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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:
- Attending work: Since they are a part of the unorganized sector they are hired and fired at the whims and fancies of their employers. Hence they have to work at any cost so that they can make ends meet.
- Attending to the routine / emergency family responsibilities.
The above challenges make them doubt whether they are really equal.
Basis of inequality
The common forms of inequality are based on
- Caste System
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:
- Being beaten in school.
- Made to sit on the floor whereas his classmates were sitting on a mat.
- Being forced o sweep the school and playground.
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.
Religion Based Inequality
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:
- The class we come from
Discrimination in any form hurts our dignity. Everyone deserves the same respect and dignity as anyone else.
Equality in Indian democracy
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.
Provisions in the constitution (Article 15)
Regarding equality, the following are the provisions in the Constitution:
- Equality before law: Every person right from the President of the country to a daily wager, has to obey the same law.
- No discrimination based on caste, class, religion, gender, race, place of birth.
- Equal access to public place: All people have equal right on public places and amenities like playgrounds, markets, shops, roads, wells etc.
- Abolition of untouchability.
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.