Meaning of equality
Bases of Inequality
Universal Adult Franchise
Equality: The term equality means the state of being the same, especially in status, rights or
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
Universal adult franchise:- (Universal Suffrage) It means giving citizens the right to vote, regardless of
Wealth, income, gender, status, race etc.
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
Attending to the routine / emergency family responsibilities.
The above challenges make them doubt whether they are really equal.
2. Other kinds of inequality
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.
Shri Omprakash Valmiki In his autobiography, ‘Joothan’ who is a Dalit writer has revealed the
treatment meted out to him because of his caste.
Dalit: Dalit means ‘broken’ and term the so-called lower castes people.
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.
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
Apart from caste and religion, the other bases for discrimination
The class (particular category) we come from
Discrimination in any form hurts our dignity. Everyone deserves the same respect and dignity as
3. 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.
Midday Meal Scheme
International Scenario on Inequality
Civil Rights Movement
The midday meal scheme:
One of the important schemes that the government has introduced is the midday meal scheme.
In this scheme, all children in all government elementary schools are provided with cooked lunch.
Tamil Nadu was the first state to start this scheme, in 2001, and later all state governments began
this on the instructions of the Supreme Court.
Benefits of Midday Meal Scheme
a. Increased attendance in schools: More and more students have started enrolling and attending
school because of this scheme. Also previously the students used to go home for lunch and not
return post lunch. With this scheme, students need not go home for the same and attend the
school in an uninterrupted manner.
b. Uninterrupted work for mothers: Previously the mothers had to leave their work and attend to/
feed their kids when they came home for lunch but after this scheme was implemented there is
no need for them to do so.
c. Reduction in caste prejudices: Children from all castes and classes sit together and eat their
meal, and in many cases dalit women are employed to cook the meal. This has helped in reducing
caste prejudices to some extent.
d. Better concentration in studies: When the poor students are not hungry, they can concentrate
and study better in the school.
In spite of the introduction of such schemes there continues to be a difference in the kind of
schools that rich children and poor children attend.
What is required is a change in mindset of the people where nobody feels that the other person
is inferior to him.
According to Shri B.R. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, "Nothing is more
disgraceful for a brave man than to live a life devoid of self-respect."
5. International scenario on equality
India is not the only country where there is a struggle for equality.
There are many other democracies in the world where equality continues to be the key issue
around which many communities struggle.
For example in the United States of America, continue to describe their life as largely unequal.
The ancestors of African-Americans were slaves who were brought over from Africa.
This inequality continues despite the fact that there has been a movement in the late 1950s to
push for equality.
One of the discriminatory practices they faced in their daily life was that they had to offer their
seat in the bus whenever any white person wished to sit.
The Civil Rights Movement
Rosa Parks was an African –American.
Her refusal to offer her seat in the bus to a white man on 1 December 1955 started a huge agitation
against the unequal treatment meted out to the African-Americans.
This movement was later called the Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Act 1964:
Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
Stated that all school would be open for African-American children.
However, in spite of such legislations, the African-Americans continued to be extremely poor and could
afford to attend only the government schools which were lacking in facilities and well-qualified teachers.
Challenges of democracy
No country can be described as being completely democratic. There are many communities and
individuals persistently pushing for greater recognition of equality in existing and new spheres.
Dignity: It refers to the thinking of oneself and others as worthy of respect.
Constitution: This is a document that lays down the basic rules and regulations for the people and the
government in the country to follow.
Civil Rights Movement: It is movement that began in the 1950s in which the African-Americans
demanded equal rights and an end to racial discrimination.