Equality

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Equality is a prerequisite quality of democracy, along with liberty. There are several dimensions to equality and it has some essential features. These determine the extent of equality. Through this essay, let us explore the extent of equality in India.

Submitted: March 18, 2017

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Content

Submitted: March 18, 2017

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EQUALITY

Topic - What is the extent of equality in India? Explain with suitable examples.

 

According to Barker, equality stands for ‘equal rights for all people and the abolition of all special rights and privileges ‘.

Equality has several dimensions, be it political, social (gender, caste, religion), economic and many more.

When we discuss about the extent of equality in India, I feel the situation is better than it was before; yet a lot needs to be done to secure ‘equality’- a cherished possession of a civil society in its truest sense.

Talking about an essential quality of equality, the grant of equal rights to all, we can safely say that India does endeavour to grant fundamental rights to all, which is even enshrined in our constitution. Indeed, on paper, we all have equal rights and we believe in it too. Yet, in the actual protection of these rights, with the help of the legal and judicial system, there is still a long way to go . The process of securing justice being so cumbersome, it is difficult for the rights to be protected, though there is a provision for ‘right to constitutional remedies’. Yet, awareness about these rights is rising.

For example, a poor woman’s voice is not heard in view of her social standing, though she has the ‘right to freedom of expression’. She is suppressed. She has the right to go to the court to protect her right. Yet, she may be unable to do so because of societal pressure, or even if she is willing, the police and court may not take her seriously. And if it reaches the court, the process of securing justice may be expensive, cumbersome and time – consuming. So she just resigns to her fate and does not get the rights she deserves.

Another important condition for equality is the presence of equal and adequate opportunities for all. Everyone should have an equal opportunity for developing their full potential. This can be secured by granting opportunities for quality education to all. India is trying its best and is working on providing ‘free and compulsory primary education’ under the ‘Right to Education Act’. However, the implementation remains quite poor. Literacy rates might be increasing, yet quality education remains a distant dream for many. Also, though opportunities are granted, access remains difficult.

For example, there are reservations granted to children from backward classes or underprivileged sections of society. It is supposed to be implemented in government and private schools as well, but not many private schools follow this practice. It is also believed that a majority of the government schools do not provide quality education. Now, if a sweeper’s child and a businessman’s child want to study, the businessman’s child may be able to afford to study in a private institution with quality education, while the sweeper’s child may not be able to do so. He might secure reservation in a government institution, which may or may not provide quality education. The key is in improving existing infrastructure, apart from expanding it.

Thus I feel there may be equal opportunities, but they may not be adequate enough.

Coming to the political dimension of equality, it is more or less present in India. Political rights include right to vote, right to form political parties and to form pressure groups, right to contest elections. People of India are granted with all of these rights; whether they are made use of or not is a different story altogether.

For example, a doctor and a vendor, both have the right to vote and every vote has only one value, no matter who the person is. There is no discrimination on basis of class, caste or sex in term of the value of the vote.

So, political equality is present in India to a good extent.

Equality also means the absence of special privileges based on birth, caste, creed, colour, sex, wealth and that these must be put an end to.

I feel India does have special privileges given to the rich, influential and powerful, even if these are not by law, but by the nature of our society.

For example, the entire traffic is blocked because of the arrival of a VIP (Very Important Person) in India on account of his wealth and position. Also, it is a well known fact that India is a patriarchal society, giving men more privileges than women; while by law, all citizens are equal. So, special privileges are present more as a result of the mindset of the people.

Equality also demands an equitable distribution of wealth and resources. It does not mean equal treatment or rewards. It means people get paid depending on the work they do. But people should not be stopped from getting proper treatment on social grounds.

In India, although it has registered a good economic growth, the distribution of this wealth is not really equitable. There are stark differences. The majority of the income is enjoyed by the few richest people, followed by the rich, the middle class, with a quite small share of the income left for a majority of the Indians, many of whom live in poverty.

For example, the fact that in the same country we have Mukesh Ambani and a beggar on the streets highlights this issue.

Equality means equal satisfaction of basic needs for all. These include food, water, shelter, clothing, education, health, security. So long as basic needs of all are not fulfilled, no one should be bestowed with comforts and luxuries. In India, the government is trying its best to ensure that basic needs are provided for. The Public Distribution System, MNREGA, and many more schemes have been launched to help the people get access to basic needs. A lot has been achieved, yet there is lots left to be done.

For example, many poor people have benefitted from the government schemes to some extent, but it may not have helped solved the problem totally. People from privileged sections of society do enjoy the luxuries of life ( like sofa or recliner, expensive decoration pieces etc.), while there are people on the roads who do not know where their next meal will come from.

A lot is left to be done. Strengthening the implementation of existing schemes might play a good role.

Thus, I believe India has equality to some extent, mostly on paper. In some dimensions of equality, India is doing better than the others. Yet there is still a long way to go to make the ideal of equality into a reality. And for this, we need a massive transformation in the mindset of society. Things are slowly changing....

 

Ananya G S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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