“How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see?” asks Bob Dylan, when hundreds of melancholic tales such as refugee crisis, discrimination against women, marginalization of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and human trafficking permeate our world and we just let them go unnoticed and disdained without empathy?
In an advanced world, pretension is quite a paradox. Rights of equality, justice and liberty are enshrined in every constitution of the world; yet, uncivilized practices still exist. Certain sections of people tend to exclude others through various practices such as stereotypes, stigmas and superstitions based on gender, religion and so on. Such practices rob them of the dignity, security and the opportunity to live a decent life.
In some parts of the world, the Alan Kurdi’s tale continues to be washed ashore as the plight of the refugees/migrants remains unaddressed. In India, the dalits, who occupy the lowest stratum of Hindu society, suffer from socio-economic discrimination, indignity and violence. In all of India, an estimate of 40,801 atrocities against the dalits were recorded in 2016; and against the SCs, 214 incidents of crimes were recorded.
Intertwined with these dreadful perils, inequality, a feature of sidelining the marginalized is on the rise. Forbes’ 2018 rich list has a record of 2,208 billionaires worldwid. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of their wealth is the product of wrongful inheritance, monopoly and cronyism. In India, Oxfam reported that 73 % of the wealth went to the richest one percent, while 67 crore Indians saw one percent increase in their wealth.
Stories of suffering, oppression and inequality are real and acute. The gloomy scenario demands that our minds be prodded with questions and reflections as to why social problems continue to be rampant across the world. The constitution of every country emphasises the core values of protection,dignity and social welfare. However, today the programs and policies seem to only create a dichotomy. The corporates or capitalists, who enjoy favors from the government, reap enormous benefits at the expense of others. Leaders across the globe seem to propagate and place the maniac of progress in the hands of the powerful, assess the rate of growth but seldom examine who are excluded in the process and why. As it seems, the ideals of equal protection, justice, equality and fraternity are only a foray created to cover the human tendency of social exclusion.
So, what are the measures to solve the crisis?
The present generation has all the power to remedy the consequences of social exclusion but, with cold indifference refuses to do so. We can no longer shy away from the bleak harrowing stories. Rejecting differences that cause injustices and all kinds of discriminations, we must start walking hand in hand and take care of each other- and this is Noam Chomsky’ s concept of “protection”- for a positive transformation to take place in our society. Denouncing injustices and discriminations may not suffice; concrete guidelines and viable solutions must be thought of. Human tendency may tend to belief that everything is well (like politicians do), but the people of all sections must strive to advance human wellbeing globally. With the advancement in every field, the world is capable of reshaping the world through collective social responsibility. Therefore, two possible steps:
Heightening social consciousness: Introducing literature that integrates social consciousness and social responsibility could help reshape our society. The youth could engage in debates and social interactions to understand the dynamics of the society. In this way, they can get good knowledge of the society and can help organize a better society.
Social engagement: This can be done through visits, awareness program on various schemes meant for the less privileged. One example could be- sahaya program where the youth go to the peripheries to explore, experience first-hand what others go through.
Lastly, “Leaving no one behind” (UNDP), does not have to remain a prelude. A stronger focus on those marginalized has to be materialized through direct confrontation of the-deep rooted barriers that limit the opportunities of the less privileged to influence the policies and institutions that determine their lives.