The first and the most important of all of them is our caste- system, particularly in villages. This is, undoubtedly, a great social curse. This retards the progress in rural areas. For example, if a school is constructed with the help of one particular caste of people, the people of other castes refuse to send their wards to it.
At the same time, people from different castes also refuse to unite and work together, even if it is to uplift their own village. Quarrels and infighting exist even among people of the same caste, for there are again sub-castes within the same caste, which further deepens the rift.
Another problem, which is confined chiefly to the villages, is the practice of child-marriage. Girls and boys are married off, while they are still in their teens or even earlier. The boys do not even start working, before they have their own children which create a lot of problems.
Another big problem is the dowry-system. According to our ancient custom, girls are given gifts of clothes, jewellery, utensils and many other items of daily domestic use to help the newly-wed start their own individual family.
However, the custom has deteriorated to the extent that the groom’s family now openly demands gifts in cash and kind and tortures a bride in order to extort maximum benefit from her parents.
The young girl, sometimes, commits suicide because she is unable to bear the harassment and the pressure on her. This is the most degraded level of humanity to which our society has sunk and which requires urgent, immediate preventive measures.
Another major social problem in our society is the drug addiction. It began a decade ago when college students started falling prey to heroin and L.S.D. and other such drugs owing to the advent of hippie culture.
Now, much more dangerous drugs, like smack, have become the opium of our young boys and girls. The drug makes them dependent on it totally. Their studies come to a full stop. They are lost in a world of desperate fantasy, forgetful of their own future.
In addition to the problems of drug addiction and alcoholism there is the all-pervading social evil of gambling. Our society has suffered from its ill effects right from the distant past Pandavas and Kauravas were so fond of gambling that the former staked even their wife, Draupadi, and lost their kingdom in addition to her.
A gambler too, like an alcoholic and a drug addict, will resort to any level to get the money to satisfy his lust. This seriously disrupts the smooth running of the wheels of the family and makes everyone concerned absolutely miserable.
These are only some of the main social problems which have gripped our entire social fabric. They demand immediate, effective remedies. There are, of course, laws to check and overcome most of these evils. But what is missing is their proper, timely and effective implementation.
There is legislation against the caste-system, child marriage, dowry, drug-addiction, alcoholism and gambling. In each case the offenders are liable to be prosecuted under the law. And yet such offences continue for a number of reasons.
Firstly, not all offenders are brought to book; secondly, the process of law takes years for the final sentence to come. Those who report about the crime are made to appear and reappear in the court making them feel utterly harassed.
The real remedy lies in educating the people about the evils of these problems. For example, the caste – system and child-marriage in the villages can be overcome, only if the people are made to realize the evils of these systems.
Here social workers should make a door-to-door campaign, talking to the villagers to make them understand the retrogressive effects of these customs. Street and community plays have, so far proved highly effective in this respect.
Again, even in the case of the dowry-system, drug addiction, alcoholism and gambling, the real remedy is to make people realize the evils of these. For this, articles in books and magazines can be conveniently put to effective use. Even in educational institutions too, the evils of these should be well-ingrained in the minds of the students.
In the case of drug-addiction and alcoholism, de-addiction camps should be regularly organised. Here, the public too should accept those who overcome their addiction, so that they readily feel themselves to be a useful part of the society, and not misfits.