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Ensuring Justice In Democracy

Students of Political Science learn two definitions of Politics at the very beginning of their undergraduate studies. While American Political Scientist and Communications Theorist Harold Dwight Lasswell (February 13, 1902 – December 18, 1978) had said that “Politics is all about who gets what, when and how“, Canadian-born American Political Scientist David Easton (June 24, 1917 – July 19, 2014) stressed that Politics could be defined as the “authoritative allocation of values“. It may be noted that Lasswell stressed on important social issues, such as position, establishment, opportunity, etc., while defining Politics. The question arises here is: Do those who are enjoying Political Power (or the Political System) have the right to distribute those valuable things among people? The answer is: Yes, as well as No. It is a Yes in Monarchy, Dictatorship or in an Authoritarian Rule. However, a Democratic Government cannot do that.

Harold D Lasswell

Both Lasswell and Easton defined Politics from the point of view of Public Policy. The word Policy also stands for Rules. Democratic Governments have to abide by certain rules or principles. Hence, they cannot distribute all these valuable social things as per their wish. The practice of recommendation is prevalent in various Democracies, but without depriving a large section of deserving people. As far as deprivation is concerned, some may argue that those, who have merit, would not waste time in staging anti-Government protests even if they get deprived, but concentrate on achieving their target on the basis of their merit. One should not forget the fact that Policy is closely related with Justice. So, the main issue here is not to prove merit, but to get justice.

David Easton

There is a difference between misappropriation of funds allocated for the development of a particular sector and depriving the deserving people from getting something by giving opportunities to the unworthy. Misappropriation of funds may delay the construction works of a bridge or road. However, it can be corrected quickly, if there exists goodwill. However, depriving the deserving candidates from getting recruited by giving opportunities to unqualified people is actually an act of cheating with merit. Unfortunately, society has to pay the price, generation after generation. The Government of eastern Indian Province of West Bengal, under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has done this by recruiting candidates as school teachers, who actually did not perform well in School Service Commission (SSC) Recruitment tests.

West Bengal SSC candidates threaten to resume protests if demands not met

Political analysts are of the opinion that depriving the deserving people of valuable social things, like position and establishment, can be considered as a direct attack on justice. In his Theory of Justice, American moral and political philosopher (in the liberal tradition) John Bordley Rawls (February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) stressed on the concept of Justice as Fairness or Equivalence. In other words, it stands for equal opportunity for all. Here, opportunity means opportunity to get those socially valuable things or equitable opportunity to join State-run institutions. Rawls also mentioned that more benefits should be given to the less privileged section of people. However, it should not be done by depriving the deserving candidates from something in exchange for money or to give opportunity to the incompetent. In that case, Social Justice is not present there.

John B Rawls

One may argue that in a country, like India, justice has already been established, as the Constitution of India has the Right to Equality, and reservations for the backward section of people in State-run institutions. Therefore, justice is quite protected in the South Asian nation. It is theoretically correct. However, Nobel laureate Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen discussed the difference between principle and justice in his 2009 publication The Idea of Justice. According to Sen, policy is basically statutory social arrangements, which has been mentioned in the Indian Constitution. The establishment of justice depends on implementation of that policy in a perfect manner.

Amartya Sen

Perhaps, the character of Democracy in the US encouraged Rawls to explain the concept of Social Justice by discussing other related issues, like massive policy arrangements, equal opportunities and privileges of the less privileged. Similarly, Sen reached the conclusion that the attempt to establish justice was in fact an endless process due to his experience of Democracy in the Third World. According to the Indian economist, justice is the move to reduce injustice. The concept of justice has been thoroughly discussed in the Constitution of India. Laws, rules and regulations have been made on the basis of the concept of justice, and the Judiciary is safeguarding the Constitution.

That is why the Judiciary has to stay awake even at midnight in an attempt to ensure that the deserving people enjoy justice.

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