Equality is a key feature of democracy and influences all aspects of its functioning
Democracy: A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Equality: Equality is a condition in which adequate opportunities are given to all.
In a democratic country like India, adults, irrespective of their religion, caste education, status or place of birth, are given the right to vote under Universal Adult Franchise.
Universal Adult Franchise:
Right to Vote
On Comparison between Kanta and her Employers
Apart from being poor, people in India experience inequality, which is based on the caste system.
Caste System: Indian society is divided into four primary castes:
Dalit: Dalit, meaning "broken/scattered" in Sanskrit and Hindi. It is a term mostly used for the lower caste members in India. The term is used for those who have been subjected to untouchability.
Joothan refers to scraps of food left on a plate, destined for the garbage or animals. India's untouchables have been forced to accept and eat joothan for centuries, and the word encapsulates the pain, humiliation, and poverty of a community forced to live at the bottom of India's social pyramid.
Areas in which Humans are not treated equally-
When people are treated unequally, their dignity is violated. Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake and to be treated ethically.
Does Equality Exist
(i) In reality, difference exists between rich and poor.
(ii) Caste system is also rigid.
(iii) Dalits in India and minorities are denied the right to dignity and equality.
Against this what does the Constitution of India Say?
Articles 12-35 of the Indian Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights. These human rights are conferred on the citizens of India for Constitution tells that these rights are inviolable. Right to Life, Right to Dignity, Right to Education etc. all come under one of the six main fundamental rights.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution deals with equality before law and equal protection of laws while Article 15 declares that the state cannot discriminate against citizens only on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex and also place of birth.
Excerpt from Article 15 of the Indian Constitution:
Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth:
1. The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
2. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to –
Omprakash Valmiki is a famous Dalit writer who has written an autobiography, Joothan
Problems Faced by Omprakash
Problems faced by Ansari
Mr and Mrs Ansari were looking to rent an apartment in the city. They had the money and so paying the rent was no problem.
(i) The Indian Constitution recognizes every person as equal. However, it does not mean that inequality does not exist in India.
(ii) Four provisions provide equality in India; equality before the law; no discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, religion, race, gender. Everyone has access to all public places and untouchability has been abolished.
Equality in Indian Democracy
(iv) Programmes like mid-day meal scheme have been launched to improve the attendance and enrollment ratio of children in schools.
Mid-day meal (MDM) is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India.
On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate stating, "We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Mid Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government-assisted Primary School with a prepared midday meal."
Benefits of the Midday Meal Programme:
“It is disgraceful to live at the cost of one's self-respect. Self-respect is the most vital factor in life. Without it, man is a cipher. To live worthily with self-respect, one has to overcome difficulties. It is out of hard and ceaseless struggle alone that one derives strength, confidence and recognition."
“Man is mortal. Everyone has to die someday or the other. But one must resolve to lay down one's life in enriching the noble ideals of self-respect and in bettering one's human life... Nothing is more disgraceful for a brave man than to live a life devoid of self-respect.” – B.R. Ambedkar
In many democratic countries around the world, the issue of equality continues to be the key issue around which communities struggle.
Rosa Parks was an African–American woman. Tired from a long day at work she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man on 1 December 1955. Her refusal that day started a huge agitation against the unequal ways in which African–Americans were treated and which came to be known as the Civil Rights Movement.
Still the inequality continues and they are still poor and their children are not able to attend private schools. Some can only afford to go to government schools with fewer facilities.