Socio-Cultural Issues in Contemporary India

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practicing in the Bombay High Court. He can be reached at aditya@adityapratap.com

The Indian society has evolved through the ages and advancements have taken place in diverse fields. However, in every society, there are socio-cultural issues that need to be addressed and tackled. Security of people, particularly of the vulnerable sections, such as women, children, and elderly people is a major concern in contemporary Indian society.

In this article, we will read about the major socio-cultural issues that need our immediate attention, if we have to preserve our social and cultural values. Some of the important socio-cultural issues that need to be addressed today are casteism, dowry, communalism, drinking, drug addiction, etc.

Caste System

The caste system in India has its roots in ancient India. Just as the ashrama dharma laid down rules and duties with reference to the individual’s life in the world, varna or caste system prescribed duties with reference to the particular caste to which an individual belonged.

Caste-based discrimination has at times even led to violence. The caste system also makes the working of democracy in our country difficult. Society gets divided into artificial groups that tend to support the candidate who belongs to their caste. They do not pay much attention to the fact of whether he or she is a deserving candidate or not. This is not good for the
health of democracy in India. Our country cannot make real progress unless this system is uprooted completely.

Issues Related to Women

Our Constitution gives equal rights to both men and women in every field. Today, women enjoy voting rights, right to inheritance, and property. In fact, the Constitution lay down that the government should promote with special care the interests of the weaker sections of the people. Several laws have been passed since independence to promote the interests of women. These laws relate to marriage, the inheritance of property, divorce, dowry, etc. In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed to provide for equal remuneration to men and women for similar work.

  • Gender Discriminations

In India, females are discriminated in various fields like health, education, and jobs. The girls carry the liability of dowry on their heads, and they have to leave their parents home after marriage. Besides, in order to safeguard their old age parents prefer to have male offspring. Many female babies are aborted, abandoned, deliberately neglected, and underfed simply as they are girls.

This is worst in the state of Rajasthan. But now there is a great change in this direction. In some states like Haryana where the girl child ratio is very low, the government has taken out many schemes to promote the education of girls. Reservation of jobs for women and even six months of maternity leave is provided to them besides many others.

  • Dowry System

The practice of dowry is one of the worst social practices that has affected our culture. In independent India, one of the landmark legislations is the passing of the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 by the Government of India. Despite the fact that the practice of both giving as well as accepting dowry is banned by law and such acts are punishable offenses, the system is so thoroughly embedded in our culture that it continues unabated.

Whether it is rural or urban India, the blatant violation of this law is rampant. Not only dowry deaths, even most of the acts of domestic violence against women including psychological as well as physical torture are related to matters of dowry.

Communalism

India is a country of different religious faiths. Persons belonging to different communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Parsees, etc. live in India. The aggressive attitude of one community towards the other creates tension and clashes between two religious communities. Hundreds of people die in communal riots. It breeds hatred and
mutual suspicion. Communalism is an issue that needs to be tackled and eradicated. It poses a great challenge to the democracy and unity of our country.

It is, therefore, a major obstacle in the path of our progress. Education is one very important means through which we can hope to bring peace and harmony in society. We must remember that we are all human beings first before we belong to a religious community. We must respect all religions. Our country is secular, which means that all religions are treated equally and everyone is free to follow their own religion.

Issue related to Poverty and Unemployment

A large section of our population lives under the poverty line. There is huge unemployment. Inflation and price rise has added to the problem. With a significant number of people living below the poverty line, its impact on socioeconomically marginal families in the form of poor quality of life, disease, low literacy, malnutrition, and child labor becomes a serious concern. Nearly a quarter of the population that belongs to the scheduled category is almost entirely below the poverty line. Poverty is a fundamental problem, hindering development objectives.

Issues related to Problem with Children

A child in the age group of 6-14 years is supposed to be in the school. But unfortunately, of the 200 million Indian children in this age group, about 11.3 million are laborers. The estimate by NGOs puts it at 60 million, of which 2,00,000 work as domestic help and almost an equal number as bonded laborers. These children become vulnerable to physical and mental exploitation, they are starved, beaten, and even sexually exploited. This is a serious problem and is generally known as ‘child abuse’.

Right to Education Act, 2009 provides for the education of all children between the age of 6- 14 years of age. Once this cherished goal of education for all is achieved, the state of our children will be much better

About the Author – Aditya Pratap

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.

Cases argued by Aditya Pratap can be viewed here.

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