There are numerous social issues that are affecting our society directly and indirectly in the economic, cultural, legal and political context. When it comes to attainment of justice, everyone is treated equally in the eyes of law but still, the incessant practice of inequality, injustice, and discrimination has eroded our societal values and development. The discrimination based on class, creed, race, caste, disability, age and gender is still highly prevalent in our society. This pervasive practice of discrimination not only infringes human rights but also the mere existence of a human being. Apart from getting equal access to education and employment opportunities, these vulnerable categories of people are often exploited and harassed by society as if it has become a customary practice or superstitious belief to mistreat them.
Stratification of Discriminatory Practices
The concept of westernization, modernization and democratization have been arrogated by Indian society superficially but when it comes to its real application, our rigid suppositions, superstitious beliefs, and customs always supersede. According to Article 14 of the Constitution, everyone is equal in the eyes of law but in practice, it is not the case as there exist discriminatory practices on account of partisanship, favoritism, nepotism, and unfairness. In our society, people have been highly discriminated on the following grounds:
In India due to wealth inequality, there exist upper, middle and lower classes. The classes are segregated on the basis of the economic status of a person. It is generally seen that either the middle class or the lower-class people are denied equal opportunities or are being exploited by the higher class. Till now, the lower class people are not fully accepted and regarded in social fronts, educational institutions, employment, and other institutions.
Discrimination Based on Religion
India is a divine-vibrant land of mixed religions, cultures, and traditions. This land of multiple religions follows Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Jainism. Due to differences in opinions, sometimes religious riots and communal violence outbursts in the cities. Also, getting married in a different religion is still regarded as a social taboo in some families. Hindu-Muslim relations have become better but still, there have been cases where Muslims have experienced attacks by Hindus communities because of alleged cow slaughters as a cow is regarded as a sacred animal in Hindu religion.
Discrimination Based on Ethnicity
India is an ethnically diverse country. Racism is practiced against the North-East Indians, people with dark skin tone and South Indians. Choosing to be born up in a certain race is beyond one’s capability and is God- gifted and hence, everyone must respect and accept the people from other races. Although racial discrimination does not exist in educational institutions and employers, it occurs a more at a personal level i.e. individuals making an unfavorable and discriminative remark on a person belonging to a particular race.
Casteism has posed huge problems in India. It is believed that the caste system has evolved from the four different parts of Lord Brahma’s body. The four castes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras were evolved respectively from the head, arms, belly, and feet of the Lord Brahma. Hence, the division of the caste system in India came from such an incredible belief. As Brahmins came out from the head of the Lord Brahma which carries out mindful and conscious activities and hence, Brahmins were regarded as the intellectuals who were usually the scholars, teachers, and priests. They were regarded as the upper caste people. Kshatriyas came out from the arms of the Lord Brahma which signifies strength and power and hence they were regarded as warriors. They are regarded as second highest caste which constituted the ruling and military class. Vaishyas are third in the distinction of the four Hindu castes and who came out from the belly of Lord Brahma. As belly is the storehouse of food and hence, the Vaishyas were usually engaged in agricultural activities and later served as traders, merchants or business class people. Shudra is the fourth varna and the lowest class in Hindu mythology who came out from the foot of Lord Brahma. As the foot is prone to dirt and hence, they were forced to perform worst jobs such as sweeping & cleaning activities and were regarded as untouchables. Although the Indian society has advanced with regards to the caste inequality still Shudras are starkly underrepresented in the topmost echelon of Indian education, politics, government, and business activities. The Constitution prohibits the practice of untouchability and has provided special provisions for the reservation of the disadvantaged castes in order to grant them equal access to education and employment opportunities. The reservation has blazed controversies as it has denied equal opportunities to the deserving candidate. Also, honor killings are still prevalent in North India i.e., when a woman marries a man of a lower caste, either she or her husband is killed by her family members as she is perceived to brought disgrace on the family.
Discrimination based on disability
In India, the (physically and mentally) disabled people are discriminated in getting job opportunities. They are often ignored and ridiculed by the members of the society. Unlike in developed countries, there are no special provisions (such as lifts & special escalators in public places, comfortable washrooms, special schools for mentally challenged people and charities) for them.
There is no codified law in India which deals with the issue of age discrimination. The law provides protection from discrimination based on caste, class, race, religion, sex, and disability but it is silent about age discrimination. It has been observed that people have been discriminated because of their age while enrolling themselves in educational institutions, applying for jobs and have faced early retirement (either because of their age or marriage). It has been observed some people retire at the age of 20s whereas some people succeed at the age of 50s. Age is just a number and hence should not bar anyone from continuing their profession or getting enrolled in educational institutions. Skill and talent of a person should outweigh over the age of a person.
The country where both god and goddesses are equally revered, it becomes unjust to carry out discriminatory practices against any gender. In patriarchal Indian society, women are regarded as inferior to men in terms of physical strength, mental capability, and emotional quotient. As after marriage they are supposed to go to her husband’s home, therefore, many parents are reluctant to invest in the education of their girl child. Rather than spending on her education, they spend all their hard-earned earnings in organizing her marriage functions and dowry. Women in the fashion and aviation industries are granted early retirement in contrast to men. Also, there exists the problem of the sexual exploitation of women in the workforce. There are not enough women in military services, businesses, and politics. Furthermore, a crime against women is quite high. They become a victim of female foeticide & infanticide, domestic violence, dowry, sexual abuse, rape (including marital rape), abduction, acid attack, honor killings, forced prostitution, witchcraft-related murders, and forced child marriage. The law safeguards the interest of women however, there are cases where women have taken undue advantage of the law by implicating false cases against men. Every person must be respected despite their gender. Offenses against women must be curtailed and there must be equal access to education and employment opportunities for women as ‘when you educate a woman, you educate the whole family.’
Class, creed, race, caste, disability, age and gender inequality is a ubiquitous problem. The developed countries are well off in tackling these issues as compared to the developing countries. Although the law is apposite to safeguard the interest of the society against discrimination in practice, it has failed to do so. Hence, more focus must be laid down in the proper implementation of the law to get better upshots. There is the need of the hour to put the black letters of the judiciary into practice.