Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Identity Crises: Religious Identity, Identity Politics and Social Justice


Identity is a concept that evolves over the course of life. Identity develops over time and can evolve, sometimes drastically; depending on what directions we take in our life. In the age of globalization, a human being is more aware than old times regarding his community, social and national affairs. A person who identifies himself as part of a particular political party, of a particular faith, and who sees himself as upper-middle class, might discover that in later age, he's a very different person. Perhaps he's no longer interested in politics, he's changed his religion, and he's living on less money than when he was in his younghood. Any variation is possible during a person's life span.  

Religious Identity:
A person's religious identity is the name of the religion that they identify themselves with. In this society people want to know, "What religion are you?" Generally they expect a one-word answer with the name of a religion that expresses their religious identity. A person might say they are a Buddhist - or a Christian - or a Jew - or a Muslim - or a Hindu. These are examples of religious identities. Recent developments in the field of social sciences in general and sociology in particular suggest a gradual tendency towards revival of interest on the issue of religion and identity. It is plausible that religion and identity may be positively correlated. The link between religion and identity can be contextualized through the exploration of the self.

Identity Politics:
Identity politics is a political style that focuses on the issues relevant to various groups defined by a wide variety of shared characteristics, including, but not limited to, race, social classreligion, sex, gender, ethnicity, ideology, nationality, sexual orientation, gender expression, culture, currency, shared history, medical conditions, profession, and other of the many ways in which people differ from each other, and into which they may be classified or classify themselves. This concept played an important role in shaping social and national sphere.

Social Justice:
Social justice denotes the equal treatment of all citizens without any social distinction based on caste, colour, race, religion, sex and so on. It means absence of privileges being extended to any particular section of the society, and improvement in the conditions of backward classes (SCs, STs, and OBCs) and women. Social Justice is the foundation stone of Indian Constitution. Indian Constitution makers were well known to the use and minimality of various principles of justice. Social justice found useful for everyone in its kind and flexible form.

Although social justice is not defined anywhere in the constitution but it is an ideal element of feeling which is a goal of constitution. Feeling of social justice is a form of relative concept that is changeable by the time, circumstances, culture and ambitions of the people. Social inequalities of India expect solution equally. Under Indian Constitution the use of social justice is accepted in wider sense, which includes social and economical justice both.

The major objective of this paper is to critical analyze all the above mentioned conceptions and see their relation with reference to a national character building as the present scenario of India showed a identity crisis between individual’s religious identity and secular objectives of the constitutions. The negative effect of the identity politics ruin ideal nation’s character and negatively affects the concept of social justice too.  For a better nation we should a balanced state of affairs where every citizen has a space to develop him/her self and a motivation to contribute in development of India.

Note : This is submitted for a Three-Day Philosophy Teachers' Meet of North-Western Zone sponsored by ICPR, New Delhi to be organized by the Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar on 29th to 31st Dec. 2015 with the theme "The Crisis of Multiple Identities in Contemporary World"