The American philosopher John Rawls popularized the idea of justice as fairness. Sadly, fairness creams are the main proponents of that word. Whether fairness creams practice fairness in the entire concept of such products is really questionable. John Rawl’s theory of fairness as justice includes two points
- All should have equal opportunities
- Social and Economical privileges are justified on the basis of difference principle, and they are granted to the underprivileged sections of the society who can’t compete with others.
This may have officially developed as a doctrine in 1980s, but the essential theme is present in the constitutions of India (in the form of reservations) and of many other countries. It was present in some form or the other even with the older governments. It is even present in the famous Biblical maxim, ‘do unto others as you want them to do to you’ or in the similar version of Kantian categorical imperative. It is also present in Buddhist teachings. The purpose of fairness is to create a society where everybody can develop and grow, where special care is given to some who requires it. They are means to reduce inequality.
But still many economists (including Joseph E Stiglitz), activists and people of common sense see the paradox of development and widening inequality in income. Where the good fairness principle is going wrong? Or is the idea of fairness being manipulated. Some of my thoughts are
- Reservations/Subsidies are not reaching the unequal in the society (Reservations for the scheduled castes and tribes are taken by the rich among their groups who are already 2nd generation beneficiaries)
- The ruling 1% could make the 99% believe that all the economic and political reforms could create a more equal society; they are made to believe that it will create a fair society. (demonetization in India, loans at cheaper rate to MNCs)
- Lack of educational opportunities in the rural sections of the country (Even people in US are victims of this)
- Taxation benefits given to the extremely rich on the name of Foreign direct investment (FDI), GDP growth and reluctance to bail out the farmers in extreme bad conditions.
- One section of the society benefited mostly from the development and another section (mostly farmers) affected by the vast associated ecological crisis.
The questions of inequality and fairness needs to be addressed by the efforts of many sections of the society. Many try to do a part in it. Government too plays a part it. But government needs to step up its efforts so that economic, industrial and other political policy decisions should try to create a fairer society. It requires politicians who have the guts to stand against the might and power of the 1%.