Skip to main content

World Social Justice Day: Xenophobia and jingoism seem to be on the rise across the globe as never before

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
“Preventing Conflict and Sustaining Peace through Decent Work” is the theme of the 2017 World Social Justice Day, which will be observed on February 20th. As a justification of the theme the UN lists the following objectives:
(i) to highlight the importance of employment-centred strategies and programs and their contribution to international efforts to prevent conflicts, sustain peace, build resilient societies and promote social justice;
(ii) to explore the intersectionality of employment, peace and social justice across the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development; and 
(iii) to expand knowledge sharing and collaboration with the UN system and other key stakeholders on effective strategies for peace, social justice and development.
Both the theme and the objectives are certainly laudable! Wars and conflicts have held centre-stage across the globe in the last few years. It has cost the world enormously in every sense of the word. 
With over 65 million people as refugees or internally displaced and with numbers growing – the need and importance to prevent conflict and to ensure sustainable peace should necessarily be topmost on the World Agenda. Providing ‘decent work’ (as the UN puts it) is a key social justice factor that could lead to a more sustainable global peace.
The moot point to be considered is whether those who control the destinies of nations today can honestly demonstrate the political will towards the realisation of the theme. In a concept note for the day, the UN says:
“Peaceful and inclusive societies, as well as decent work and equitable growth, are key priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda states that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and encourages member States to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights.”
An ideal certainly not negotiable or debatable; but several of the world leaders do not seem to be on the same page! Political leadership in many countries today seem to doing exactly the opposite. The US President is keen on building walls and keeping out even legitimate refugees and immigrants. The Palestinians are forced to live in a hostile environment, since Israel just does not pay heed to world opinion. No one seems to be serious in preventing and ending wars and conflicts. Why would they? 
Many of them are conveniently tied up to the profiteering military- industrial establishment. The only way to stop wars, as everyone knows, is to halt the production of arms and ammunition; to make disarmament and denuclearisation a reality. 
Tragically, the spending on military warfare has been escalating in most countries (for example, India’s ‘defence’ budget!); besides, spending in the social sector like on health, education and the creation of employment (or as the UN says ‘decent work’) is drastically decreased.
Every effort must be made to ensure ‘decent work’ – for those who need it. This would entail ensuring that the rights of the workers are respected with a just wage, reasonable working hours, social security and other benefits. 
One should also make sure that the refugees and other displaced are not exploited. Unfortunately today social discrimination and exclusion; xenophobia and jingoism seems to be on the rise as never before. 
India is in the midst of an election season. The divide-and-rule campaign, by sections of the political class is a blatant human rights violation. The primary objective of winning an election is no longer about serving the people, but rather of how one can selfishly accumulate more power and wealth. 
As said earlier, the numbers of refugees and IDPs continue to grow: from Syria to South Sudan; the world witnesses the suffering of the Rohingyas of Myanmar and the Yezidis of Iraq who face genocide. 
Be it the child soldiers of Colombia or those who labour in the sweatshops of China, there are today, millions of children who are deprived of their childhood. Human trafficking pays rich dividends to the unscrupulous and other vested interests. 
 In the midst of such a grim and complex reality, can one actually talk of preventing conflict and sustaining peace and much more, providing decent work particularly to the refugee, to the migrant and to the displaced?
It is ten years since World Social Justice Day was launched in 2007 and it comes as a very powerful reminder to all that, “social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. 
We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”
What is certainly heartening , is that the concept note this year provides a frame-work emphasizing that, “for communities and individuals, participation in the reconstruction can provide job creation and initial income, skills and entrepreneurship development that are essential means for recovery and development, confidence building and promotion of equality and social justice. 
Employment is key in reaching out to young people to help build more resilient societies as well as vital in reintegrating crisis affected societies and specific groups such as former combatants, refugees, IDPs, returnees, and provide opportunities for the most vulnerable in fragile, conflict and disaster settings”.
In doing so a tone is set: that the world leaders need to get their act together as soon as possible; to prevent conflict and in no way exacerbate it; to promote peace and ensure that it sustains and above all, to realise that providing necessary decent work to all, especially for the youth will go a long way in establishing a more just and equitable world. 
The right notes, the right tone- hopefully, it will ultimately become music for those who matter!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How Madhya Pradesh cops, ABVP 'pressured' varsity to cancel scientific temper webinar

Apoorvanand, Gauhar Raza Counterview Desk  An online petition, signed* by over a thousand citizens -- mainly activists and academics -- titled “Attack on scientific temper”, floated by the civil rights group Anhad, has strongly protested against  to use of administration to cancel an International Webinar on Cultural and Linguistic Hurdles in the Achievement of Scientific Temper under the pressure of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP's student wing.