Equality: The term equality means the state of being the same, especially in status, rights or opportunities.
Equal Right to Vote: India is a democratic country where all adults (i.e. people who are 18 and above) are allowed to vote irrespective of religion, caste, education level and financial status.
This is, as you know, called the ‘universal adult franchise’ and is an essential component of all democracies.
There are many challenges faced by the poor people in India, in exercising the integral part of democracy mentioned above. The challenges are:
The above challenges make them doubt whether they are really ‘equal’.
The common forms of inequality are based on;
Caste Based Inequality: In rural India, we are identified with our caste and we have experienced the caste system that is prevalent, at a very young age. Even in urban India, caste system is there. In his autobiography, ‘Joothan’ Shri Omprakash Valmiki who is a Dalit writer has revealed the treatment meted out to him because of his caste. The kind of discrimination and cruelty he had faced include:
Dalit: It is a term the so-called lower castes use to address themselves. Dalit means ‘broken’ and by using this word, the lower castes are pointing out to how they were, and continue to be discriminated against.
Based on religion: The discrimination based on religion has to be faced by people in some situations like taking a house on rent, getting admission in schools etc.
Apart from caste and religion, the other bases for discrimination are:
Discrimination in any form hurts our dignity. Everyone deserves the same respect and dignity as anyone else.
The Indian Constitution recognizes every person as equal. It means that every individual in the country belonging to any caste, religion, tribe, economic or educational background is equal.
This does not guarantee any elimination of inequality, but now there are many laws that seek to ensure that people are treated equally and with dignity.
Regarding equality, the following are the provisions in the Constitution:
The government has tried to implement the concept of equality that is guaranteed in the Constitution through:
Laws: There are several laws in India that protect every person’s right to be treated as equal.
Government Schemes and Programmes: Many of these schemes and programmes help the disadvantaged sections of the societies. These offer greater opportunities to the previously discriminated sections of the society for their growth and development.
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