Sense Of Intolerance Among Communities Causing Polarisation Across The World : CJI DY Chandrachud
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud during his keynote address at the 2023 Jamnalal Bajaj Awards ceremony said that the polarization witnessed both in India and around the world is marked by factors such as the growth of social media, a sense of intolerance among communities, and the short attention spans of the younger generation.“Much of the polarization which we see today across...
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud during his keynote address at the 2023 Jamnalal Bajaj Awards ceremony said that the polarization witnessed both in India and around the world is marked by factors such as the growth of social media, a sense of intolerance among communities, and the short attention spans of the younger generation.
“Much of the polarization which we see today across the globalized world, the polarization between the right and the left and the centre, the polarization which we experience across the world, and India is no exception, is also marked by the growth of social media, the sense of intolerance among communities, the short attention spans with the younger generation has.”
He further suggested that the polarization observed today is not merely a result of the free markets and technology but caused by the societies' inability to recognize the true worth of self-sacrifice for the wider goal. He emphasized the importance of societies understanding the value of self-sacrifice, especially in pursuit of a better future for those marginalized within society.
“But truly, this is not just an isolated phenomenon, which is a product of the free markets and technology. There's something more profound which is going on. And something more profound, which is going on is this. It's in the ability of our societies to not realize at a given point of time, the true worth of self-sacrifice, in pursuit of a wider community goal of enabling those who are the margins of our society to realize a better future for themselves.”
Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasized that while the law can be a source of immense good, it can also be a source of arbitrariness. He pointed out that the impact of the law depends on who wields it and the social conditions in which it is applied. He discussed the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and highlighted that it has assumed a more humanistic tradition based on the society in which that law is continually evolving.
“The importance of the law lies in its ability to create a framework where there is an organized discourse possible and as I said, when we replace the power of the bullet, with the power of reason. But equally there is justice beyond the law. And for justice beyond law, we need to fathom our own hearts, our own communities, to tap the innate goodness in individuals because the law can be a source of immense good”, the CJI said.
Chief Justice Chandrachud delved into the historical context of India's independence, drawing attention to the fact that many nations gained freedom around the same time but struggled to maintain true self-governance. He posed a question: What sets India apart from these nations? The Chief Justice proposed various answers, ranging from the internalization of democratic values to the strength of India's pluralistic culture and its culture of reasoned dialogue—the "argumentative Indian."
The CJI said that it is a uniquely Indian trait of allowing the submergence of the self into infinity. He expounded on the idea that true service involves the submersion of one's ego and identity into the infinite act of serving others and called it a distinctive feature deeply ingrained in the ethos of the Indian subcontinent. The Chief Justice applauded the awardees as living embodiments of this trait, individuals who have fearlessly submerged their own identities for the greater good, often facing personal peril in the process.
Chief Justice Chandrachud referenced Nelson Mandela's struggles against apartheid as an example of the challenges faced by those committed to social reform. He also highlighted the obstacles faced by Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule in their efforts to promote education and social change. These examples underscored the challenges and resistance faced by individuals committed to contributing to the betterment of society and breaking established social norms.
Turning to the challenges faced by those committed to public service, Chief Justice Chandrachud highlighted the importance of reasoned dialogue, emphasizing India's historical tradition of being argumentative for the greater good. He praised the awardees for their commitment to justice beyond the confines of the law, stressing the need to address systemic issues perpetuating inequality and discrimination.
Chief Justice Chandrachud reminisced about his youth, devouring newspapers and looking up to the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards as a national commemoration of ideals that espouse the cause of India.
The Chief Justice then proceeded to spotlight individual awardees, providing insights into their contributions. Awardees for Constructive Work Dr. Regi George and Dr. Lalitha Reddy, Trustees of the Tribal Health Initiative in Tamil Nadu, were lauded for their commitment to remote tribal areas, improving health conditions and reducing infant mortality rates.
Recipient of the Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children Sudha Varghese's work in the development and welfare of women and children was commended. He mentioned her initiatives like Prerna schools and Nari Gunjan, fostering self-reliance and empowering marginalized communities.
The CJI highlighted the work of Dr. Ramalakshmi Datta, who received the Award for Application of Science & Technology for Rural Development, in the application of science and technology for rural development. He detailed her initiatives such as growing plants inside closed bottles, reaching 17,000 people across 273 villages in the Sundarbans.
Global impact was also acknowledged through the endeavours of Raha Naba Kumar, whose contributions outside India and Bangladesh showcased a commitment to education, sanitation, and human rights. He received the International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.
Chief Justice Chandrachud concluded his address with a plea for society to distinguish between justice and charity, highlighting the transformative power of kindness and compassion. “Let us weave together the threads of justice and fairness, not merely as words spoken, but as inspirations fulfilling and fueling our actions. May this ceremony, ignite the spark in each of us to strip the life of justice and selflessness into the fabric of our inclusive society's tapestry.”