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7. A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.

  Introduction :

In the realm of justice and societal welfare, the words of philosopher John Rawls resonate with profound significance: “ Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. ” Rawls, a prominent figure in political philosophy, underscored the paramount importance of justice as the foundational principle upon which harmonious and equitable societies are built.

Justice, as he contended, stands as the foremost virtue in social institutions—a virtue that, when upheld, can alleviate the need for excessive charity. Charity , though a noble and compassionate endeavour, often addresses the symptoms of societal injustices rather than their root causes. However, Rawls’s insight prompts us to consider that a just society strives not merely to provide for the disadvantaged but also to rectify the systemic issues that breed inequality, poverty, and social disparities.

Essence of the topic :

It underscores the idea that while charity serves as a compassionate response to immediate needs, a just society seeks to address the systemic issues that give rise to those needs. In essence, the more just a society is, the less it relies on charity as a means of mitigating inequality, poverty, and social disparities.

Thesis statement :

In this essay, we delve into the profound correlation between justice and charity, exploring how societies that prioritize justice can significantly reduce their reliance on charitable acts.

Justice in Society:

  • Quote : “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Defining Justice : Justice, at its core, is the fair and impartial treatment of individuals and groups within a society. It encompasses notions of equality, human rights, and the rule of law.
  • Philosophers of Justice : Philosophers like John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Martha Nussbaum have contributed significantly to our understanding of justice. Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness and Sen’s capability approach offer frameworks for creating just societies.
  • Fostering Equality : Justice serves as the cornerstone of an equitable society. It ensures that all individuals have equal access to opportunities, resources, and protections, regardless of their background or circumstances.
  • Legal Justice : Legal systems are designed to uphold justice by ensuring that laws are applied consistently and fairly. Examples of legal justice include the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty .
  • Social Justice : Social justice addresses systemic inequalities and discrimination. It strives to rectify historical injustices and create a society where everyone has a chance to thrive. Initiatives like affirmative action aim to achieve social justice.
  • Economic Justice : Economic justice seeks to reduce disparities in wealth and income. Progressive taxation, minimum wage laws, and social welfare programs are mechanisms that promote economic justice.

Relationship between Justice and Charity:

  • Quote : “Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it.” – John D. Rockefeller
  • Complementary but distinct concepts : While justice focuses on systemic fairness and equitable treatment, charity addresses immediate needs through voluntary acts of giving.
  • Charity as a response to injustice : Often, charity arises from the recognition of injustices within society. It provides temporary relief to those who have been disadvantaged by systemic inequalities.
  • Charity’s limitations : Charity, while compassionate, does not address the root causes of inequality and suffering. It can perpetuate dependency and fail to rectify systemic injustices.
  • Justice as a preventive measure : A just society seeks to prevent the need for excessive charity by addressing inequalities, poverty, and social disparities through fair laws, policies, and practices.
  • Equal access to basic needs : Justice ensures that all individuals have equal access to basic needs like education, healthcare, and employment, reducing the reliance on charity to meet these needs.
  • The civil rights movement in the United States sought justice for racial inequalities, eventually leading to policy changes that reduced the need for charity.
  • Countries with robust social welfare systems, such as Sweden and Denmark, have lower poverty rates and, consequently, less reliance on charity.

Critical view:

  • Quote : “Justice delayed is justice denied. In the meantime, charity can provide solace to those in need.”
  • Complementary roles : Charity and justice often operate in tandem, with each playing a distinct yet complementary role in addressing societal issues. While justice seeks systemic change, the charity provides immediate relief.
  • Addressing urgent needs : In situations of dire need, such as natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies, the charity provides swift assistance that justice-oriented policies may not be equipped to deliver in the short term.
  • Limitations of justice : Achieving justice can be a lengthy and complex process, often entangled in bureaucratic hurdles, legal proceedings, and political challenges. In the interim, charity can alleviate suffering.
  • Philanthropy’s role : Charitable organizations and philanthropists often bridge the gap between charity and justice by advocating for systemic changes while addressing immediate needs.
  • In cases of mass displacement due to conflict or disaster , charities like the Red Cross provide essential aid.
  • NGOs like Akshaya Patra are co-opted even by the government to offer charity to those in immediate need, while long-term solutions like affordable housing policies and social safety nets are being worked upon.

“Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” – Saint Augustine

In the grand goal of societal betterment, both justice and charity have their rightful places. Justice provides the foundation upon which we build lasting change, while charity extends a compassionate embrace to those in immediate distress. Together, they harmonize to create a world where suffering is alleviated not only through benevolence but through systemic fairness and equal opportunity.

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[Essay Topic- 6 Mains 2020] There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless.

Introduction, the intricate dance between economic prosperity and social justice has been a central theme in socio-political discourses throughout history. the statement, “there can be no social justice without economic prosperity, but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless,” captures the essence of this relationship, emphasizing the mutual dependence of wealth and fairness., thesis statement, while economic prosperity can provide the resources necessary to achieve social justice, it is the equitable distribution and access to these resources that bestows true meaning and value to prosperity., crux/meaning of the essay, this essay seeks to unravel the intertwined relationship between economic growth and social equity, arguing that the mere presence of wealth in a society is insufficient unless accompanied by justice, fairness, and inclusivity., different dimensions, foundations of social justice: economic prosperity ensures that resources are available. however, social justice ensures that these resources are distributed fairly, allowing all members of society to benefit. meaningful prosperity: wealth and economic growth in a society become meaningful when they uplift all, reduce disparities, and bridge divides, emphasizing the role of social justice in giving value to economic prosperity. sustainability: economic prosperity that doesn’t account for social justice is often short-lived. disparities can lead to social unrest, which in turn can destabilize economies., different perspectives, the economist’s view: they might argue that economic growth is a prerequisite for comprehensive social welfare programs, quality education, healthcare, and other foundations of social justice. the social activist’s perspective: they would stress that economic growth, if not inclusive, can exacerbate inequalities, making the pursuit of social justice even more challenging. the historian’s lens: looking through the annals of history, one can find numerous instances where economic prosperity was hollow due to the absence of social justice, often leading to revolutions, rebellions, and societal upheavals., significance in current context, in an age marked by increasing globalization, the disparity in wealth, and heightened awareness of social injustices, the balance between economic prosperity and social justice is more pertinent than ever. achieving this balance is not just a moral imperative but is crucial for ensuring societal stability, peace, and sustainable progress., economic prosperity and social justice are two sides of the same coin. while prosperity can lay the groundwork for a just society, it is the principles of equity, fairness, and justice that breathe life and meaning into this prosperity. for a society to truly flourish, it must recognize that wealth, in isolation, is an empty metric; its true value is realized only when paired with the principles of justice and inclusivity., related posts:.

  • [Essay Topic- 7 Mains 2023] A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.
  • [Essay Topic- 5 Mains 2020] Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have.

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essay on social justice upsc

Table of Contents

Social Justice (UPSC Mains) – Previous Year Questions

  • The crucial aspect of development process has been the inadequate attention paid to Human Resource Development in India. Suggest measures that can address this inadequacy.
  • Discuss the contribution of civil society groups for women’s effective and meaningful participation and representation in state legislatures in India.
  • “Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable, by its nature, are discriminatory in approach.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.
  • Skill development programmes have succeeded in increasing human resources supply to various sectors. In the context of the statement analyse the linkages between education, skill and employment.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 remains only a legal document without intense sensitisation of government functionaries and citizens regarding disability. Comment.
  • Besides the welfare schemes, India needs deft management of inflation and unemployment to serve the poor and the underprivileged sections of the society. Discuss.
  • Do you agree with the view that increasing dependence on donor agencies for development reduces the importance of community participation in the development process? Justify your answer.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 remains inadequate in promoting incentive-based system for children’s education without generating awareness about the importance of schooling. Analyse.
  • ‘Besides being a moral imperative of a Welfare State, primary health structure is a necessary precondition for sustainable development.” Analyze.
  • “Earn while you learn’ scheme needs to be strengthened to make vocational education and skill training meaningful.” Comment.
  • Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples.
  • “Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu?
  • Can Civil Society and non-Governmental Organizations present an alternative model of public service delivery to benefit the common citizen? Discuss the challenges of this alternative model.
  • Has digital illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, coupled with lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development? Examine with justification.
  • In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss.
  • Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “The incidence and intensity of poverty are more important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyse the latest United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index Report.
  • “Micro-Finance as an anti-poverty vaccine, is aimed at asset creation and income security of the rural poor in India”. Evaluate the role of Self-Help Groups in achieving the twin objectives along with empowering women in rural India.
  • National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient education system in India. Critically examine the statement.
  • Despite Consistent experience of High growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive.
  • There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on Non- Food essential items squeezing their food – budget. Elucidate.
  • “The reservation of seats for women in the institutions of local self- government has had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian Political Process.” Comment.
  • ‘In the context of neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost effective and remove many implementation blockages.’-Discuss.
  • The need for cooperation among various service sector has been an inherent component of development discourse. Partnership bridges bring the gap among the sectors. It also sets in motion a culture of ‘Collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’. In the light of statements above examine India’s Development process.
  • Performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of policy process – Discuss.
  • “The long-sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised Nations has disappeared on account of its new found role in the emerging global order.” Elaborate.
  • Appropriate local community-level healthcare intervention is a prerequisite to achieve ‘Health for All’ in India. Explain.
  • Multiplicity of various commissions for the vulnerable sections of the society to problems of overlapping jurisdiction and duplication of functions. Is it better to merge all commissions into an umbrella Human Rights Commission? Argue your case.
  • How far do you agree with the view that the focus on lack of availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India?
  • ‘To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs, the identification of beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes’ Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme.
  • Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss.
  • Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer.
  • ‘Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India remain mere show pieces until and unless they are backed by political will’. Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation programmes in India.
  • Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance?
  • Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation.
  • “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable?
  • The Self-Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Programme (SBLP). which is India’s own innovation, has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programmes. Elucidate.
  • How can the role of NGOs be strengthened in India for development works relating to protection of the environment? Discuss throwing light on the major constraints.
  • The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss.
  • Public health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives would you suggest?
  • Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators.
  • The penetration of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.
  • Do government’s schemes for up-lifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economics?
  • An athlete participates in Olympics for personal triumph and nation’s glory; victors are showered with cash incentives by various agencies, on their return. Discuss the merit of state sponsored talent hunt and its cultivation as against the rationale of a reward mechanism as encouragement.
  • Should the premier institutes like IITs/IIMs be allowed to retain premier status, allowed more academic independence in designing courses and also decide mode/criteria of selection of students. Discuss in light of the growing challenges.
  • Two parallel run schemes of the Government viz. the Adhaar Card and NPR, one as voluntary and the other as compulsory, have led to debates at national levels and also litigations. On merits, discuss whether or not both schemes need run concurrently. Analyse the potential of the schemes to achieve developmental benefits and equitable growth.
  • The concept of Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme is almost a century old in India with early beginnings in Madras Presidency in pre-independent India. The scheme has again been given impetus in most states in the last two decades. Critically examine its twin objectives, latest mandates and success.
  • The Central Government frequently complains on the poor performance of the State Governments in eradicating suffering of the vulnerable sections of the society. Restructuring of Centrally sponsored schemes across the sectors for ameliorating the cause of vulnerable sections of population aims at providing flexibility to the States in better implementation. Critically evaluate.
  • Electronic cash transfer system for the welfare schemes is an ambitious project to minimize corruption, eliminate wastage and facilitate reforms. Comment.
  • The basis of providing urban amenities in rural areas (PURA) is rooted in establishing connectivity. Comment.
  • Identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are related to health. Discuss the success of the actions taken by the Government for achieving the same.

essay on social justice upsc


Social justice without economic prosperity | Essay | UPSC | IAS | K. Siddhartha Sir

Home » Video Gallery » Essay Bank for IAS » Social justice without economic prosperity | Essay | UPSC | IAS | K. Siddhartha Sir

There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless.

Meaning of economic prosperity, components of economic prosperity economic prosperity.

  • Distribution
  • Sustainability
  • Enlargement of Choice

Spiritual Component

Why to keep anyone unhappy

Meaning of Social Justice

“Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. “Social justice encompasses economic justice.

Social justice is the relation of balance between individuals and society measured by comparing distribution of wealth differences, from personal liberties to fair privilege opportunities. It is often referred to as the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society.

Social justice is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible. While “social justice” as a term sees widespread use these days, it’s not new.

Social justice assigns rights and duties in the institutions of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation. The relevant institutions often include taxation, social insurance, public health, public school, public services, labor law and regulation of markets, opportunity encashment, undescriminated administration, flexibility of institutions and growth, career transitioning choices and an increasing ability to adjust to newly emerging Gig economy along with a will and an ability to ensure fair distribution of wealth, and equal opportunity.

Social justice also refers to an individual’s ability to reform an existing system, ability to bring the society back from disorder, and being a participant along with other policy makers in shaping the future of the country that he envisions, and that there is no obstructing to it.

Social justice is the ability to carve a niche for one’s identify based on one’s ability, talent and will.

Social justice also doesn’t stipulate giving money to people of the society, and make them cash rich, rather it is to empower them to use this money. And more importantly it is about creating opportunities for all the people of the society so that they can utilize their talent and human resource to build an identity.

Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development.”

Social Justice is justice oriented not subject to scrutiny, not open to question/s.

Social justice at the same time is :

  • Equality not sameness
  • Equality of opportunity, e.g., Not being able to realize potential for want of finance and investment.
  • Absence of monopolism, duopolies.

Purpose of Economic Prosperity

Economic prosperity is conceptualized it in very narrow terms. Prosperity is considered synonymous to money. Having money is no doubt a critical aspect of prosperity, but it is just that—one aspect.

if its only oriented towards making more money, if its only for increasing the GDP its worthless as every crime that takes place increases the GDP, all pollutants and its subsequent management increases the GDP, all health problems created increases the GDP but all affect the people and the masses in a very negative manner, and who are all the people who get affected-it’s those who are at the receiving end of economic prosperity. That means if it’s completely capitalistic, it’s no prosperity

Economic Prosperity is essential for serving people, aiding people, improving their lives, by cleansing the systems, reforming situations, finding solutions. Only when such a prosperity exists, social justice is also ensured. Without an ability to serve people, without an ability and willingness to improve the lives and make their thinking progressively better and better, economic prosperity has no meaning at all.

If Economic prosperity gets confined to few hands, If economic prosperity exists only for the sake of some individuals, it’s no prosperity, if economic prosperity gets confined to few houses, few families, few influences, few class or categories of people, it’s no social justice.

The dangers related to economic prosperity is that it is taken advantage of it is made misuse of possibly by some people who are able to wield influence, able to have a policy intervention.

Thus, if economic prosperity exists but exists without social justice then it will be worthless, it will be meaningless

Why economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless

It is not economic prosperity, rather the confinement of wealth in the hands of few people.  A wide disparity will ensue Disparities will mean that prosperity can be sustained.

What is the purpose of prosperity if people are not served, if the prosperity doesn’t permeate to the people, if prosperity doesn’t make the lives better, living conditions better.

There are other aspects of prosperity which without social justice cannot work, and these include

  • robust job market where employment is available and opportunities for advancement abound, This can be best provided by building community training and allowing people to work for as social capital if financial capital is not available.
  • an employment environment where upward mobility is based on hard work and on the acquisition of formal and informal education and training, This will require a competitive and motivating environment
  • a society where invention is encouraged. In a prosperous economy, individuals are able to innovate, creating new and better products, services, and ways of doing things. This requires an aspirational milieu, where identity of the citizens are respected and cared
  • Without social justice, we cannot bring the best from the people, as we cannot create motivating environment for them, an aspirational milieu for them.
  • Economic prosperity must not forget that people always work for themselves for their identity for their aspirations for getting the best of themselves, prosperity must aim at providing these best to the people.
  • A prosperous society also extends far beyond the working world. It includes an aspirational education system where children are taught not only the basics and critical thinking, but given the tools and confidence to aspire and dream.
  • Without social justice, we cannot manage talent and aspirations of the people, we cannot manage creative pursuits that cause are instrumental in bringing true prosperity.
  • It includes a health care system that responds to the needs of the sick but also acts to prevent illness so as to achieve a healthy and productive society. This will require helping each other in an environment where people treated each other as equal
  • It includes a clean and sustainable environment, which can never be an individual effort and will require an equal feeling for the environment, an equal concern
  • It includes and encourages empathy by its citizens to care for the less fortunate and those in need using the most effective means available. This will definitely require a caring attitudeand an attitude where everyone considers others as equal and human beings.
  • In short, our view of a prosperous society is one that affords opportunities to everyone for personal and professional fulfilment, and this cannot take place without people’s participation, without the feelings of people directed towards their environment, their society their country and this can happen only by taking them all together taking them all in same spirit, Any feeling that some are left out of the scope of economic growth and its opportunity will destroy the notion of social justice.

Without social justice, we cannot ensure all round development

Prosperity is not to be kept in lockers, not to be showcased, not to be flaunted, and even if it is to be flaunted it has to be by making the people prosperous.

Social Justice distributed over people, in their satisfaction, in their contribution in their happiness happens to be the best indicator.

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essay on social justice upsc

How to Study Indian Society & Social Justice For UPSC Mains

  • Categories UPSC General Studies
  • Published 20th Jul, 2021

essay on social justice upsc

India is a country that is marked by humongous variety in virtually every aspect of social life. India witnesses diversities in terms of ethnic, linguistic, regional, economic, religious, class, and caste groups. This diversity is also permeated with immense urban-rural differences and gender distinctions. India is perhaps one country in the world where changes are found in terms of caste, language and culture. Multifaceted nature of Indian society makes it distinguishable from other great and old civilization of world. Despite the widespread diversity and complex nature of Indian life prevalent cultural practices bind them into one thread of social harmony and order.

Apart from Indian History, World History, and Physical Geography, Indian society and social justice has also been given a significant place in GS Paper -1 of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam . Indian society and social justice could appear an easy section for those aspirants who have taken Sociology subject as their optional but for others this portion might appear a bit cumbersome and hence could pose difficulties in fetching marks. Before jumping to the strategy for Indian society and social justice it is important to understand the UPSC syllabus of Indian Society .

Syllabus of Indian Society:

Indian Society has been put in GS mains paper 1 along with History, World History, and Geography. However as per the UPSC syllabus one has to focus on certain key areas only that have been mentioned below:

  • Salient features of  Indian Society , Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and
  • Developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Books and Resources:

Indian Society has been included in the syllabus of UPSC mains exam along with Social Justice . Before moving to standard books it is advisable to go through NCERT books to get some basic idea about society and problems plaguing the society. The following NCERT books must be referred to strengthen the basics:

  • NCERT Class 11 – Introducing Sociology
  • NCERT Class 11 – Understanding Society
  • NCERT Class 12 – Indian Society
  • NCERT Class 12 – Social Change & Development in India

Advance Books and Resources:

  • IGNOU Material – Development
  • IGNOU Material – Sociology
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja.
  • Indian Society (A General Overview) - Dr. B Ramaswamy
  • Online Study Materials and PDFs provided by GS Score.
  • Newspapers like The Hindu and The Indian Express for current updates
  • Magazines EPW and Frontline

Note: Keep a close vigil on social happenings, new bills related to the society etc. Only an outline of the areas to be covered under the section and strategy to cover them is discussed in this article.

Strategy To Cover Indian Society:

Indian Society is perhaps one of the easiest section in GS Paper 1 as it aims to check your perception and analytical approach to Indian Society and its problems. Unlike other sections it does not demand very precise knowledge and mugged up facts. UPSC has included this section in the exam just to see how you will respond to a section of society and the problems faced by the people belonging to specific section of the Indian Society .

An easy way to identify the features of Indian Society is to take a broader look from outside. One need to have a bird eye view to understand the intricacies. As a beginner, assume the perspective of a foreigner visiting India and try to see Indian Society through his eyes.

Diversity of Indian Society

Diversity in Indian Society is multifaceted but UPSC has emphasized on only few areas that need to be prepared. UPSC has included the following diversities exclusively in its syllabus:

Diversity in terms of:

  • Language – 22 scheduled Languages and various minor languages and dialects.
  • Religion – 80% Hindus, 14 % Muslims, 2 % Christians, 2 % Sikhs etc.
  • Race – Aryan, Dravidian, Mongoloids, Negritoes, etc
  • Culture etc.

The next important area is the  problems in Indian Society . Is Indian Society well and fine? Are we all civilized and developed? Do all sections of people think in a rational and scientific way? Are we a society of peace and freedom? Are there people who live in poverty, illiteracy, exploitation etc?

Problems of Indian Society

Society without problems and issues is beyond imagination. The society is an amalgamation of many things such as caste, culture, races, languages etc. Indian Society too has been plagued with many issues and problems due to prevailing diversity. Casteism is one of the problems that has further sprouted many other issues and problems. A deep rooted Caste System is unique to India, and it still has its impact in the 21st-century society and even in modern vote bank politics.

Religious orthodoxy and discrimination is another problem that stems from existence of multi religious Indian Society . India has witnessed a progressive nature by embracing other religions yet the multiplicity of religions in India is exploited by many anti-Indian elements to spread communalism.

Inequality has also given birth to many other problems such as Poverty, hunger, corruption and unemployment. There is an existence of social, economic and political inequality. The result of these inequalities is that Dalits and Tribals are still backward. Even after 65 years of Independence, not all of them attained an equal status with the rest of the Indian Society . Gender inequality is also a rampant issue in India. Even after so much years after independence women in general are facing discrimination and lagging behind in many areas. Educational development has made them empowered and independent yet the issues like domestic violence, dowry and rape still prevalent in the Indian Society . Children are also facing problems like malnutrition and hunger. As per a report malnutrition is as high as 40% among the children of India.

Indian Society , in general, can be said to be a peace loving society. We are neither too conservative nor too liberal. As a developing nation, we have our own limitations, but only a rational and scientific thinking Indian Society can bring positive changes. Literacy in India stands at 75% but superstitions and orthodox traditions are still embedded in the Indian Society .


  • Population and associated issues.
  • Developmental issues.
  • Problems of Urbanization.
  • Effects of globalization.
  • Social backwardness
  • Communalism
  • Regionalism

Social Justice:

Social Justice can be seen as panacea to many problems. It is a tool aiming to eradicate inequalities in society, ensuring economic upliftment of vulnerable and backward section of Indian society , establishment of a democratic system, mitigate sufferings and provide legal justice to those who have been oppressed at the hand of influential and powerful section of Indian society . Social justice can be seen as a dynamic tool to improve the conditions of the marginalized sections of the Indian society .

The suggestions and strategy discussed above can be fruitful only if the proper revision and answer writing practice is done without any glitches. Try to integrate current affairs with the static portion so that the contemporary changes can be incorporated effectively. Also try to develop an analytical and critical approach for your answers thus making your answer unique and different from others.

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Social Justice

  • Last Updated : 17-Apr-2022
  • Assuring the protection of equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities.
  • Taking care of the least advantaged members of society.
  • It seeks to achieve economic justice without any violent conflict.
  • It is equated with rule of law.
  • Equality: We should shift from equality of outcomes to equality of opportunities.
  • Peace and Order : If the majority disregards smaller sections in the community, it drives them to rebellion.
  • Dignity: To ensure life to be meaningful and livable with human dignity.
  • Mitigate Sufferings: It is a dynamic device to mitigate the sufferings of the poor, weak Dalits, tribals’ and deprived sections of the society.
  • Human Resources: It will help in the conservation of human resource by provision of health and education facilities.
  • Freedom to form political, economic or religious institutions: It will help to eradicate the challenges of caste system, untouchability and other discrimination in the society.
  • Improved status of women: Ill practices of dowry, female foeticide would decline. It can also address the issues declining sex ratio and limited education opportunities for girls.
  • Legal Justice: which means that the system of administration of justice must provide a cheap, expeditious and effective instrument for realization of justice by all sections of the people irrespective of their social or economic position or their financial resources Social justice is a dynamic tool to improve the conditions of the marginalised sections of the society. If implemented in letter and spirit can help ensure human dignity and equal opportunities.

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UPSC Essay Q7: A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.

essay on social justice upsc

Q7: A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The myth of Prometheus in Greek mythology signifies how an act of charity can catalyse the process of justice in society. Prometheus, a Titan, was famous for his charitable and humane nature. When he saw how humans remain at mercy of Gods for fire and warmth, he decided to steal the fire from Mount Olympus and give it to humans. Empowered with the knowledge of fire, humans were no longer dependent on Gods for the same and could use that knowledge for their survival and progress. As they say, there are no free lunches in this world, the justice for humans came at a price that was paid by Prometheus. He was cursed to roll up the huge stone ball along the mountain till the end of time.

Charity and justice are two of the most cherished values of humankind. They have been both seen and propagated with great Vigor to promote welfare of all. While justice refers to the fair and equitable treatment of individuals and groups in a society, charity involves the act of giving or aiding, often in the form of resources, services, or support, to individuals or groups who are in need or facing hardship. Objective of both may seem similar on the surface, however they may vary greatly when it comes to impact and implications in the long run.

A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. This statement highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of social problems, rather than simply providing temporary solutions through charitable acts. A just society is one where every individual has equal access to resources and opportunities, and where social and economic inequalities are minimized. Society that has more justice is one where individuals are able to access the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

In a society where justice is the norm, charity becomes an exception. Such an approach is seen in the case of Nordic Countries where the Nordic method of justice is prevalent. In this scheme of things, a set of principles and policies are designed that aim to reduce the need for charitable assistance by promoting social and economic justice. These systems provide a safety net for citizens by offering universal healthcare, free or heavily subsidized education, unemployment benefits, and other forms of social support. This approach to justice seeks to ensure that all citizens have access to essential services and resources, reducing the likelihood of extreme poverty or severe need. The goal is to prevent these problems at their root, rather than relying solely on charitable interventions to alleviate their consequences.

When seen in the Indian context, the example of caste and economically based reservation aims to do the same. Some sections of society have been mistreated historically and this resulted in their stunted growth which was mostly charity driven. Indian Constitution makers understood this thing and implemented a scheme of affirmative action. That would help these sections get equality of opportunity to good life thus promoting social and economic justice. Not only did it reduce their dependence on charitable means but made them independent and self-reliant, ultimately promoting smooth integration and cohesion in society.

The objective of any just society is to promote holistic justice and make its individuals capable enough to build a good and independent life for A just society ensures that educational opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. Quality education can empower individuals to escape poverty. Finland is often cited for its equitable education system, where students receive a high-quality education regardless of their background. This approach helps reduce educational disparities and the need for charitable interventions in education.

Beyond education, justice-focused policies prioritize equal access to essential resources such as healthcare, education, and housing. When these needs are met for all citizens, the demand for charity decreases. In countries with universal healthcare systems, like Canada and the United Kingdom, people have access to medical services regardless of their income. This reduces the need for charitable healthcare services. Whereas when compared to societies which have high inequality and corruption, charity remains the primary safety net for individuals seeking healthcare support.

In a just society, individuals are not discriminated against based on their race, gender, sexuality, or other factors. They are able to participate fully in the economy and society, and are not excluded from opportunities due to systemic barriers. In such a society, there would be fewer individuals in need of charity. This is because they would have the means to support themselves and their families. Take the example of Indian social empowerment. Education and skill development among women lead to justice delivery and it lead to just society. So now dependency on Charity reduced for women empowerment .

Though charity is one revered virtue across all religions and societies, it cannot be seen as a substitute or an alternative to justice. Charity is important to alleviate human suffering and promote equality in society, but its impact is often short term and marginal. It can be seen as a component of social welfare efforts, particularly in mixed economies. However, some economists consider the potential negative incentive effects of charity. They argue that overly generous charitable assistance can discourage individuals from seeking employment or self-sufficiency. Thus, charity can be insufficient for achieving a just society because it relies on voluntary giving, which can be inconsistent and insufficient to address systemic inequalities.

Moreover, over reliance on charity can reduce the pace of justice in a society. Over Reliance on charity can lead to a lack of systemic change. It may allow governments and institutions to avoid addressing root causes of poverty, inequality, and injustice, as they might assume that charitable organizations will fill the gaps. Countries like Pakistan often depend on charity from benefactors, and this charity often rotates in the system as corruption, thus hollowing out the whole nation from within.

One can also argue that charity in the global south is often linked with corruption and lack of accountability. Charitable organizations may not be as accountable as governments to the populations they serve. This can result in a lack of transparency, oversight, and mechanisms for addressing grievances. Many NGOs getting aid from foreign nations have been working for vested interests and not really in the business of promoting justice. Even in the case of private individuals, charity often becomes the means to whitewash the black money or hide the inhumane criminal acts.

When seen from a geopolitics lens, charity from the developed world to developing countries comes at a huge cost. Be it China, which gives economic debts but in return claims sovereignty for some part of that debtor nation, or IMF bailouts that come with harsh policy changes that might affect the socio-political fabric in the society. Also, there is inherent inconsistency and unpredictability attached to charity. It makes the whole process of development and promotion of justice shaky and inconsistent in return. Thus, while charity can provide essential relief in times of crisis, a just society should prioritize systemic changes and government policies that address root causes and promote fairness and equity for all.

Justice serves as the foundation upon which charitable efforts are built. While the objective of any progressive society should be to promote justice, the dependence of charity should be seen as a catalyst for promoting justice. In times of emergencies, like natural disasters, the importance of charity becomes unquestionable, but the larger perspective should not be eclipsed over. However, while charity can provide immediate relief, it is often seen as complementary to systemic solutions aimed at addressing the root causes of injustices. Both are necessary for comprehensive change.

However, achieving a just society is not easy. It requires addressing systemic issues present in society since ancient time. poverty Economic inequality, gender violence, exclusion etc creating concern for achieving just society. It also requires a commitment to social and economic justice, and a willingness to challenge existing power structures. This can be a difficult and complex process, but it is essential if we want to create a society that is truly just and equitable.

One of the key ways to achieve a more just society is through policy change . This includes measures such as provide educational opportunities, giving skills, making different policies for vulnerable students etc . It also involves addressing systemic issues such as caste violence, religion violence and regional disparities as well. By implementing policies that promote equality and fairness, we can create a society where individuals are able to access the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

Another important factor in creating a just society is community engagement. This involves working with community members to identify the root causes of social problems and develop solutions that are tailored to their specific needs. It also involves building relationships of trust and mutual respect, and empowering individuals to take ownership of their own lives and communities.

In this respect the ideas of Amartya Sen become important. His capability approach places a central focus on individuals’ capabilities and freedom to lead the kind of lives they value. It emphasizes the importance of enhancing individuals’ capabilities and opportunities through education, healthcare, and access to resources. This aligns with the idea that charity should aim to empower people to lead dignified lives. He argues that a combination of charity and public policies is necessary to address the complex challenges of poverty and inequality.

Further, In the context of global charity and justice, Sen’s views underscore the importance of international cooperation and assistance to address disparities between developed and developing nations. He emphasizes the need for a global approach to justice and equity. Taking a cue, nations and societies in present time should understand that while charity can only band aid a problem, to sincerely address the root cause, justice approach in the long term is unavoidable.

To conclude, justice and charity are interconnected in a symbiotic relationship. While justice provides the ethical and moral framework for a fair society, charity serves as a practical tool for addressing the immediate consequences of injustice and empowering individuals and communities to work toward a more equitable future. Together, they contribute to the development of compassionate, inclusive, and just societies.

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essay on social justice upsc

Social Justice Syllabus for UPSC

The Social Justice Syllabus for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) reflects the commitment to fostering a deeper understanding of the complex issues surrounding social justice in the Indian context. The syllabus encompasses a comprehensive exploration of historical and contemporary perspectives on caste, gender, religion, and other dimensions of social inequality. It delves into the constitutional provisions and legal frameworks aimed at promoting social justice, such as affirmative action policies and anti-discrimination laws. The syllabus also includes the study of socio-economic disparities, marginalized communities, and the challenges they face in accessing education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Additionally, candidates are encouraged to critically examine the impact of globalization, urbanization, and technological advancements on social justice. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the Social Justice Syllabus aims to equip UPSC aspirants with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to address the complexities of social issues and contribute to the formulation of inclusive policies that uphold the principles of justice, equality, and dignity for all citizens.

Table of Contents

  • Definition and concepts of social justice
  • Historical perspectives on social justice
  • Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy
  • Equality, liberty, and justice in the Indian Constitution
  • Caste system and untouchability
  • Gender issues and women’s rights
  • Minorities and their rights
  • Tribal rights and development
  • Access to education
  • Affirmative action policies
  • Poverty and unemployment
  • Government schemes for social justice
  • Role of NGOs in promoting social justice
  • International organizations working for social justice
  • Human rights and global initiatives
  • Racism and xenophobia
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Disability rights
  • Historical and contemporary social justice movements in India
  • Global social justice movements and their impact
  • Media’s influence on public opinion
  • Use of technology for social justice advocacy
  • International conventions and treaties related to social justice
  • Role of the judiciary in ensuring social justice

FAQs for Social Justice Syllabus for UPSC

Q: what is social justice.

Answer: Social justice is the fair and equitable distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges within a society to ensure that all individuals have equal access to basic human rights.

Q: How does caste-based discrimination impact social justice in India?

Answer: Caste-based discrimination continues to affect social justice in India. Understanding its historical context and contemporary manifestations is crucial. Suggested reading: “Annihilation of Caste” by B.R. Ambedkar.

Q: What role does gender play in social justice?

Answer: Gender inequality is a significant social justice issue. Exploring topics such as women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and gender-based violence is essential. Suggested reading: “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir.

Q: How does economic inequality contribute to social injustice?

Answer: Economic inequality perpetuates social injustice by limiting access to education, healthcare, and opportunities. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty is a recommended reading.

Q: What is affirmative action, and how does it address social justice concerns?

Answer: Affirmative action aims to address historical discrimination by providing preferential treatment to marginalized groups. “The Affirmative Action Debate” by Steven M. Cahn is a valuable resource.

Q: Why is education considered a key component of social justice?

Answer: Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and promoting social equality. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire is a foundational text.

Q: How does environmental justice intersect with social justice?

Answer: Environmental justice explores how marginalized communities often bear the brunt of environmental degradation. “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein is recommended.

Q: What is the significance of human rights in the context of social justice?

Answer: Human rights are fundamental to social justice, ensuring that individuals are treated with dignity and fairness. “The Idea of Human Rights” by Charles R. Beitz is a useful text.

Q: How can the criminal justice system contribute to or hinder social justice?

Answer: Examining issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and the prison-industrial complex is crucial. “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander is a must-read.

Q: What is the role of civil society in promoting social justice?

Answer: Civil society plays a crucial role in advocating for social justice through activism and awareness. “Bowling Alone” by Robert D. Putnam discusses the decline of social capital.

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Essay Paper UPSC 2020 (Mains): Question Paper and Analysis

Last updated on January 9, 2021 by ClearIAS Team

Essay Paper UPSC 2020

UPSC conducted the  Essay Paper , as part of the Civil Services Main Exam 2020 on 08-01-2021.

There were 8 Essay topics, out of which candidates were asked to write on two topics in 3 hours.

Table of Contents

Essay Paper UPSC 2020 Instructions

  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in the medium other than the authorized one.
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

Essay Question Paper – UPSC Civil Services Main Exam (Written) 2020

Write two essays, choosing one topic from each of the following Sections A and B, in about 1000-1200 words each:

  • Life is long journey between human being and being humane
  • Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self
  • Ships do not sink because of water around them,  ships sink because of water that gets into them
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  • Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have
  • There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless
  • Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality
  • Technology as the silent factor in international relations

Though aspirants were asked to write only two essays out of eight, most aspirants faced difficulty to select the right combination of two essays.

A philosophical theme was present in most of the essay topics in Section A as well as Section B.

As per most aspirants, the essay topic ‘Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self’ seemed the most tricky one. Only a few attempted that topic.

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UPSC has ensured that the essay topics were much different from the GS questions.

As we have mentioned many times, Essay needs a different approach than GS. Only those candidates with good essay writing skills will score high in this year’s essay paper.

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  • IAS Preparation
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Social Issues UPSC Syllabus

‘Social issues’ is an important topic for the UPSC civil services exam. It is covered in General Studies Paper 1, although it has implications in all the four GS papers and even in the essay paper at times.

Social issues/Indian Society is covered under the following headings in the GS paper I UPSC syllabus:

  • Salient aspects of Diversity of India and Indian Society
  • Role of women and women’s organization
  • Population and associated issues
  • Poverty and developmental issues
  • Urbanisation – problems and remedies
  • Social empowerment
  • Communalism, regionalism, and secularism

Get more information about Social Issues in India  along with its major classifications at the linked article.

Social issues are also covered in GS paper II especially in governmental schemes related to various sectors, welfare schemes, health, education, human resources, poverty, hunger, etc. All IAS Exam aspirants must carefully go through the social issues important from the UPSC perspective.

Social Issues Topics for UPSC Exam

At the outset, you should know that the topics under social issues are not technical but rather general. You can easily read about these topics in various articles and editorials in the newspapers. Instead of cramming figures, you should aspire to understand the crux of the problems facing society at every level. You must develop a holistic view of issues and for this, reading a variety of editorials and opinions matter. You should also be able to make your judgements about issues but make sure they are UPSC-friendly (not too extreme). Your views should be balanced and convey the pros and cons of every angle.

Aspects you should focus on:

The diversity of Indian society is something that baffles foreigners and also native Indians many times. You should ideally be able to picture the real India encompassing every citizen from different regions, speaking different languages, professing a multitude of faiths, enjoying diverse cuisines, and soaking up the growth story and the delightful confusion that makes up India today in their own specific ways.

You should next focus on the problems faced by Indian society. Every problem whether political, economic, security-related, or cultural can be linked to social issues. Indian society faces a hoard of problems and you should read about them in a very objective fashion.

Some of the problems that the UPSC seems to like:

  • Development
  • Urbanisation/migration
  • Globalization
  • Regionalism
  • Communalism
  • Social backwardness
  • Women’s issues

The study material for social issues:

  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • UPSC: Civil Services Main – Indian Society (A General Overview) – B. Ramaswamy
  • NCERT Sociology NCERT Class XI – Understanding Society
  • NCERT Sociology NCERT Class XII – Indian Society, Social Change, and Development in India.
  • Magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra

Visit the Best Books on Indian Society page to get the list of books for UPSC preparation of social issues.

Also, See | How to Approach Post-Independence Indian History for UPSC?

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UPSC Essentials| Society and Social Justice — Literacy and associated issues (Part 1)

On international literacy day let's dive deep into the topic of literacy. from basics to advance — pranay aggarwal discusses key issues and probable questions for upsc cse. don't miss his tips on writing good introduction for essays on the topic..

essay on social justice upsc

(In UPSC Essentials’ series  ‘ Society & Social Justice’ , which we have started for social issues topics of UPSC CSE, our subject experts will give an overview of the theme from both, static and dynamic points of view. ‘Express Inputs’ and ‘points to ponder’ will widen your horizon on the issue. Our first two topics were ‘Population’ and ‘Urbanisation’. For the month of September, we take up the topic of ‘ Literacy and associated issues’ . In part 1, Manas Srivastava talks to Pranay Aggarwal about the the basic concepts, types of literacy, International Literacy Day’s theme, and more. He also suggests interesting introduction for UPSC essays related to the topic.)

About the Expert:   Pranay Aggarwal   is an educator and mentor for aspirants preparing for UPSC Civil Services examination. With more than 10 years of experience guiding civil service aspirants, he is acknowledged as an expert on civil service exam preparation, especially on subjects like Social Issues and Sociology . He is the India representative on Research Committee on Education for UNESCO’s International Sociological Association and a member of Indian Sociological Society’s committee on social movements. He is also the Convenor of Indian Civil Services Association, a think tank of senior bureaucrats.

essay on social justice upsc

Relevance of the topic: According to UNESCO, September 8 is celebrated as International Literacy Day (ILD) around the world “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.” It is an important theme in  GS I (Society), GS II, GS III, Prelims and personality test.  Aspirants will find it relevant for  Essays  as well.

Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning.  ~ Mahatma Gandhi Advertisement

Manas: Let’s start with some basic concepts. How is literacy defined? Who is a ‘literate’ and how is literacy different from education?

Pranay Aggarwal: At the most basic level, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write. In a broader sense, the concept of literacy encompasses the capacity to comprehend, interpret, and critically engage with various forms of written communication.

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A person may be considered literate if they possess the skills to understand and communicate using written language. This implies the ability to decode letters and words and comprehend and analyse textual content. However, the Census of India adopts a more limited definition, as follows-

A person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language, is treated as literate.

While literacy and education are related concepts, they are distinct from each other. Literacy focuses specifically on the ability to read, write, and communicate through written language. It is a fundamental skill that enables individuals to access, understand, and convey information. On the other hand, education is a broader concept encompassing a wide range of learning experiences and knowledge acquisition. Education includes formal schooling, but it extends beyond the classroom to encompass the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes through informal learning processes. Education, thus, encompasses a broader range of cognitive, social, and intellectual development.

Literacy can be seen as a foundational aspect of education , serving as a fundamental tool that enables individuals to access and benefit from educational opportunities.

In summary, literacy pertains to the fundamental skill of understanding and using written language, while education encompasses a wider array of cognitive and personal development that goes beyond mere literacy skills.

Manas: How is illiteracy a big burden to the nation even after so many years of independence?

Pranay Aggarwal: Illiteracy continues to pose a substantial burden on the nation despite several years of independence due to its multifaceted impact on various aspects of society. The literacy rate in the country is overall 74.04 per cent, 82.14 for males and 65.46 for females, as per the 2011 census. While the country has made significant progress in improving literacy over the years, it continues to be home to 313 million illiterate people; 59 per cent of whom are women. It is heartbreaking that 17.8 per cent of males and a staggering 34.5 per cent of females do not have basic literacy even after 75 years of independence.

Reasons why illiteracy persists:

In Indian society, illiteracy has persisted as a formidable challenge due to a combination of historical, socio-economic, and structural factors. Despite strides in various sectors and substantial improvement in literacy rates since gaining independence, the issue of illiteracy remains a significant concern with far-reaching implications.

One key aspect is the sheer size and diversity of the Indian population. India’s vastness, along with its multitude of languages and dialects, poses a unique challenge for addressing illiteracy. The country’s linguistic diversity necessitates the creation of educational materials and resources in multiple languages to ensure effective learning. This challenge becomes more complex when considering that a substantial portion of the population resides in rural and remote areas with limited access to educational infrastructure.

Moreover, the interplay of socio-economic factors exacerbates the issue. Illiteracy is often concentrated in marginalised and economically disadvantaged castes and communities, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and limited educational opportunities. The lack of access to quality education, particularly in rural and economically backward regions, further widens the gap between urban and rural literacy rates.

The issue is not solely about access to education, but also about the quality of education provided. Many regions face a shortage of qualified teachers, outdated teaching methodologies, and inadequate learning resources. This affects the learning outcomes and diminishes the impact of efforts to enhance literacy rates.

Societal impact of the persistence of illiteracy:

The persistence of illiteracy inhibits social, economic, and cultural progress in several ways, highlighting the complex nature of this issue.

From an economic standpoint, illiteracy restricts an individual’s access to a range of opportunities, including formal employment, vocational training, and entrepreneurship. This hampers economic growth as a significant portion of the population remains unable to contribute effectively to the workforce and engage in higher-value economic activities.

Furthermore, illiteracy perpetuates cycles of poverty and social inequality. The inability to read and write limits individuals’ capacity to access information, make informed decisions, and advocate for their rights. This, in turn, affects access to healthcare, legal resources, and other essential services, leading to a vicious cycle of disadvantage that is passed down to subsequent generations.

In terms of social and cultural development, illiteracy hinders the spread of knowledge, inhibiting the transmission of cultural heritage, scientific advancements, and social innovations. This can result in a lack of awareness about critical issues such as health, sanitation, and sustainable practices, impeding the nation’s progress toward development goals.

Addressing the challenge of illiteracy:

It’s worth noting that addressing illiteracy requires more than just improving literacy rates; it involves a comprehensive approach that includes ensuring quality education, promoting lifelong learning, and addressing socio-economic gaps and regional disparities. A holistic effort is necessary to break the cycle of illiteracy and fully unleash the nation’s potential for growth and development in the modern era. Addressing illiteracy in India requires tailored strategies and sustained efforts that acknowledge and respect the linguistic and cultural diversity of the nation.

In conclusion, the burden of illiteracy in India post-independence is a complex challenge deeply intertwined with linguistic diversity, socio-economic disparities, and the quality of education. Addressing this challenge demands a multi-pronged approach that encompasses equitable access to education, focused efforts on quality enhancement, and proactive engagement with marginalized communities. By tackling illiteracy comprehensively, India can unlock its full potential and accelerate its journey toward inclusive and sustainable development.

Manas: What are the different kinds of literacy that students need for the 21st century?

Pranay Aggarwal: Today, the notion of literacy has evolved far beyond the basic ability to read and write. In fact, in the 21st century, students require a diverse set of literacies to navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Beyond traditional reading and writing skills, these literacies enable individuals to thrive in various contexts and effectively engage with modern challenges. Here are some essential types of literacy:

1. Functional Literacy: It equips individuals with basic reading, writing, and numerical skills necessary for day-to-day life. It enables them to understand and respond to practical information, forms, and instructions, fostering independence and self-sufficiency.

2. Financial Literacy: It empowers individuals to manage their personal finances wisely. It involves understanding concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and making informed decisions about loans and credit. Financial literacy promotes economic well-being and prevents financial vulnerabilities.

3. Digital Literacy: It encompasses the ability to use digital tools, navigate online platforms, critically evaluate digital content, and safeguard personal information. In an increasingly digital world, this literacy is crucial for communication, learning, and participation in the digital economy.

4. Linguistic Literacy: This involves proficiency in multiple languages. As globalization connects diverse cultures and languages, being able to communicate effectively across linguistic boundaries enhances cultural understanding and global collaboration.

5. Reading and Writing Literacy: Traditional literacy remains fundamental. Being able to comprehend complex texts, communicate ideas persuasively in writing, and engage with diverse genres of literature fosters critical thinking and effective expression.

6. Numerical Literacy: This goes beyond basic math skills. It includes understanding and interpreting data, making informed decisions based on quantitative information, and applying mathematical concepts in real-world scenarios.

7. Spatial Literacy: It involves understanding and interpreting visual information, maps, and diagrams. It’s crucial for comprehending spatial relationships, geographical concepts, and even interpreting data through graphs and charts.

8. Cultural Literacy: This involves understanding cultural norms, values, and historical contexts. It fosters empathy, cross-cultural communication, and a deeper appreciation for diverse perspectives in a globalised world.

9. Media Literacy: It equips individuals to critically evaluate and interpret media messages, including news, advertisements, and digital content. It enables them to discern bias, misinformation, and make informed judgments.

10. Health and Medical Literacy: Health literacy empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Medical literacy extends to understanding medical information, treatment options, and being an active participant in healthcare decisions.

11. Environmental Literacy: Environmental literacy involves understanding ecological systems, climate change, and sustainable practices. It empowers individuals to make environmentally conscious choices and advocate for environmental protection.

In a rapidly changing world, these various literacies are interconnected and essential for holistic development. They equip students with the skills and knowledge to thrive, contribute positively to society, and address complex challenges in a meaningful and informed manner.

Manas: As the India representative in UNESCO’s International Sociological Association Research Committee on Education; you have closely worked in strengthening UNESCO’s educational research activities in India. Please tell us about this year’s theme of UNESCO; “Promoting literacy for a world in transition, building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful solutions”.

Pranay Aggarwal: UNESCO celebrates International Literacy Day (ILD) on September 8. This year’s theme — “Promoting Literacy for a World in Transition: Building the Foundation for Sustainable and Peaceful Solutions”– reflects the critical role that literacy plays in navigating the complex challenges of our rapidly changing world. The theme underscores the idea that literacy is not just a fundamental skill, but also a catalyst for positive transformation and the establishment of sustainable and peaceful societies.

Promoting Literacy for Transition: As the world undergoes rapid technological, economic, and social changes, literacy becomes an essential tool for individuals to adapt, innovate, and thrive. Literate individuals are better equipped to comprehend and embrace new ideas, technologies, and ways of thinking. They can navigate the digital landscape, critically evaluate information, and engage meaningfully in discussions about the transformations occurring around them.

Foundation for Sustainable Solutions: Literacy serves as the bedrock for sustainable development. A literate population is more capable of understanding and advocating for environmentally conscious practices, health and hygiene, and responsible citizenship. Literacy equips individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to address global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and inequality.

Contributing to Peaceful Solutions: Literacy is a powerful tool for fostering understanding, empathy, and communication. It enables individuals to express themselves, share experiences, and engage in constructive dialogue. In a world grappling with conflicts and divisions, literate individuals are more likely to seek peaceful resolutions, respect diversity, and contribute to social cohesion.

Empowerment and Inclusivity: Promoting literacy also empowers marginalised communities and ensures inclusivity. When everyone has access to education and literacy, it reduces disparities and contributes to a more equitable society. Empowering women and underserved groups through literacy creates a foundation for their active participation in decision-making and social progress.

In summary, this year’s UNESCO theme emphasises that literacy is not merely a means to an end, but a transformative force that empowers individuals and societies to navigate transitions, contribute to sustainable development, and work towards peaceful solutions. As the world faces numerous challenges and opportunities, literacy remains a crucial cornerstone for building a brighter future for all.

Manas: Can you suggest some attractive introductions for an essay on literacy and education?

Pranay Aggarwal: The introduction of an essay should aim to capture the reader’s attention, evoke curiosity, and set the stage for an engaging exploration of the essay topic. In the UPSC exam, the essay paper is one of the low hanging fruits. A good score of 125+ marks can be attained in the Essay paper if one approaches essay preparation and writing in the right way.

In the essay, it is crucial to begin on the right note. After all, well begun is half done.

The essay introduction should be brief, simple and relevant. It should be engaging and powerful. Here are some different ways to begin essays on literacy and education:

1. Painting a Vivid Scene: “In the early morning light, a village comes to life with the sound of children’s laughter echoing through the air. They gather under the shade of a tree, eager faces aglow with anticipation, ready to embark on the journey of education – a voyage that begins with the first step into the realm of literacy.”

2. Setting a Historical Context: ” Throughout the annals of history, the journey of civilization has been guided by the ink-stained pages of literature. From ancient scrolls to digital tablets, the torch of enlightenment has been passed down through the generations.”

3. Opening with a Simple yet Thought-Provoking Question: “Imagine a world without letters, storybooks, pens and pencils. Will it also be a world with less magic, wonder, and adventure?”

4. Highlighting the Value of Learning: “In an era where information flows ceaselessly, where innovation reshapes industries overnight, and where the world evolves at a relentless pace, education emerges as the compass that guides us through the uncharted waters of knowledge and empowers us to navigate an ever-changing landscape.”

5. Foreground Education as a Lifelong Pursuit: “Education is not confined to the walls of a classroom or the span of a college degree; it is an enduring journey that accompanies us from cradle to grave. It is the lifelong pursuit of wisdom, the never-ending adventure of the mind.”

6. Starting with a Quotation: “The progress of any society depends on the progress of education in that society.” – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar or “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela . These quotes encapsulate the essence of education as a catalyst for individual growth and societal advancement.

7. Using an Anecdote: “In the heart of a bustling city, a young child sat in awe, captivated by the spellbinding world hidden within the pages of a book. He is ready to embark on the magical journey of education, transcending boundaries and opening up new horizons.”

8. Invoking Curiosity: “Imagine a world where every mind is a fertile ground for ideas, every heart resonates with stories, and every voice is empowered to articulate thoughts. This is the world that education creates, a canvas of endless possibilities waiting to be explored.”

9. Call attention to a Contradiction: “In an age where information flows abundantly, it is paradoxical that millions around the world are still barred from accessing the treasures of knowledge.”

10. Underscore Global Relevance: ” From bustling metropolises to remotest hamlets, from the physical classroom to the virtual realm, the pursuit of education unites people in a common endeavor – the quest for knowledge, growth, and a brighter future.”

11. Embracing Diversity: “In languages whispered across deserts and spoken amidst the clamor of cities, education weaves a tapestry that bridges cultures, transcends borders, and celebrates the rich diversity of human expression.”

In the IAS exam Essay paper, candidates must ensure that the essay introduction captures the overall theme or conveys the essence of the essay concisely. Aspirants must ensure that their introduction is relevant viz. a viz. the essay topic and engages the evaluator, leaving him yearning for more.

In the upcoming parts on literacy we shall focus on questions such as:

— What is the power of literacy?

— How COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the peril of illiteracy?

— How adult illiteracy and child illiteracy differ in terms of challenges?

— What is the impact of this digital divide on education in India?

— What are India’s various initiatives towards increasing literacy rate, including education policies?

and many more points to ponder…

Previous topics on Society and Social Justice:

UPSC Essentials: Society & Social Justice | Population and associated issues (Part 1)

UPSC Essentials: Society & Social Justice | Population and associated issues (Part 2)

UPSC Essentials| Society & Social Justice — Urbanisation and associated issues (Part 1)

UPSC Essentials | Society & Social Justice : Urbanisation and associated issues (Part 2)

UPSC Essentials | Society & Social Justice : Urbanisation and associated issues (Part 3)

(The  UPSC Essentials   Indian Express  is now on Telegram.  Click here  to join our YouTube channel and stay updated with the latest updates.

Subscribe to  The Indian Express UPSC Key  and prepare for the Civil Services and other competitive examinations with cues on how to read and understand content from the most authoritative news source in India.

Note:  Catch the UPSC Weekly Quiz every Saturday evening and brush up on your current affairs knowledge.)

Share your views, answers and suggestions in the comment box or at manas.srivastava@ . You can also post your doubts, questions, and suggest themes on topics related to  Society and Social Justice .

Subscribe to our  UPSC Essentials newsletter  : A weekly newsletter with important news, analysis, insights to help you prepare.

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