Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why is social equality important?

If society does not have equality of opportunity for all segments, then society will be less stable. Even if a particular segment were to be unable to challenge and threaten the hegemony of the dominant segments at a given point of time, the elite from that segment will organise and pose the said challenge and threat as soon as it becomes possible. If we decide to live in a police state, where social inequality is enforced with violence by the state, it will result in social lives vulnerable to acts of violence by those suffering from the inequality and state violence.

As India becomes more unequal than before economically, the overlap of social inequality and rising economic inequality make for a very virulent mixture. Even a animal turns hostile, when its life is threatened. As the livelihoods of masses are lost to the march of the exploitative capitalism taking root in India, as the ability of masses to extricate themselves from their respective circles of common fate wanes, the rise of maoist terrorism and the rise of violence against the socially and economically backward sections of society are not surprising. I am surprised that despite the data to the contrary, many Indians continue to believe that India is improving.

I think that the pressure on socially and economically backward segments of the population to act with violence rises as their enlightenment through education rises, as the rights granted to them on paper are not granted to them in practice (i.e. lack of proper jurisprudence about related laws making rights unenforceable) and as reasonable opportunities to make a living are not made available to them due to lopsided (purposefully) development. This does not bode well for peace and prosperity. Indias lopsided economic development is building up forces which if not addressed are bound to create violence against injustice and large hurdles in further development, unless proper jurisprudence is established and the model of development is changed to a less lopsided one.

Gujarat is currently posited as the right model of development. Maybe it is, may be not. Any model which enriches one segment of population which impowerishing others sounds great in the short run if the enriched section is in control of the media singing paeans to the model of development. But it is only in the medium term that the stresses and lopsidedness becomes more visible and those whose destinies have been looted unleash their fury on the future of the said model of development. While it  is true that it is difficult to please all the people all the time, it is necessary to think about the longer time. Increasing the pressure at the bottom of the pyramid too much is far too dangerous. The pyramid could topple over.
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