamingo.

Kellner, D. (1997) ‘Globalization and the Postmodern Turn’, UCLA ,

Sam Gindin, ‘Anti-Capitalism and the Terrain of Social Justice’ Monthly Review, Feb 2002.

Smith, M. K. and Smith, M. (2002) ‘Globalization: The Encyclopedia of Informal Education’,

Strange, Susan. (1996) ‘The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy’, Cambridge University Press.

· The Bretton Woods Institutions are the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They were set up at a meeting of 43 countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA in July 1944. Their aims were to help rebuild the shattered postwar economy and to promote international economic cooperation. The original Bretton Woods agreement also included plans for an International Trade Organisation (ITO) but these lay dormant until the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was created in the early 1990s.