The missing ‘JUSTICE’

published on March 4, 2013

This is with reference to Sudheendra Kulkarni’s ‘PC’s flawed mool mantra’(March 3rd IE) I was scanning the news on the Budget and nowhere did I find the essence for equitable growth. The one word that was missing and sadly so was JUSTICE. One can have growth –which can be lopsided in spite of the oft repeated inclusiveness .But Justice is what makes growth equitable and brings in the core of ethics in the whole road map towards development. That PC Chidambaram missed this reveals a mindset which is prevalent with the political nehas. If only we can have progress with Justice then there will be harmonious and inclusive growth. Growth by itself cannot be progress and development. It can in fact be anti-development. The inching of India towards a Banana republic is a sign of this growth without justice. There is no thought of ethics. In all that we do-in all that is planned for the country’s onward march the two essential ingredients are ethics and Justice.

All the maladies and ills of society-the violence and the brutality of violence can all be traced to the lack of ethics. This cannot be automatically envisaged. It has to be pronounced and willfully planned out. It must be reflected in every move the Finance Minister plans. For example taxing the super rich is one such ethical move. Netting the poorest of the poor is another. But using religion to identify the poorest of the poor irrespective of the Sachar report cannot be called ethically because it is unconstitutional. If the Muslim brethren are poor it is automatic that they will be netted in by using economic yardsticks. This is ethical and urgently called for by any nation which wants a equitable growth.

Justice has to be focused-not allowed to somehow become an ‘inclusive’ criterion. Justice for all calls for targeting not only the poorest of the poor but also the super rich. One, to level down the hills, and the other, to fill up the valleys. Only then can there be harmony. Justice, also brings in the concept of the rights of the deprived. The word is not merely poor but deprived .Which means they have been wronged-one sees there is injustice in not sharing the fruits of the earth-the wealth of this country cannot belong to the mighty and the powerful.

The wealth of this country belongs to the people of this country-the powerless and the asset less. Once this is accepted then the criteria to focus will be the powerless and the assetless.It is here that children and women come in. So at every phase of planning and distribution of the budgetary allocation the need is to highlight Justice. Without  Justice there can be no peace and harmony.It is not sufficient just to raise the taxes. A pull up there and a  pull down here makes no sense unless the ‘Pulls are justified and essential to level the ground and share what is rightful.It is not mercy or benevolence neither patronage that is called.This is where the NAC must sit up .Most the plans of the NAC clearly shows a patronizing attitude.This is unjust and identifies people for crumbs.If we have posh multi facility  hospitals in the country and if that is not sufficient enough then we can go abroad for treatment-lets give the rural poor a clinic with no medicine or doctors.If we have the best land-grab more and lets push the poor to the fringes of the gutter. If we have a basket of alternatives-bread and butter and jam and meat and fish and eggs-and all that’s good lets give the poor some subsidized wheat. ‘The best for me and the worst for you’. This calls for attitudinal change and the concept of Justice to be incorporated in every phase and plan of the planning process.

The prism for development must then be Justice and this cannot come without ethics. All the Rights are anchored on this. It is not on the sheer goodwill of the NAC with Mrs Sonia Gandhi as the chairperson to decide on the crumbs that should be thrown to the starving. It is for the Planning Commission to envisage a holistic development which is based on equitable -distribution and it is for the Finance Minister in his budget to allocate the resources according to the rights of the people. It is Justice that must resound throughout and for this one must have an ethical mindset and values that are deeply entrenched in- We the People-The democratic rights of the people and their rightful share is a must for growth. This cannot be based on patronage and should not be seen so. No party can claim the honor of such patronage. Giving people their rightful share in development calls for partnership-collaboration and co-operation.

The Finance minister is good with his vocabulary but missed on these vitals areas. National goal is no mere development but equitable distribution of the fruits of governance. (Provided there is governance.)It is in this context that one must ask why was there no mention of graft and the reason for writing off Hasan Ali Khan’s tax. These are looted wealth of the people. It is hence called for that these must be accounted for-the people must be informed of these-the looted monies must be reclaimed and used towards upholding a growth towards Justice? For in a democracy the people are the owners of the wealth of the country-they have a right not to alms but to their share. One really missed this core ingredient namely- Justice, in the Finance Minister’s ‘verbal sophistry of the Budget presentation. It is a pity.

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