India materialised itself as an independent nation-state on 15th August 1947, after a long freedom struggle against the British colonial rule and gave itself a constitution which made India a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, the Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. Since then, the Indian growth story has earned monumental growth in all spheres, yet there are numerous challenges that India faces today in its everyday social life, which are intertwined in a way.
To name a few, the major challenges that India faces revolve around: Poverty, Pollution, Illiteracy, Corruption, Inequality, Gender discrimination, Terrorism, Communalism, Unemployment, Regionalism, Casteism, Alcoholism, Drugs Abuse, Violence against Women.
The challenges can be better understood if discussed systemically. It can be done by segregating them based on the segment of the society they are affecting the most and then touching upon the challenges that affect the society as a whole.
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE CHILDREN:
1. Child labour:
- Child labour still flourishes in India, despite gains made by the social reforms. Over 10 million children are working in labour-intensive fields in our country. Poverty and an inadequate educational system push the child into the grip of child labour.
- In many cases, the parents also force their children into work to financially support their families. It’s also the only survival mode for children who are homeless or abandoned.
- Spreading awareness, bringing more stringent laws and effective implementation, sending more children to schools, discouraging people to employ children in homes, shops, factories, etc ca
Constitutional and legal safeguards:
- Article 24: (Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.) No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
- Article 39 (e): The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength
- Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 1986: The Rules provide a broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. It also clarifies issues related to helping in family and family enterprises and the definition of family with respect to child, specific provisions have been incorporated in rules.
- India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Over 33 lakh children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the severely malnourished category with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat. More than a third of the children under five face stunting and wasting and 40% aged between one and four are anaemic.
- Services like ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) and midday meals in schools have become irregular during the prolonged closure of schools due to pandemics.
- National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5: Every third child still suffers from chronic undernourishment, and every fifth child is acutely malnourished.
- Unless challenges related to adequacy in budgetary allocations to secure nutrition security of children and bottlenecks in utilisation are addressed, India will be unable to mitigate the loss caused due to the pandemic.
- The partial closure of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) during pandemic along with disruptions in supply chains due to subsequent lockdowns has resulted in halting of mid-day meals scheme, reduced access to take-home ration (a nutritional measure to supplement some portion of a child’s calorie needs) and restricted mobility to health care services.
Steps taken by the government:
- Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme
- POSHAN Abhiyaan
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
- National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- National Nutrition Strategy (NNS)
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- One Nation One Ration Card
- National Iron Plus Initiative for Anemia Control
- Neglect of Indian Languages: In many cases, standard education is not accessible in native Indian languages. New Education Policy emphasis on the mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students from poor, rural and tribal backgrounds.
- Financial Constraint: As per the right to education act children are provided free education till the age of 14, post that they are out of the coverage of Right to Education (RTE).
- Higher dropout rates: It is all due to several factors such as poverty, lack of toilets, long distance to school, child marriages, patriarchal mindset, and cultural factors.
- Quality of teachers: Lack of trained and skilled teachers is another problem mostly faced by our elementary education system.
- Lack of Infrastructure: Major challenges faced by public schools is the lack of drinking water facilities, electricity, toilets, and poor hygiene, etc.
- Digital Literacy: Having poor or no access to digital devices, especially computer learning is a challenge to improve digital literacy in rural students.
</table class="table table-bordered">4. Gender bias against girl child:
- The demographic transition in India has brought along an ugly unintended consequence-a historically strong preference for sons over daughters in these societies has strengthened with the decline in fertility, thus worsening the female-male sex ratio at birth.
- Dowry is also one of the main causes of the low sex ratio.
- Women should also be socialized from early childhood to consider themselves equal to men.
</table class="table table-bordered">5. Child Abuse:
- Child Abuse is defined as “injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child”. Cases of child abuse are reported from everywhere -in cities and rural homes, in the homes of the rich and the poor, and in the streets and schools.
- Articles 14, 15, 15(3), 19(1) (a), 21, 21(A), 23, 24, 39(e) 39(f) of the Constitution of India contain provisions for the protection, safety, security and well-being of all its people, including children.
6. Child trafficking:
- It is a crime that uses girls and boys for many purposes, including forced labour and sex. It is associated with criminal activity and corruption. When human trafficking occurs, children are often victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation or for work, such as domestic service, factory work, agricultural work, mining.
- Indian laws do not have a legal definition of child trafficking. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956, deals only with the trafficking of minors for prostitution. However, other laws are present which can assist in child trafficking – Indian Penal Code, Juvenile Justice Act 2000, Andhra Pradesh Devadasi’s (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1988, Bombay Prevention of Begging Act etc. Article 23 (1) of the Indian constitution has a specific provision dealing with the Prevention of trafficking and forced labour.
- Juvenile delinquency refers to the crimes committed by minors. The crimes done by teenagers are generally done without having proper knowledge of it is opined that they know very little about the world and are not aware of repercussions of their actions.
7. Reasons behind Juvenile Delinquency:
- Exposure to violent media: Watching content like murder, violence, etc. may negatively affect the mind of the teenager.
- Trauma: Trauma of any childhood or teenage incident may have a negative effect on the mind.
- Lack of parental control:
- Lack of Knowledge: Committing crime unknowingly.
- Economic Factors: Unsatisfactory desires and basic needs
- It is important to eradicate this practice from society to keep control of the problem of Juvenile Delinquency. It is in the best interest of the deviant child to rehabilitate him as early as possible and integrate him back into society.CHALLENGES FACED BY THE WOMEN:The main problem that lies in society is the rules set for women, about conduct and behaviour. Some of them are problematic as a woman cannot step out at night without a man, this subconsciously is only promoting the idea that women are unsafe, and due to this in many homes in India, the families treat the girls differently than boys.1. Low Sex Ratio at Birth:
- The sex ratio at birth for the country was still 929 females per males-an an improvement from 919 in 2015-16, but still lower than the natural standard of 952 female births per 1,000 male births.
2. Women and Health:
- Women, despite working as caretakers both in and outside the household, are the most neglected lot. Promotive and preventive health of females are equally important and must be stressed upon.
Health Scenario of women:
- Malnutrition: As many as 57% of women aged 15-49 were anaemic in 2019-21, compared to 53% in 2015-16. Maternal malnutrition has been associated with an increased risk of maternal mortality and also childbirth defects.
- Lack of maternal health: Poor maternal health not only affects a child’s health in adverse ways but also decreases a woman’s ability to participate in economic activities.
- Non-Communicable Diseases: Commonly occurring issues such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), breast cancer and endometriosis are still subject to taboo and stereotypes. This reflects the current state of women’s health in India in a poor light.
- The health of Adolescent Girls: At the adolescent age 70% of the girls are anaemic and their problems related to their menstrual health and hygiene often go unaddressed.
- Teenage Pregnancies: There are 3 times more chances of deaths of girls in teenage pregnancies. The reproductive and sexual health needs of women are often ignored.
3. Violence/crime against Women
- Gender-based violence against women is among the most egregious and commonly experienced abuses of women’s rights. Intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, are a barrier to women’s empowerment and gender equality, and a constraint on individual and societal development, with high economic costs.
- Cyber Crime against women: The open and unregulated nature of the internet and the irrelevance of geography means that the internet provides futile ground for criminal enterprise. Incidences of Harassment through e-mails, Cyber Stalking, Cyber defamation, Cyber Bullying, Cyber grooming are getting more frequent nowadays.
- National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, points to rising instances of domestic and sexual violence against women in the state. The survey shows that married women, between the ages of 18-49, who have ever experienced spousal violence, has more than doubled from 20.6 in 2014-15 to 44.5%.
Steps taken by the government:
- UJJAWALA: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
- One-Stop Centres – SAKHI: Provide an integrated range of services to women affected by violence: medical aid, police assistance, legal aid/case management, psychosocial counselling, temporary shelter
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961: Ensure effective functioning of Dowry Prohibition Officers (DPOs) appointed by State Government.
- The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Nirbhaya Fund: Districts can put up proposals through concerned departments of State Governments for innovative projects on the safety and security of women under the Nirbhaya Fund.
- Mahila Shakti Kendra (MSK):to provide one-stop convergent support services to empower rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.
4. Gender discrimination: Gender discrimination is the unequal or disadvantageous treatment inflicted on someone because they belong to a specific gender. It is usually the women who usually have to face such gender discrimination.
5. Challenges posed to women education
- High drop-out rates: Increased female enrolment is, compromised by persistently high rates of drop-out and poor attendance of girls relative to boys.
- Social factors: Early marriages, girl children are not allowed to go outside the house.
- Health factors: frequent ill-health of the student especially female due to lack of nutritious food and unhygienic conditions in living areas.
- Patriarchy and social Perceptions: The position of women in the social, political and economic system, is very low.
- Son preference: Boys (highlighted in economic survey 2018) are educated in private and better schools which are of (perceived) better quality.
- Quality of education and infrastructure: The absence of a girl’s toilet is a common complaint and can cause parents to decide that it is not worth their girl child going to school.
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE ADULT POPULATION:
- Unemployment is high and the informal sector is in a shambles state. The global downturn of the last two or three years, aggravated by the pandemic, has added to the existing problem of unemployment.
- The gig economy is nascent in India, but growing at a steady pace. Currently, these workers are not covered under health, ESI, PF or any other scheme as the gig economy is not yet defined as a way of life.
- The Ministry of Labour and Employment has been working on a “Social Security Code” to ensure labour benefits for gig-economy workers.
Causes of Unemployment:
- The education system is unable to fulfil the requirement of the job market: The syllabus taught in schools and colleges, being not as per the current requirements of the industries.
- Lack of alternative opportunities: Low productivity in the agriculture sector combined with a lack of alternative opportunities for agricultural workers makes the transition from primary to secondary and tertiary sectors difficult.
- Regressive social norms often deter women from taking/continuing employment or restarting their careers after a break.
- Large population: The rising population is accompanied by a rise in the labour force of the community which leads a substantial chunk of the population to unemployment.
2. Challenges to adolescent and young adult health:
- Major health issues impacting young people include undernutrition and overnutrition, common mental disorders including stress and anxiety, suicidal tendencies and increased suicidal death rates, increased consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other substance use.
Major issues faced by adults:
- Injuries: “Vulnerable Road Users”, including pedestrians, cyclists or users of motorized two-wheelers get scummed to road injuries.
- Violence: Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death in adolescents and young people.
- Mental Health: Depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15–19 years.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Alcohol and drug use in children and adolescents is associated with neurocognitive alterations which can lead to behavioural, emotional, social and academic problems in later life.
- Early Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies
- Undernutrition and obesity
Initiatives by the government:
- Strategic investments in health, nutrition, education and welfare are critical for the healthy growth of young people.
- Initiatives like Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Scheme can go a long way in securing health for all in India.
- Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana(PMJJBY)
- Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana(PMSBY)National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)
- National Iron Plus Initiative for Anemia Control
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE ELDERLY POPULATION:
According to the Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons in India.
- Lack of physical infrastructure is a major deterrent: With increasing longevity and debilitating diseases, many elder citizens will need better access to physical infrastructure in the coming years.
- Loneliness and isolation are major concerns among elderly Indians: Negligence by kids towards their old parents.
- Mental health issues: The country is ill-prepared to deal with the increasing incidence of Dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression amongst the elderly.
- Financial dependence: Retirement and dependence of elderly on their child for basic necessity.
- Rapid transformation, urbanization, technical & technological change, education and globalization makes it difficult for them to adopt these changes, resulting in the weakening of intergenerational ties.
Initiatives by government and legal provisions:
- Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP)
- Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY)
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
- Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY)
- The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana
- Vayoshreshtha Samman
- Article 41 and Article 46 are the constitutional provisions for elderly persons
- Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
Elderly peoples carry the immense experience of their personal and professional life, society at large needs to channelise those experiences for a better tomorrow. The private sector also needs to step in with innovative, scalable & affordable Elder Care solutions.CHALLENGES FACED BY THE SOCIETY AS A WHOLE:
1. Caste System:
- The caste system generally means the categorization or division of people into different groups based on their caste. Many a time, this caste-based discrimination also led to violence.
- The four groups in which people of Indian society were: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisya and Shudra or the Dalit people.
Evil faces of this system:
- Division of Labour
Initiatives by the government:
The Indian Government has enacted laws to remove untouchability and has also brought in many reforms to improve the quality of life for the weaker sections of society.
A few of them are:
- Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights
- Abolition of ‘untouchability’ in 1950
- Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Provision of reservation in places like educational institutions, for employment opportunities etc.
- Establishing social welfare departments and national commissions for the welfare of scheduled castes and tribes
These measures adopted by the government have brought some relief to the weaker sections of society. The urban areas have shown a good amount of impact and some improvement.
- Article 14: Equality Before Law
- Article 15: Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas
- Article 16: Equality in Matters of Public Employment
- Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability
- Article 18: Abolition of Titles
- The region is a multidimensional concept encompassing geographical as well as economic and sociocultural factors such as language.
The following are the possible factors for demarcating a region:
- Language or linguistics basis
- Caste (jatis) basis
- Ethnic groups basis
- Tribes basis
- Particular social settings form as a basis
- Cultural patterns form as a basis
- Music, dance, folk arts, etc.
Regionalism based Issues in India: Examples
- Demand for Dravida Nadu
- Bodoland Demand within Assam
- Demand for Khalistan
- Demand for Greater Nagalim
Measures And Solutions to Prevent Regionalism
- Imparting feeling of one nation: By providing funding, developing infrastructure, recognizing the culture of both conflict and no-conflict regions.
- Minimising interference of central government in state affairs: State governments should be given genuine autonomy or transfer of power.
- Legislative Mechanism: leaders who inflict regionalism must get punished which will act as a deterrence.
- Peaceful and constitutional approach for solving existing problems.
- Promoting inclusive growth and trying to achieve equitable development.
- Secularism is an outcome of the relationship between the state and religion. India, being a cradle of several religions, ensures equal social participation and recognition of all religions. The state shall be unbiased in promoting religions and in safeguarding religious institutions. Minority religions are another important principle of secularism.
Challenges to Secularism:
- Communal Politics
- Domination based on Religion
- Forced Conversion
- Constitutional Contradiction
- Growing Fundamentalism
- Lack of Tolerance
- Social Inequalities
- Practice of Pseudo-secularism
Steps Taken to Promote Secularism
Sachar Committee was designated to find out the socio-economic conditions of Muslims (2005–2006) and the Ranganath Misra Commission was set to ascertain the status of Religious and Linguistic Minorities (2004–2007).
- Abolition of separate electorates and introduction of the universal adult franchise after independence.
- National Integration Council (NIC) was formed in 1961 under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
- Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for minorities.
- Introduction of welfare schemes like Nai Udaan, Nai Roshni (leadership development among minority women), Seekho aur Kamao (Learn and Earn).
4. Fake News Menace:
- News, stories or hoaxes created intentionally to misinform or deceive readers falls under Fake News.
- Causes of Spread of Fake News in India
- Social Media: It has decentralised the creation and circulation of fake news.
- Polarization of society: Fragmentation of society based on ideological lines has made the spread of fake news easier.
- Lack of legal provisions: There is no specific law to deal with fake news in India.
- Confirmation Bias: People are more inclined to support their preferred narrative instead of finding the truth behind the news.
Tacking menace of Fake News:
- Removal of Fake News
- Educating the end-users and fast checking the content of the news for a mismatch.
- Tracking down the source of fake news.
- Poverty is a multidimensional concept. Poverty is a state or condition in which a person lacks the resources for a minimum standard of living.
- According to Global MPI 2021, India’s rank is 66 out of 109 countries. It has three equally weighted dimensions – health, education, and standard of living.
Poverty Estimation in India:
- Y. K. Alagh Committee, 1979
- D. T. Lakdawala Committee, 1993
- Tendulkar committee, 2005
- Rangarajan Committee, 2014
NITI Aayog has released the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI):
- It has three equally weighted dimensions-health, education, and standard of living. These three dimensions are represented by 12 indicators such as nutrition, school attendance, years of schooling, drinking water, sanitation, housing, bank accounts among others.
- The national MPI measure uses the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UNDP.
Government Initiatives for alleviating poverty:
- National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA)
- Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G)
- Public Distribution System (PDS)
- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)
- Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)
- Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya)
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)
- One Nation One Ration Card
6. Digital Divide:
- The digital divide has been a challenge for a while now. The digital divide has posed itself as a major challenge during pre and post-pandemic phases.
- The digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology (ICT), and those that don't or have restricted access.
Economic disparity is created between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t. The digital divide in a way hinders the social progress of a country. The disadvantaged sections of society have to bear the brunt.
- Unfair Competitive Edge
- Disparity in Learning
- Decreased Productivity Among the Poor
- Political empowerment and mobilisation in the age of social media are difficult when there is a digital divide.
Initiatives by the government:
- National Education Policy, 2020.
- Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA).
- PM eVidya.
- Swayam Prabha TV Channel
- SWAYAM portal
- One of the greatest problems that India is facing today is that of environmental pollution, which is causing grave and irreparable damage to its society.
- Environmental pollution is becoming a major problem in megacities. Rapid Urbanisation has also played a key role in increasing the pressure of the limited resource and that has resulted in environmental degradation.
- In many cases, rampant industrialisation has resulted in environmental injustice. Environmental justice can be defined as fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
- The scientific arrangement is to be made to dispose of the solid waste including the garbage. New industries should not be permitted to start their establishments near residential areas. On the other hand, industries should be established far away from the cities.
- Voluntary organizations and the media can play a vital role in curbing the negative effects of pollution. People should be educated properly to maintain cleanliness in the city.
Indian society has undergone transformation and advancements in diverse fields. This has led to the formation of a composite society with various socio-cultural issues that need to be tackled in addition to the issues like security of the people, in particular of the vulnerable section-such as women, children and elderly. For centuries, we have shown strength in creating order from complexities, bringing together diversified groups to benefit the wider society, invigorating harmony among people with contrasting interests. This exemplifies the innate strength of Indian society on which it can rely to meet all future challenges.