India's Social Issues Essay
Our country today is trapped in the vicious webs of various social issues. No longer an Indian can boast of a beautiful India. You pass through every street in India, irrespective of the town or the city, you will see garbage or litter thrown here and there, you will come across small children begging you for a coin or a piece of 5 or a 10 Rs. note. All these problems crop up due to the issue of illiteracy in India. The government can make up policies but the success of the policies being implemented lies in the hands of every individual, not just the government.
I will describe a happening that changed my life and kindled in me the spirit to contribute towards the well being of my country. Past joining IMI, I was working with TCS and was staying in Mumbai with my friends. Everyday going to the office on a local train, one could experience the trailers of some of the social issues India is facing today. Small children cleaning trains so that looking at them public may feel empathy and give a coin or two to them. You could experience the problem of sanitation in India. People living in jhuggis alongside the railway lines have dish tv's in their home but sanitation facilities are just not there. It is more of a humiliation for specially the female members in these houses who have to get through their cleaning and sanitation related activities before the day breaks. What is the meaning of aspiring to be a world power and have high industrial growth , if still our nation is cropped...
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Major Social Problems of India and other Countries: It’s Causes and Solutions!
We have indicated some of the major social problems dealing with die family education, religion and other institutions of social life.
Here we shall consider some other problems facing contemporary society and having far-reaching effects on it; these are the problems of poverty, unemployment, crime and war.
Poverty is relative to richness. Poverty is one of the foremost social problems facing India and other countries. John L. Gillin asserted that poverty may be regarded as “that condition in which a person either because of inadequate income or unwise expenditures, does not maintain a scale of living high enough to provide for his physical and mental efficiency and to enable him and his natural dependents to function usually according to the standards of society of which he is a member.” Poverty exists when one is not able to get sufficient food and necessities of life.
According to Goddard, J.G., “Poverty is the insufficient supply of those things which are requisite for an individual to maintain himself and those dependent upon him in health and vigour.”Rich and poor have always existed in society but historically the existence of poverty did not constitute an important social problem until exchange system and a scale of values came into existence. When trade expanded, some people began to amass wealth leading to its uneven distribution.
They started living a luxurious life depriving others of comforts. The members of society began to compare the differences in economic status and look upon themselves as either poor or rich in accordance with the prevailing living standards.
So poverty is considered a problem only when obvious differences in economic status among members of a society are established and comparisons and evaluations of those differences are made. In the absence of these differences poverty does not exist, even though life may be most precarious. Thus poverty was no problem in the middle ages, even though by modern standards the level of living at that time was incredibly low-poverty was simply accepted as inevitable.
Poverty is relative to richness. It is only when people feel resentment at their lot as compared with that of others that they feel the sting of poverty. In case of extreme privation too they may feel this sting without comparing their lot with that of others. They fail to achieve more than what they have and the awareness of this failure causes resentment of poverty among them.
Therefore, it is the attitude of resentment which brings the problem of poverty to the forefront. The primitive people lived a more precarious life but they considered their discomfort as a natural condition, rather than as a problem calling for solution and hence accepted if without being resentful.
People are poor not because of an increase in misery but because of the attitude of resentment at what they do not possess and what others possess. They regard themselves as poor when they feel deprived of what others possess and enjoy. It is then that poverty becomes a social problem.
No Uniform Standards:
The standards of poverty judgment are not uniform throughout. According to Adam Smith, “Man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, the conveniences and the amusements of life.” In the Western societies people are not poor because they lack the necessities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter, but only because their possessions are considered insufficient according to the prevailing standards.
Thus the inability to own a radio or an automobile may be, and often is, taken as an indication of poverty. In India, on the other hand, deprivation of the necessities of life constitutes poverty. The possession of radio or automobile is a sign of richness. A vast majority of India’s population lives below the subsistence level. Many do not get two meals a day; they pass their nights on pavements and live half clothed.
How poor we are! In India, poverty is a foremost social problem. Nothing to speak of comforts the people here is deprived even of the basic necessities of life. According to the United Nations Human Development Report for 1990, 48. Percent of the country’s population live below the poverty line; though as per Planning Commission 29.9 per cent of the Population is below the poverty line as per new methodology.
The poverty line is drawn at Rs. 49.9 per capita per month (1973-74 prices) in the rural area and an income of Rs. 56.44 per capita per month in the urban area. In America the average income is Rs. 9196, in England Rs. 3858, and in Australia it is Rs. 4207. Thus an American earns thirty three times more income to that of an Indian. Each year India adds about 5 million people to the growing multitude of poor. Poverty is more pronounced among the lower classes and in the rural areas.
Causes of Poverty:
What are the causes underlying poverty? According to Henry George, the main cause of poverty is the personal ownership and monopoly of the Individual on the land. He writes, “In the great cities, where land is so valuable that it is measured by the foot, you will find the extremes of poverty and of luxury. And this, disparity in condition between the two extremes of the social scale may always be measured by the price of land.”
According to Marx, the main cause of poverty is the exploitation of the workers by the capitalists. According to Malthus, Increasing population is the cause of poverty. These thinkers however laid emphasis on one particular cause of poverty.
As a matter of fact the causes of poverty are numerous and complex. Some of the causes are personal while others are geographical, economic and social. It is the task of an economist to analyse them in detail. We shall not make any attempt to analyse them.
The Gillins listed three factors as primarily responsible for poverty:
(i) Incapacity of the individual, which may be due to a faulty heredity or to the environment;
(ii) Unfavourable physical conditions, such as poor natural resources, bad climate and weather, and epidemics, and
(iii) Maldistribution of wealth and of income and the imperfect functioning of our economic Institutions. Of these three factors the last two factors are principally responsible for poverty in India. Ours is a country rich in natural resources, but we have not yet adequately exploited them.
A vast area of land remains uncultivated. Our means of cultivation are old styled resulting in less production. Industries are not well developed; a vast portion of population depends on agriculture. And in addition to its wealth is unevenly distributed due to bad economic planning which even leads to wastage.
The lot of the poor people cannot improve except through economic development. There is imperative need for drastic economic reforms. The progress we have made has fallen short of our plan targets. The malaises are many.
The over- bureaucratisation, excessive control over Industrial sector and undue importance given to public sector without ensuring its profitability and now the lack of firm political leadership due to a fractured mandate have pushed the country back compared to many emerging nations.
Closely associated with the problem of poverty is the problem of unemployment because when people remain idle they become poor. If there are needs to be satisfied, then men must be employed in satisfying them. Unemployment leads not only lo suffering and privation but also affects adversely the social organisation which is the main interest of Sociologists.
Defining unemployment, Karl Pribram has written that “Unemployment is a condition of the labour market in which the supply of labour is greater than the number of available openings.” According to Fairchild, “Unemployment is forced and involuntary separation from remunerative work or the part of the normal working force during normal working time, at normal wages and under normal conditions.”
According to Chapman, unemployment is of two kinds:
(i) Subjective unemployment, and
(ii) Objective unemployment.
Subjective unemployment is caused by physical and mental diseases of the individual.
Objective unemployment is of four types:
(i) Seasonal unemployment,
(ii) Cyclical unemployment:
(iii) Structural unemployment, and
(iv) Normal unemployment.
In addition to these forms of unemployment there may also be agricultural unemployment, technological unemployment and educational unemployment.
Though unemployment is universal but in India it is more marked. The number of total unemployed youth with at least matriculation qualification is put about at five million. This included about 1.5 million unemployed graduates.
A study undertaken by the Manpower Division of the Directorate of Employment Exchange, Ministry of Labour and Employment of the pattern of unemployment among graduates showed that about 93 per cent of the unemployed graduates seeking employment were men and about 7 per cent women. 48.5 per cent of the unemployment graduates were B.A’s. 22.7 B. Sc’s and 12.8 per cent B. Com’s.
Unemployment is also widespread among the professionally trained like engineers, doctors and other technically qualified people. No reliable figures are available about unemployment among the illiterate people-those who earn their bread through daily wages.
The statistics maintained by the Employment Exchanges do not give any exact idea of the level of unemployment because firstly, the Employment Exchanges cover mainly urban areas, secondly, because all the unemployed people do not get themselves registered and, thirdly, because some of the registrants are already employed and seek better jobs.
Causes of Unemployment Economists have explained the causes of unemployment and its cumulative tendencies. They have distinguished between the ‘frictional’ unemployment due to a change over from one job to another and the Immobility of those who do not feel inclined to move away to a strange district to find work on the one hand and unemployment due to more profound economic dislocation on the other.
New inventions take jobs away from men before new jobs are created. Also, much unemployment is caused by business depressions which arise because production moves faster than purchasing power. Unemployment, then, represents changes in business conditions which come more quickly than changes in population.
In India the problem of unemployment among the educated youth is assuming serious proportions. As discussed earlier the faulty system of our education has been responsible for it. We are admitting thousands of young boys and girls to the institutions of higher learning without any prospects of employment for them.
Even the technical people like engineers, doctors, and those trained in specialized jobs are without employment. Unemployment is a great cause of social disorganisation. The crisis in Indian Society today is largely a crisis of finding suitable jobs for the millions who join institutions aimlessly and come out of them only to suffer frustration outside and become deviant. Unless and until employment opportunities increase fast enough, poverty cannot be removed.
Associated with the problems of poverty and unemployment is the problem of beggary which is a social problem of great magnitude and grave concern in developing and under developed countries where it exists in a crude form but the developed countries also are not immune from it where it exists in less degree. Begging is a curse both for the individual beggar and the society.
The beggar suffers from a sense of humiliation, shame and leads a life of squalor and filth. Beggary is a problem for children beggars. For them it is an undesirable environment in which to grow up. It implies undernourishment and inadequate opportunities for education.
It means idleness, bad company and delinquency. Begging is a problem for society in as much as a large number of beggars means non-utilization of available human resources and a drag upon the existing resources of the society. Beggars are also a public health hazard. They are often carriers of infection and disease. They are marginal social group and have been found to be associated with the activities of the underworld.
Probably, India is the only country in the world where lakhs of its population wander about the streets, public places, markets, temples, bus stands, railway stations and even in moving trams with perfect freedom, living on the spontaneous unorganized charity of the individual citizen. Though beggars may be found in other parts of the civilized world, here the public tolerates persistent, open and methodical bagging in public places without hindrance.
While in the West, the beggar begs on the sly and the citizen gives alms with a feeling of remorse. In India the beggar begs importunately with the attitude of one demanding his daily wages or with the contentment of one proudly carrying on his parental profession.
The citizen, in his turn doles out his charity with religious sanction and the self-satisfaction of doing a good deed.
Definition of Beggars:
It may not be possible to give a precise definition of beggar The beggar in England is described as consisting of every person wandering abroad or placing himself or herself in any public place, street, highway, court or passage, to beg or gather alms or causing or procuring any child or children (under 16) to do so. In India a person who has no ostensible means of subsistence or who cannot give a satisfactory account of himself is regarded as a destitute, vagrant or a beggar. (Criminal Procedure Code Section 55(1)).
The definition of beggary can be found in the vagrancy Acts of some of the states of India.
On the basis of the provisions of these acts a person to be labelled as a beggar should satisfy these conditions:
(i) He lives by soliciting alms in any public place, temple or mosque, private premises, public street, road or thoroughfare, or place of public resort, hotels bus-stops, pavements or markets etc., for the maintenance of himself or his family.
(ii) He wanders from door to door, exhibits or exposes sores, wounds, bodily ailments or deformities or makes fraudulent pretences of them or allows himself to be used as an exhibit for exciting pity for seeking alms.
(iii) He is without any visible means of subsistence.
Types of Beggars:
Beggars, have been classified into various categories. According to Dr. Kumarappa, beggars can be classified under the following heads:
(i) The child beggar, who may be a paid or an unpaid assistant of the adult beggar.
(ii) The physically defectives, including the blind, the deaf, mute, the crippled, the maimed and deformed. Besides these, there are the chronically under-nourished and those afflicted with various organic troubles, or weakness of the vital organs.
(iii) The mentally defectives, including a large proportion of the destitute, immoral, delinquent and criminal population.
(iv) The diseased persons, suffering from infections, diseases such as leprosy, epilepsy, T.B., venereal diseases and skin diseases, with sores and ulcers covered with plasters on which myriads of flies settle and feed.
(v) The able-bodied, who considers begging as his birth-right and bullies, harasses and troubles the public into giving them alms, and who are lazy and roam about in the cities. They beg by day and turn into thieves and robbers by night.
(vi) The religious mendicants, so familiar is the figure of the Sanyasi, the Yogi, the Sadhu, the Bairagi, the Fakir and the Darvesh with all the paraphernalia of saffron robe, wood-bead-necklace and bowl in hand.
(vii) The bogus mendicants, who are able-bodied laymen and who have no affiliation with any religious order whatever, but like to get on without work, don the garb of a Fakir or a Sadhu and profit by the generosity of the unsuspecting and religious minded orthodox people.
(viii) The tribal beggars, who move about from place to place singing and reciting local songs and begging. Among this class may be included the seasonal vagrant and the permanent vagrant. The seasonal vagrant comprise those migratory casual labourers who work on the fields or on some trade on craft in their native village during the season and in the off season migrate to larger cities where they live on footpaths or open maidens and maintain themselves by begging or stealing. The permanent vagrants are the migratory non-workers.
They are purposeless wanderers who beat their way from place to place, begging for food, getting in any way they can and carefully avoiding rendering and useful service to the society.
(ix) The employed beggars are the persons who work in night shifts in mills and factories and go out begging during the day.
Causes of Beggary:
Beggary constitutes a very complex social problem at the root of which can be traced a multitude of causes that conspire to produce the individual beggar. It is also intimately related with other social problems such as unemployment, intemperance, poverty, crippling diseases, leprosy, lack of provision of old age, security, disruption of joint family and mental derangement.
Furthermore, in a country like India, where religion sanctions the formation of mendicant orders and also prescribes charity and public sympathy for mankind for one’s own elevation, the problem of beggary assumes greater complications.
In a survey of the Beggar Problem in Greater Bombay, Dr. Moorthy has mentioned the following causes, giving rise to beggary:
Over-population with consequent pressure on land and inability of land to support the people ; System of land tenure ; tyrannical landlordism ; subdivision of holding coupled with large families and unprofitable methods of farming ; Debts ; Famines, floods and epidemics which weaken the community or impose hardships ; family breakdown ; economic and emotional disabilities imposed on a man or woman after desertion ; chronic and pernicious diseases ; physical and mental handicaps ; truancy and delinquency ; inability to secure a job ; unwillingness to work ; religious bias and vow binding one to the mendicant order; anti-social attitudes and child lifting ; lack of facilities for the welfare of the unattached, abandoned and disabled ; lack of facilities for training for employment ; lack of social security and absence of social responsibility ; attractions of city life, linked with the possibility of easy and ticketless travel ; and the general outlook on life which inclines one to believe in destiny.”
Measures to Combat Beggary:
Most of the civilized countries of the World have long prohibited begging in public and declared it an offence under the law, whereas England began her Poor Law Relief as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth from the beginning of the 17th century, Japan has enacted social laws to care for her aged and infirm in State and Municipal Homes, and begging in Japan is scarce as in countries like Great Britain and Germany.
But beggars still stalk the streets of China, India, Muslim and other countries of the Near, Middle and ‘Far East and even some of the smaller eastern European countries though all have realized the fact that the beggar problem can never be solved by private charity, however profuse and that State intervention and legislation are necessary if the allied problems of begging, destitution and vagrancy are to be effectively tackled.
Special Acts have been passed by most of the states in India to prohibit beggary in public places. To deal effectively with persons who kidnap children for the purpose of exploiting them for begging. The Indian Penal Code (Section 263-A) makes kidnapping or obtaining custody of minor and maintaining of a minor for the purpose of begging specific offences and provides for deterrent punishment which may extend to life imprisonment where children are maimed.
These laws follow a more or less uniform pattern, viz.—
(1) They prohibit and penalize begging in public places.
(2) Most of them distinguish juveniles from able bodied and disabled beggars, and commit juvenile to the jurisdiction of the Children Act and the able-bodied to workhouses and the disabled to special homes, if available.
(3) Most of them are operative in areas on notification by the Government and some of them only if there are special homes and workhouses.
(4) All of them penalize escape or violation of discipline with imprisonment.
There are institutions in the states for the custody, and assistance of the beggars in their rehabilitation. The inmates of these homes are provided with food, clothing and education, facilities for physical, cultural and vocational training.
Mere legislative enactments would not stop the evil.
Other measures need to be taken to root out and lessen this menace:
(i) The old attitude that charity blesseth him who gives and him who taketh should be abandoned, for it demoralizes both.
(ii) As begging is an offence, the giver of the charity is a part of it and should be equally liable to punishment, even as the bribe-giver is as guilty as the bribe taker.
(iii) When begging is declared prohibited, it is necessary to guarantee the beggars and their dependents an alternative and equally paying employment.
(iv) Social security services should be developed to look after the innocent dependents. At present the criminal law seems to reward the criminal with social security and penalize the innocent with social insecurity.
(v) As there are different causes and situations of beggary the institutional treatment has to be adjusted to the different categories of beggars. Poor Houses should have an infirmary for the disabled and diseased and other suffering from non-infectious diseases. Child beggars should have a department where they may be taught to read and write and become self-supporting. There should be a Work-House or an Agricultural colony for the able-bodied never-do-wells who live by lying and blackmailing.
(vi) Provision of after-care and follow-up should be a legal obligation. Development of placement agencies and after-care hostels, marriage guidance bureau in case of female beggars and setting up of establishments for the deformed and physically handicapped and leprosy patients should be the first duty of the social welfare departments and social welfare agencies.
(vii) Considering the fact that among the large population of beggars in India a good man suffers from hereditary defects as are likely to be transmitted to their children, it would be desirable to provide for the sterilization of such persons.
In sum, it may be concluded that in spite of a plethora of enactments adopted by different states, the Police Acts, Municipal Acts and the Indian Railways Act, beggary goes on unchecked, assuming serious dimensions, leading to immeasurable crimes.
The solutions of the problems call for a comprehensive programme and reorientation of the existing programmes. Philanthropic approach to beggar problem should be replaced by therapeutic and rehabilitative work, and a positive attitude towards work should be developed among the able-bodied beggars.
Crime is relative:
Crime or delinquency is a great social problem facing every society. According to C. Darrow, “Crime is an act forbidden by the law of the land and for which penalty is prescribed.” According to Barnes and Teeters, “Crime is a form of anti-social behaviour that has violated public sentiment to such an extent as to be forbidden by statute.” Crime is the omission of an act which the law of the land asks to do or commission of an act which it forbids to do. The law may be written or unwritten.
When the law is not written then crime is generally recognized as transgressions against the traditions or mores of the community. Crime, therefore, may be regarded as behaviour of individuals which the group strongly disapproves. And since societies do not have uniform standards of right and wrong and since these standards change in a society from time to time, criminal behaviour is relative and not absolute.
Crime is the price paid for the advantage of civilization. Crime is said to be a major social phenomenon of modern civilized and advanced societies. Though there was crime in primitive societies too but therein it was not a major social problem. In primitive societies, the mores are strong enough to control the individual behaviour effectively, and the few who disobey the rules do not constitute a threat to the community.
In modern civilized societies, as we saw elsewhere, the influence of mores has lessened and it is difficult to compel universal observance of mores. The modern societies have a population which is heterogeneous in racial and cultural background and is differentiated into various classes. They have several norms of conduct which often clash with one another; and have limited control over the behaviour of their members.
In primitive societies called backward there was a single code of beliefs and customs, the culture was static and homogeneous and there was little institutional disorganisation and a minimum class-differentiation. Naturally there was little crime among primitive tribes and in simple folk societies. But like many other social problems of our modern society, crime also is the price we have to pay for the advantages of civilization.
Crime in India:
In India, there are no dependable figures on crime. The available statistics cover only those arrested and convicted, or the crime known to the police and even these figures are not reliable. What is more serious is the white-collar crime which amounts several times more than the conventional type of crime. By white-collar crimes we mean the crimes committed by the upper strata of society in their business and professional practices.
The Securities scam, the sugar scam, the Telecom scam and the fodder scam are the recent examples. Racketeering, black-marketing, tax evasion, adulteration and corruption are some of the crimes committed by the white-collar men frequently which have assumed serious proportions threatening the entire social fabric.
What is a more sorry state of affairs is that the racketeers, black-marketers, smugglers, tax-evaders and bribe takers exert considerable political influence and have entered the legislatures. The public seems willing to support their activities through extensive patronage.
Our moral sense is at low ebb. From the crime statistics or from newspaper reports we can obtain only a slight idea as to the prevalence of crime in the country. We would not be guilty of exaggeration if we say that in India crime has increased steadily in recent years. Moreover, the data from the penal institutions show that a large percentage of inmates are repeaters reflecting the failure of our society to rehabilitate the criminal.
The country spends several crores of rupees in detecting, convicting and guarding the criminals, yet crime goes on increasing day by day. If we in India place a high value on wealth, prestige, and political power regardless of the way in which they are acquired and if the leaders refuse to abide by laws which they wish to be enforced against other persons, then, of course, we cannot expect the incidence of crime to go down.
How to combat crime?
The sociologists are not unanimous on the point. Often the measures advocated are based upon a particular theory regarding the cause of crime. The most accepted view is that the causes of crime are multiple and no single theory can explain all the causes. These causes are biological, psychological, social and economic. Among the biological causes we may include insanity, physical disability, defective glandular and nervous system.
The psychological causes may be neurosis, psychopathy and emotional instability. The social causes are social disorganisation, social competition, social mobility, conflict, defective social institutions, lack of education, sexual literature, cultural lag and war. The economic causes are economic competition, poverty, unemployment, desire for more wealth, unlimited desires, industrialization, poor natural resources, inflation etc.
The reasons for a person’s is having committed a crime can be discovered only after investigating his personality and environment. According to Elliot and Merrill, ‘The factors in relation to the whole, rather than the sum of the single isolated factors, must be considered in any satisfactory analysis.” Some criminologists, such as Bonger believe that only a completely renovated society, one in which there is no capitalism, can solve the problem of crime.
Others, who do not go to this extreme, advocate reformatory rather than retaliative or deterrent treatment of the criminals. Ostensibly the reform of the criminal is the main motive in his treatment today. In India various means are being explored for giving a better treatment to the criminal inside the jail. He is being provided with more and better amenities of life. Besides sufficient food, bedding and clothing he is also provided with recreational facilities.
Indoor and outdoor games are played and tournaments are arranged in which teams from outside often participate. Even radios have been installed in some of the penal institutions. The present prison administration in the country guarantees a prisoner better food, clothing, medical attention and recreational facilities than what are available to a poor honest man outside.
Of the success of these measures it is impossible to speak with any certainty. We cannot say whether these measures have been responsible for the cure of such criminals who do not reappear before the court or they have simply given up crime by a process of social maturation. However, it is universally recognised that punishin6rit does not reform the criminal. Whether or not it deters potential criminals is open to debate.
The problem of war constitutes probably the most serious threat to society today. The havoc wrought by the last two world wars has made men dreadful of it. The clouds of a third world war till recently hovering up in the sky have now somewhat lessened due to the extinction of U.S.S.R. from the globe.
Causes of War:
Why does war take place? There are two main classes of theory: economic and psychological. The former sees the causes of war in the clash of economic interests, the latter in the nature of man. In the past the economic causes were comparatively simple; the expansion of empire brought booty and tribute, huge movements of people pushed their way from central Asia into Europe, Egypt, India and China.
In our own times the economic causes are complex. Modern war does not have booty or tribute in view because sometimes colonial war’s end merely in the occupation of the conquered territory. Hobson and the Marians take the line that war is the outcome of imperialism and that imperialism is the inevitable outcome of capitalism.
In the Boer war and in the Russo-Japanese war the imperialist economic factors played a part.’ Another view is that the autocratic restriction of trade, and the erection of barriers impeding the flow of goods from one country to another, is the cause of war. Thus the economic causes of modern wars are different. In nature from those of the ancient wars.
However, it would be wrong to suppose that economic factor alone is the cause of war. People must be ready to fight before war can be started. Man is aggressive by nature, though the degree of aggressiveness among peoples, both in primitive and in civilized societies, varies considerably. Between 3,000 B.C. and 1992 there were 14,541 wars; in all that time there were only 292 years of peace. Between 1945 and 1992, our planet experienced not less than 35 fair sized wars Including the Iraq war.
To these may be added 30 or more minor revolts, civil wars, and other small conflicts, for a total of more than 60. France seems to be more aggressive than other countries. Quincy Wright, in his ‘The causes of War and the Conditions of Peace’ noted that since the beginning of the seventeenth century European states fought about 2300 battles.
France was Involved in 49 per cent of them. Austria, Hungary in 35 per cent, and other countries in lesser degrees. Sorokin, in his Social and Cultural Dynamics stated that in 1950 years the French were at war 80 per cent of the time; in period of 875 years the English were at war 72 per cent of the time; and in 275 years, the Germans were at war 29 per cent of the time.
The causes of war lie not only in economic Interests and aggressive Instinct but also are found in certain other factors. These are the desire for power and glory, the Identification of the Individual with the prestige of his group, the sense of insecurity in modern economic life, the resentment left behind by former wars, and the tendency of the people to leave the event to take their course. H. T. Mazumdar mentions seven circumstances under which wars flourish.
(1) Unbridled sovereignty of states,
(2) Power Politics,
(3) The empire system either of the colonial or the totalitarian satellite variety.
(4) Denial of freedom to certain nations,
(5) Racial inequality,
(6) Absence of even-handed justice to all alike,
(7) Non-existence of machinery for peaceful change.
Effects of war:
The effects of modern war upon society are varied and profound. While the wars of the pre-modern period were conflicts between groups that were both politically and socially discrete, modern wars are physical conflicts between politically discrete but otherwise interdependent states. They, therefore, injure both the victor and the vanquished and impose an increasingly heavy burden on all modern people.
No doubt war has been a common place of human history and certain benefits are derived from war, but these benefits have been completely overshadowed by the untold sufferings and miseries that accompany it. The social costs of a modern war are many and impressive. It causes mental derangement in the armed services by creating strains on the minds of the soldiers.
During war all the important social institutions such as family, school and church become subordinated to the state and the army. The traditional functions of these institutions are neglected. Family, suffers the severe jolt, war separates many husbands and wives, encourages hasty and often ill-considered marriages and prevents many parents from providing the parental supervision that they would otherwise give to their children.
For many reasons, a relaxation of sex morality occurs in a nation at war. War propaganda distorts the minds of individuals and stirs up feelings of hatred, turning whole nations into mobs. Instead of calling forth our noble sentiments, war brings out in us the meanest and most brutal traits. People become brutalized as a result of relentless struggle in which no respect is shown for human dignity and life.
Crimes against the state become the norm rather than the exception. The growth of war-occasioned political restrictions places a great strain upon the citizen’s respect for law. Many resent these restrictions. “Black-markets” flourish. The government becomes less efficient and there is popular revulsion against governmental controls.
In addition to these evil effects upon the minds and hearts of people war leads to waste-less expenditure of a huge amount of money. The First World War is estimated to have cost more than $400,000,000,000. The official estimate of the total cost of the Second World War Is $1,116,991,463,034 to which should be added an estimated cost of property damaged amounting to $230,900,000,000.
The United States spent about $ 250,000,000 a day during most of the war: the total amounted to about $ 400,000,000. James H. S. Borsard estimated that the cost of killing a soldier was 75 cent in the Roman wars, $ 3,000 in the Napoleonic War, $ 5,000 in the Civil War, $ 21,000 in the First world War, and $ 50,000in the Second world War.
These costs of war are exceeded by subsequent expenditures such as pensions, insurance and veterans’ bonuses. Barnes calculated that with the money spent on the First World War the following peacetime benefits could have been achieved : a $2,500 house, stocked with $ 1,000 worthy of furniture for every family in England, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, the United States, Canada, and Australia, a $ 5,000,000 library and $ 10,000,000 university for every city of 200,000 inhabitants in these countries; a fund, which, at 5 per cent interest would yield a sufficiently large sum to pay $ 1,000 annually indefinitely to 125,000 teachers and 125,000 nurses; and a remaining sum to buy all the property and wealth in France and Belgium.
It can be easily calculated what could have been achieved with the approximately one and a quarter trillion dollars spent by all belligerents on the Second World War, plus the nearly four trillion dollars in economic losses, including property destruction. Besides, war causes the disorganisation of the internal economy. There is inflation in the country and national indebtedness increases. Inflation and public indebtedness tend to discourage production. Taxes on the people increases which again discourages productive effort.
Moreover, an additional drain upon post-war economy results from the need to make some provision for the families of the dead wounded or otherwise rendered incapable soldiers. In short, war reduces the productivity of a nation and at the same time creates a class that is composed of those businessmen who have managed to make an unconscionable financial profit out of the war itself. This new leisure class is one which draws from but contributed nothing to the productivity of the nation.
As said above, even the winner of the war stands to lose greatly. There is no possibility of securing from the defeated economic compensation for the costs of victory. Territorial gains hardly add much to the productivity of the nation. Sometimes they may even be economic liabilities. The victorious nation for ideological reasons is impelled to aid in the economic rehabilitation of those whom it has defeated.
War also disrupts international economy. It disrupts international trade, breaks up the old system of trade relationships and brings about new forms of international economic disequilibrium. It upsets the international financial structure and results in a host of unplayable and trade discouraging international debts. The aftermath of every modern war has been stagnation in international trade.
How can wars be abolished? It is strange to see that as a means of keeping the peace among its many citizens while the modern state is without peer, in its relations with other states it is the primary breaker of the peace of the world. In its relations with other states the role and the function of the state is entirely reversed.
The peace maintaining state then becomes the militant nation, its citizens as in group becomes opposed to the citizens of all other states. The solution to war, if any, lies in an exhaustive scientific study of the various factors leading to war. The problem of war cannot be solved merely by pious wishes.
The United Nations cannot solve the problem until a scientific research into the problem is made, until more knowledge about human relations is made available. As we have seen above, there is no event that is more disruptive to the normal lives of the people than the advent of war. More is spent by modern states on defence than for roads, public services, education and other things that might contribute to the welfare of the citizens.
Yet war has been subjected to less real scientific study. Some people place the responsibility for war on the shoulders of a single man, the recognised leader of the nation who is said to have precipitated the conflict. Thus, Napoleon is considered the evil genius who caused all the havoc and devastation of the early nineteenth century Europe. Similarly Kaiser is considered to have brought the First World War. Hitler the Second.
That no single individual, however great his role in the making of historical events, can bring about a war of his own volition and is apparent. The personal interpretation of war is no more valid than the personal interpretation of any social phenomenon. Therefore, war cannot be abolished by the execution of the person or persons supposed to have caused the war.
Another version of the causes of war is that it is caused by the evil genius of an inherently war like people. Some people carry “bad blood” which is the cause of war. Thus, the proposal to eradicate the war put forward was to exterminate such people who initiated the war. But this view also does not hold valid. The fact that people who at one period was militant ceased to be militant afterwards is sufficient to disprove this view.
The Swiss were the terror during the fifteenth century; Spain was the most militant power during the sixteenth; Britain and France shared the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth. Then the Germans took to war. That various nations at various times have been exceedingly militant is obvious, but that this militancy has anything to do with the biological characteristics of the people of these nations is not true.
Recently nations which have started war have tried to justify their undertaking. This effort to justify the making of war itself shows that war is considered bad. Some have justified war on the ground of economic necessity while others have justified it on the ground of manifest destiny.
The economic justification was based upon the belief that war was the only means for correcting the existing international misdistribution of the world’s wealth. Prior to 1940, for example, many people in Britain and America believed that Germany and Japan deserved a larger share of the world’s wealth and that if Germany and Japan could not secure it otherwise, they were justified in taking their share by war.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the nations differ greatly in regard to their national wealth and standard of living and that the territorial division of the world has come about by historical accident and incident rather than in accordance with some abstract principles of economic justice. But these facts are ignored by the advocates of have-not argument.
The first is that making of a modern war is so costly that it is not a poor man’s business. The poor and impoverished people cannot set out to conquer the world. The second fact ignored is that the pre-war Germans enjoyed a higher standard of living than either the Poles or the Russians whom they attacked. The third fact is that no nation has been able ‘o improve its economic welfare via war. Every nation that has attempted to do so has lost and lost heavily. As said above even the victor nation loses heavily.
They who have sought to justify war on the ground that a nation is destined by God to rule the nation whom it proposes to conquer on the ground of their being the “best people” are also clearly wrong. We have already shown the hollowness of the view that some men by nature are ‘supermen’ and sent by God to rule over the less fortunate ones.
Thus, any single theory to explain the causes of war and abolish it is not satisfactory. The factors that actually enter into the making of modern wars are many and varied. The underlying cause is the marked functional disequilibrium between the political organisations of the states and their economic and other relationships.
Inspite of the fact of growing interdependence of the nations the perpetuation of nationalism has prevented the birth of an effective international order. We live in twentieth century world that is politically sub-divided in terms of eighteenth century conditions. The consequence is that stresses within and between political units lead from time to time to conflict and war.
As referred to above, the territorial division of the world is a product of historical accident and has little functional relation to technological, economic and other aspects of society. The boundaries of a nation are arbitrary. National sentiments have precluded people from uniting in one political organisation. Having been prisoners of antecedent conditions which gave birth to the nation-state and which nourish the nation-state, we are unable to find a creative approach towards peace.
Most men want peace, out few are willing to grant the power aims of another nation when these aims thwart or destroy the policies of their own nation. Given the worship of the nation-state men have failed to bring in peace. Both war and peace need to be viewed as dynamic processes, not as static events.
Unless the barriers of nationalism break down and durable forms of international political organisation develop, there will be constant conflict between nations that will culminate from time to time in war. Machinery for peaceful change and a new consensus regarding the irrelevance of brute force methods have to be created. Mr. C.E. M. Joad says. “My case is that war is not something that is inevitable, but is the result of certain man-made circumstances, that man, who made the circumstances in which wars flourish, can abolish, them as he abolished the circumstances in which plagues flourish.” However, since the formation of an international political organisation with a world constitution is confronted with serious difficulties and is not feasible in the foreseeable future it appears as if the humanity is not going to get rid of the menace of war during the next few decades. Even if a world war does not occur, local wars between two or more states will continue to take place.
VI. Solutions to Social Problems:
Man has been since the dawn of civilization applying his mind to find out a solution to the problems which he met in the company of his fellowmen. In the primitive days he employed the method of trial and error and frequently resorted to magic and supernatural powers. This was in accordance with his concept of causes of social problems.
Two Methods Remedial and Preventive:
The modern man does not deal with the social problems through magic or supernatural forces but instead undertakes a scientific analysis of social problem. The modern approach at present is more realistic and promises to be more effective. There are two current methods to deal with social problems—remedial and preventive.
The remedial method treats the symptoms or consequences of a problem instead of the underlying causes. The preventive method makes painstaking research to find out all the facts underlying each problem before taking a preventive action. Undoubtedly, if the social problem can be checked at its source, it is the best cure; but the remedial method is now the more common method.
Reformers, seeking solutions to social problems either through remedial or preventive method, have belonged, according to Phelps, to a variety of types through the ages. They have been drawn from the ranks of fanatics, well intentioned persons, opportunists, sentimentalists, laymen, scholars, professional bodies and political leaders.
From the standpoint of solutions advocated by them they may be classified into prohibitionists, diet-faddists, fundamentalists, eugenics. Blue-law advocates, Salvationists, spiritualists, etc. Some reformers advocate an immense variety of cure-all remedies for ushering in the millennium, for example, a few of them see in “education”: or “better educational opportunities” the solution to most or all of our social problems. Henry George advanced the single tax plan (a tax on land), and A.E. Wiggin regarded the biological improvement of the race and prevention of the propagation of the physically and mentally unfit as the solution to most social ills.
Karl Marx regarded the capitalist system as the cause of our problems and held communism as the only way out of most of our problems. Ward regarded universal education and dissemination of knowledge as the chief means of bringing about the millennium. Sorokin felt that salvation lies in a return to more spiritual values, to a stage of idealism. Toynbee maintained that an active recognition of the true values of religion is the only way to avoid doom and to achieve a Kingdom of God on earth.
Solution to social problems is beset with many hurdles. Firstly, the problem should be accepted by the members of a society as a problem and as we know some die-hards may refuse to regard a particular situation a problem. The existing social structure is supported by powerful sentiments and vested interests who deny the existence of the problem to safeguard the advantages accruing to them under the situation. Sometimes these vested interests argue that the remedies proposed would cause greater evils than the problem they are designed to solve.
Secondly, some societies do not want to expose their ways of thinking, feeling and living to scientific inquiry. Thirdly, finances may be a hurdle, the necessary amount of money may not be available or some may object to expenditure for changing the established modes of living of the people. Finally, there is the problem of implementation, we may be possessed of sufficient knowledge of how to deal with a social problem, but that does not guarantee its implementation.
Some thinkers advocate a laissez-faire philosophy to social problems. According’ to Herbet Spencer, man is automatically moving toward a better adjustment to life conditions and meddling in this evolutionary process is inadvisable. Sumner and Keller, too, held that man’s adjustment to conditions of life is automatic. According to them, large scale effective planning may have disastrous results if it is opposed to the mores and folkways.
Thus, we find the thinkers advocating different solutions to social problems according to their concept of causation. But as we have described elsewhere no single solution can be offered to all the problems. Each social problem is to be scientifically and separately studied and solutions are to be found out accordingly. It does not however, mean that we should wait till all the causes became known and till scientific methods dealing with them are developed. Social problems must be dealt with as they come up.
VII. Social Planning:
Social planning is a movement that has recently come into prominence. The days of laissez-faire are over; the majority of sociologists now believe that man must plan on the basis of facts discovered by scientific research in order to deal effectively with the problems facing him. They realise that social problems are mostly man made and can be adequately treated by man. There is no longer any choice between laissez-faire and planning, but only between good and bad planning.
Social planning has been defined by Himes as “a conscious interactional process combining investigation, discussion, agreement and action in order to achieve those conditions, relationships and value that are regarded as desirable.” According to Anderson and Parker, “Social planning is the development of a programme designed to accomplish predetermined objectives for a society or a segment of it.” In other words planning demands decisions about what we are to do, how we are to do it, who is to do it, and how the people affected by it are to be included.
Planning differs from reform. Planning must be distinguished from reform. Reform is remedial and corrective, planning is preventive and constructive even though it is usually undertaken to deal with problems already prevalent in the community. A plan Is laid out as an achievement to be made within a fixed period of time. The emphasis is on the practical rather than on fantastic aspirations.
Contemporary Social Planning:
Planning in recent time is the result of the ever-Increasing number and complexity of problems which In turn, as we have seen earlier, are the outgrowth of technological civilization. In the past problems were not as complex as they are today. They were solved by trial-and-error methods.
But with the growing knowledge and advancement of civilization better and more scientific means were found out to deal with social problems. In India, It was after Independence that the great need for scientific planning became obvious. In the United States it was during the depression-of the 1930’s that the same need was realized.
According to Phelps, contemporary social planning is unprecedented because of:
(i) The importance and complexity of the problems for which solutions are sought
(ii) The number of people that it involves,
(iii) The amount of the financial costs,
(iv) The thorough-going changes it requires, and
(v) The methods of approach.
Aims of Social Planning:
The obvious aim of social planning is to check the recurrence of social problems and to bring about a harmonious adjustment of relationships between the different parts of society. According to Odum, social planning is fundamentally a means to social progress, which he defined as “the mastery of physical and societal forces and the resulting social order through which the continuity of human evolution may be ensured.”
Social planning seeks to provide the means by which a better and richer human existence may be achieved. Unlike planning in the past, which consisted mainly of speculation and exhortation, present-day scientific planning is based upon scientific research and its aim is to produce “the equivalent of a workable blueprint to serve as a programme of action.” According to C.C. North, the aim of social planning is to adapt our culture to present needs.
Barnes and many other sociologists express the view that the aim of social planning is to close the immense gulf separating our social institutions from our material culture by adjusting the institutions to changed conditions of life. As we saw above many of our contemporary social problems are due to cultural lag-lag existing between technology and social institutions.
The misuse of natural resources, the break-up of religion, the demoralization of family life, poverty in the midst of plenty, the high rate of crime and mental disease are all primarily the result of cultural lag. Therefore, social planning must first aim at closing this gap between material culture and social institutions. After this gap has been closed, social planning can proceed to deal effectively with the other problems’ facing society.
Difficulties of Social Planning:
Earlier sociologists, like Spencer, believed that control was neither possible nor desirable. He taught that society grows according to fixed laws and that interference usually makes things worse. Sumner and Keller also wrote that “there is a natural course of things that human societies operate according to natural law, and that arbitrary interferences never destroy the force or alter its laws, but only divert its course and alter its incidence.” Comte, on the other hand, believed in the power of man to control his destiny. Ward later stressed the possibility and importance of social planning through his theory of social thesis.
Experience with planning in recent years enables us to see some of its difficulties:
(i) Emotional Raw-material:
The first difficulty is to get a real understanding of the working of human society. Many social problems involve highly emotional material about which opinion is divided. In economic planning ends are definite and concrete and means are readily susceptible to test; but in the field of social planning there is great controversy on many social questions, for example, on divorce, widow marriage, prostitution, prohibition etc.
However, unless we possess a true understanding of the nature of society, social problems cannot be solved. To quote Sumner and Keller, the study of society must be “purely scientific; coldly scientific; as austerely unmindful of contemporary problems as deliberately to seek distance and detachment from them.” The scientific study of society requires patient and painstaking labour which most of our social planners lack. Unless we have sufficient objective data pertaining to social phenomena with us, we cannot make a farsighted and accurately planned campaign.
(ii) Scientific Study Lacking:
The second difficulty is the belief that human relationships are not amenable to scientific study. Many people seem to believe that the solutions to social problems are known to everybody and that they need only be applied. What is needed is not a scientific study of social problems but only a change in the hearts of men. But by merely a change of heart social problems cannot be solved.
There is nothing wrong with the hearts of men they have always possessed a strong desire for freedom from hunger. The problem of unemployment cannot be solved by a mere desire. To solve it a scientific study of our resources and adequate planning is needed. Similarly, the problem of war and crime can be solved only by a scientific study of the causes which lead to them and by developing definite techniques for dealing with them. Too often, planning proceeds with much enthusiasm but meager data.
Effective planning requires a thorough Investigation of the given problem, the circumstances surrounding it, the possible obstacles, and the probable results of the proposed course of action. If engineers wished to build a bridge over a river, they would hardly proceed without thoroughly investigating the conditions and collecting all the facts essential to understanding the situation so as to know what type of bridge must be planned. Planning without adequate scientific knowledge can only result in failure.
(iii) Lack of Workers:
The third difficulty is the lack of workers and organisation to carry out the work of social planning. The work of social reorganization requires men of imagination, tolerance and integrity. We know far too little about another. There are too many Iron curtains in modern society. Never have self-interest and self-aggrandizement been so naked and unashamed as today. Integrity is our deepest need today.
Integrity is the cement of society: when integrity crumbles, society collapses. The social workers must be people who can be absolutely depended upon, who will not sell their souls for cash and whose moral sense is sound. Social planning requires a high degree of organisation, as in the case of army which may mean discipline and loss of liberty. Concentration of authority is needed for the successful formulation and execution of a plan. Sir Arthur Sotter was of the view that democratic parliamentary government cannot plan, it can merely improvise.
(iv) Vested Interests:
We also find that social planning is often opposed by vested interests who exercise powerful influence over the machinery of government. In carrying out social planning a change In society such as ours Is certain to be Inimical to the Interests of some established groups, but the interests of the whole should not be sacrificed for the interests of a few. The vested interests should be curbed strongly and they should not be allowed to stand in the way of the larger good.
(v) Apathy of the Masses:
The indifference and apathy of the masses is the last difficulty of social planning. Planning would be of little avail, unless the masses learn to view social phenomena objectively and cooperate in the formation and administration of social policy. It is not to be forgotten that social planning is not merely a procedure to be undertaken by authorities or specialists, but requires intelligent understanding and continuous participation by the masses for whom It Is meant.
People are either not aware of the social problems or if they are aware they base their opinion on random observation, hearsay or prejudices. For social planning to be meaningful it must have as its base large numbers of educated persons who have been trained to observe social phenomena intelligently and to arrive at conclusions scientifically.
It may also be mentioned that planning in a democracy is a much more difficult matter than in a totalitarian society. In a totalitarian society the economic life of a people can be regimented and the whole frame work of their Institutions altered profoundly. But in a democracy power is diffuse and there is a multiplicity of vested Interests.
There is traditional suspicion of programmes emanating from government. Techniques for voluntary cooperation are difficult to develop in a competitive society. Further, there is also the difficulty in deciding as to how much of the planning should be at the level of the central government, and how much at the state or local levels. Moreover, there is also much disagreement as to how much of the planning must be government at all, and how much of it can be carried out by voluntary agencies.