SDG(16) Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in India
Author : Manas Kumar Mishra
Manas Kumar Mishra is the winner of The Woke Lawyer x Confederation of Young Leaders UN75 Article Writing Competition.
There is this strange theory in quantum physics, which suggests that the matter behaves as a particle or wave depending on whether we are observing it or not! Something called Duality. It is difficult to comprehend that particles are behaving as waves only because we are not observing them.
Apply Duality to India and the theory becomes alive. How? Consider the following 2 observations :
Observation 1 Defining India as a federation of several states and a congregation of over 1.3 billion people.
Inference 1 : The vibrant democracy, the intellectual capacity, the economic stability and the military prowess makes her a mighty force to reckon with.
Observation 2 Defining India as an entity of various religious, cultures, political ideologies, financial disparities and societal beliefs.
Inference 2 : The Naxal violence, the financial frauds, the religious crimes, the prevalent corruption, the red-tape, the delayed justice, the inefficient policing and the political-bureaucratic underpinnings makes her a nation in the making, a little fragile but a with a lot of promise.
Let's begin with peace first. Why? Because peace is an outcome or effect while the other two are causes.
Peace is work in progress. India has always tried to find peace within herself under a continual threat of internal issues defined above and external aggression - direct and concealed. That quest for peace has cost India the lives of its citizens, the outflow of funds and the international reputation at times. In fact, peacefulness is a dynamic stable state wherein the country stands firm against an ever forceful set of imploding forces threatening to tear her apart.
Secondly, let's focus on the two causal factors - Justice and Strong Institutions in India.
These two have to be considered in a reverse order so as to understand their causal relationship with peace, the effect.
Strong institutions - the following are the responsibilities assigned to some major institutions in India -
1. Parliament - Enacting laws.
2. Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts and others - Providing justice.
3. Election Commission of India - Conducting election thereby enabling democratic principles.
4. Bureaucratic setup and the Police system including the Central Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence Bureau ad Central Investigation Department among others - Enforcing laws and maintaining order.
5. Securities and Exchange Board of India and Reserve Bank of India - Ensuring lawful, inclusive and just financial practices aligned with the robust macroeconomic principles.
6. The Central and State Pollution Control Boards - Prevention unsustainable industrial practices.
Justice - the foundation pillars of any institution, administration or government are inclusiveness, representation and responsiveness built on human rights and rule of law. It is only when one of the foundations is shaken that the need for justice arises. We have encountered numerous such events in the recent past. Be it the political interference in judicial matters, lower efficiency of of authorities in tackling low profile cases, the insensitive and unverified news reporting, the financial crimes, the lack of voice for the downtrodden, the low policing standards, the mega long pending cases in courts, the religious extremism or the ever prevalent crimes against women, we as a nation have collectively failed each time a justice has been delayed or denied.
Although the courts are supposed to provide justice but the humongous number of pending cases (almost 4 crores) and the lack of required number of judges act as major hindrances. The judicial and police reforms are long overdue but unfortunately, are still elusive.
Having now defined peace, justice and strong Institutions broadly in the Indian context, we may develop a simplistic model so as to get a bird's eye view. Thus, howsoever complicated, the relationship can be surmised in the following way -
Strong Institutions when effective - Rule of law and order prevails and the tenets of equality, human rights and democracy are upheld. This leads to minimization of unjust events and practices leading to a peaceful society.
The exact opposite happens when our Strong Institutions fail and justice is thus compromised. Peace once again becomes a utopian dream.
In these complex times, what India needs is a strong adherence to impeccable democratic principles, an independent setup of our Institutions , a transparent and non authoritative governance, political willingness to bring judicial and administrative reforms and a solid foundation for developing a humane society.
After all, it was in 1947 that a nation dreamt - when the world was just finding peace in the shadows of the Second World War. Let's give peace a second chance.