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Is India’s Fraternity not in a More Fatal State?

‘Fraternity – bandhuta- is the most radical and important idea of our times, the necessary foundation to fight all the world’s injustice, hate and inequalities.’ The word, ‘fraternity’ has been derived from the French word meaning ‘brotherhood, friendship, community and co-operation.’ The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being brothers: brotherliness. According to the Collins English Dictionary, fraternity is the friendship and support between people closely linked to each other.   Therefore, fraternity significantly affirms “the dignity of the individuals” and the “unity” of the nation through mutual respect, despite all our difference of religious belief, caste, language, culture, ethnicity, class, and gender. It is a way of feeling and political principle closely associated to solidarity – the idea of standing together, a feeling of togetherness. It denotes ‘the idea of caring, of compassion, of empathy and of love.”

Further,  the word ‘bandhuta’( a beautiful and iridescent word) is a Sanskrit word which reflects ‘the idea that we are bound to and with each other.’ It determines a bond ‘between individuals that is voluntary, reciprocal, of intrinsic rather than instrumental value, and often a source of kindness.’

Four pillars of the preamble of India’s Constitution are justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. According to Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, “Fraternity” means ‘a sense of common brotherhood, of all Indians –if Indians are seen as being one person. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life’. ‘Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It would require a constable to enforce them.’ It was only a dream of our Father of the Constitution. After seven and half decade of ruling of India’s independent and democratic government has been ‘a difficult thing to achieve’ because of divisions of caste and religion, ‘the aggressive use of oppositional political identities – an instrument to harvest votes with.’ ‘Prejudice and inequality are produced and reproduced in our hearts and at homes.’ It has been the most regular fact in India.

Our fraternity is in greater trouble due to religious division. Even, the democratic government fingered the Muslim for the spread of Coronavirus referring to Tablighi Jamat event which was organized with due permission of the law and order authority. So, there was a blame game to destroy our religious solidarity.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has taken a life of about 19000 India’s population. The government has been limited it action with some law and order measures like lockdown, publicity and awareness and some relief. The health care system is very little for the huge infected of India. The country is now at the great economic crisis, while India suffers daily because of failure of fraternity in social and political life. The report shows that ‘two million people continue to die each year because of hunger, lack of clean water, healthcare and a home. The history of ‘the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 recorded the death of three million. The COVID-19 pandemic is just a small comparing to the global death cases. The people of India elect their government. But they do not expect a minimally decent life. The government fails to ensure a decent life for all with food, clean water, free and accessible health care, decent education, housing for all, maternity benefits, childcare services and pension for the aged. India’s single (1) percent population owns 73% of the wealth of the country. Even, it is surprising to note that in 2017, the wealth of this top of the country was higher than the union budget. Privilege classes have no bonds of fraternity with less advantaged.

Then, what about the universal social protection of this democratic Nation? According to Noam Chomsky, ‘the idea of social protection is basically the idea, simply, that we should take care of each other. It is neglected in India. The idea of social protection or the duty of social caring in India does not act and there is no measure to strengthen it. Therefore, fraternity of India is only a constitutional declaration. The government, including political leaders is indifferent desperately to strengthen this fraternity because it is nothing but only politics.

Now the pandemic is a new crisis of India’s fraternity. On the one hand, it has already been thinned social integration because of social distancing and isolation as a primary protective measure to save from the infection of the coronavirus. On the other part, the economic hardship would be the most significant barrier of social conflict and economic distance between the privilege and less advantaged. A new social contract or code of social and economic conduct would emerge in the post pandemic.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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