Essay and Answer Writing

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” [2004/2005]

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” - These powerful words were penned in a letter from a prison cell of Birmingham Jail in 1963, by one of America's best known advocate of equal rights - Martin Luther King, Jr. He wished to direct everyone’s attention to the fact that every human on this planet was tied with the same thread of mutuality - whatever affected one directly, would affect all indirectly. Hence injustice with one individual of a society can affect the life of another. This quote is about a system with bias. A system that targets some people while letting others escape. An uneven and unjust system. The quote urges us to work towards being as even as we can, so all may have justice. In doing so, we must also make sure that justice is meted out in due time, because as the saying goes – “justice delayed is justice denied”. 
 
What does justice mean?
Justice is a form of activity, consisting of examining and resolving cases by the court referred to its competence - criminal offenses, civil disputes, etc. The execution of the court is carried out in the order established by law. But this is only one meaning of justice. There is also a philosophical point of view that describes this meaning more holistically. A significant contribution to the philosophical understanding of the justice and its role in human history was made by Immanuel Kant and Hegel. They tried to describe the meaning of justice through the influence of ontological coordinates of the right on the court in the system of social interactions. In the “Phenomenology of Spirit” Hegel explains the nature of justice, linking it with the problem of the relationship of an individual with the society in general. According him, the right to a court is rooted in the contradiction of the very process of the formation of public authority institutions.
 
The works of contemporary philosophers Albert Camus and Franz Kafka played a significant role in the understanding of justice itself. The evolution of liberal ideology, the crisis of the traditional system of values for European culture led to the loss of the possibility of an autonomous validation of the right to court in the modern society.
 
However, the problem of definition  “justice” lies in not only in the relations between branches of power, but the problem of the fundamental rights and freedoms of man, citizen, and individual. In a developed civil society, on the one hand, the judiciary exercises the role of arbitrator in disputes between legislators and the administration, and on the other hand, political action is proved to be fair if it uses the methods of justice. In modern civil society, it is the judiciary, the court, and justice that appear in the unity of their socio-political and spiritual-cultural meanings, acting as the main guarantees of law abiding government. The importance of justice today manifests itself in litigations that highlight the problems of society and identify possible ways to solve them. 
 
Why is justice important?
Injustice negates justice, human actions that abuses the privileges of others and care less about their dignity and emotions can be termed injustice. Different societies have varying ideologies about justice and injustice - cases that are considered just in one society may be unjust in another society, but there are cases that are common and are generally seen as unacceptable by the average person and beyond that, it is sanctioned by a court of law to be an act of injustice. It cuts across verbal abuses, emotional distress, physical assault, forceful dispossession, human right abuses etc. Many examples of injustice include: racism, abuse, discrimination, gender inequality, starvation, poverty, politics of self-interest, ethnic polarization, religious prejudice etc.
 
Forms of justice
Throughout history various theories have been established: 
·Advocates of divine command theory have said that justice issues from God. 
·In ancient Indian society, justice was associated with dharma and maintaining dharma or a just social order, was considered to be a primary duty of kings. 
·In China, Confucius, the famous philosopher argued that kings should maintain justice by punishing wrong doers and rewarding the virtuous.
·In the 1600s, philosophers like John Locke said that justice derives from natural lawSocial contract theory said that justice is derived from the mutual agreement of everyone. 
·In the 1800s, utilitarian philosophers like John Stuart Mill said that justice is based on the best outcomes for the greatest number of people. Theories of distributive justice study what is to be distributed, between whom they are to be distributed, and what is the ‘proper’ distribution. 
·Egalitarians have said that justice can only exist within the coordinates of equality. 
·John Rawls used a social contract theory to say that justice, and especially distributive justice, is a form of fairness.
·Robert Nozick and others said that property rights, also within the realm of distributive justice and natural law, maximises the overall wealth of an economic system. 
·Theories of retributive justice say that wrongdoing should be punished to insure justice. 
·Restorative justice or reparative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims and offenders.
 
The idea that justice involves giving each person his due continues to be an important part of our present day understanding of justice. However, our understanding of what is due to a person has changed from the time of Plato. Today, our understanding of what is just is closely linked to our understanding of what is due to each person as a human being. According to Immanuel Kant, all human beings possess dignity. If everyone is granted dignity, then they have the opportunity to develop their talents and pursue their goals.
 
Although there might be broad agreement in modern society about the equal importance of all people, it is not a simple matter to decide how to give each person their due. A number of different principles have been put forward in this regard:
·One of the principles is the principle of treating equals equally - Some of the important rights which are granted in most liberal democracies today include civil rights such as the rights of life, liberty and property, political rights like the right to vote, which enable people to participate in political processes, and certain social rights which would include the right to enjoy equal opportunities with other members of the society.
·Proportionate Justice - provided everybody starts from the same base line of equal rights, justice in such cases would mean rewarding people in proportion to the scale and quality of their effort. Most people would agree that although people should get the same reward for the same work, it would be fair and just to reward different kinds of work differently if we take into account factors such as the effort required, the skills required, the possible dangers involved in that work, etc.
·Special needs - The principle of taking account of the special needs of people does not necessarily contradict the principle of equal treatment so much as extend it because the principle of treating equals equally could imply that people who are not equal in certain important respects could be treated differently.
 
Conclusion
The importance of diversity is paramount in the multicultural world we live in, and injustice in any facet of society will prove detrimental to our development and well-being as a whole. Injustice to one culture means potential injustice to all cultures including section of the majority culture. Just because someone is of a different religion, or has a different history, or has a different education, or a different sexual preference, or a different ethnic background, a different sex, or different mental capabilities, one would be unwise to tolerate injustice towards them. To end with another quote by Martin Luther Jr. ““We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 



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