This chapter introduces students to the world of equality, where it examines various dimensions and the significance of equality. It also teaches how one can be a promoter of equality by providing in-depth knowledge about various types of equality. We also highlight different political philosophies like feminism, marxism, socialism & liberalism.
What is Equality?
The concept of equality invokes the idea that all human beings have an equal worth regardless of their colour, gender, race, or nationality.
It maintains that human beings deserve equal consideration and respect because of their common humanity. The demand for equality has been raised across the world and has impacted the way the present-day politics are organised. It continues to be raised by struggling groups such as women or Dalits who feel marginalised in our society.
Paradox of Equality
The idea of equality is being accepted by everyone yet everywhere we encounter inequality. It is most visible around us in the world as well as within our own society.
There are glaring differences between what the law promises and what we see around us.
The Concept of Equality
The term "equality" refers to the idea that all people are created equal and should be entitled to the same treatment and income. The term "equality for all" is widely held to be self-evident, but this is not the case in practice. Treating people with equal respect does not always imply treating them the same way.
The smooth operation of society necessitates the division of labour and functions, and people often benefit from different statuses and rewards as a result.
Professor Laski has very aptly remarked in this connection:
“Equality does not mean the identity of treatment or the sameness of reward. If a bricklayer gets the same reward as a mathematician or a scientist, the purpose of society will be defeated. Equality, therefore, means, first of all, the absence of social privilege.
In the second place, it means that adequate opportunities are laid open to all”.
Why Equality is considered a levelling process?
The idea of equality has insisted that all citizens are politically equal, that all citizens are equally entitled to participate in political life, to exercise their right to vote and to run for and hold office.
Individuals should be treated equally before the law, and when the general law confers rights or imposes duties, those rights and duties should apply to all; or, conversely, special privileges should not be granted to specific individuals or groups.”
Types Of Equality
There are the following kinds of equality:
Equality of Opportunity and Education
What is Social Equality?
The term "social equality" refers to the fact that everyone in society has the same status and no one is entitled to special treatment.
All castes, creeds, races, groups and classes, clans, and tribes should be treated equally. Everyone should have the same opportunity to grow as a person. In India, all citizens are treated equally. Untouchability has been abolished, and it is now illegal to practise it.
Although the United States had previously practised racial discrimination, Johnson I was successful in passing a bill in Congress that established social equality (Ex-president). South Africa's racial discrimination policy is still in place.
The United Nations Organisation (UNO) issued a charter of human rights on December 10, 1948, emphasising social equality. However, according to "Amnesty International," a number of countries have violated these rights in the past.
What is Civil Equality?
The concept of civil liberty entails that all citizens have the same civil liberties and civil rights. All people should be treated equally under the law. Superiors and inferiors, rich and poor, caste and creed, colour and race, clans and tribes, groups and classes should all be treated equally.
In England, the rule of law is in effect, and everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. The rule of law ensures that everyone is treated equally. India is in a similar situation.
What is Political Equality?
Political equality refers to everyone having equal access to political power. All citizens should have the same political rights, have a similar voice in the government's operations, and have equal opportunities to actively participate in the country's political life and affairs.
It ensures that all citizens have access to similar political rights.
Universal Adult Franchise
In India, Universal Adult Suffrage has been implemented. The United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, the United States of America, France, and a number of other countries have made similar provisions.
Switzerland had previously granted women the right to vote in February 1971. There are many countries in Asia and Africa where political equality has yet to be established.
What is Economic Equality?
It refers to the provision of equal opportunities to all people so that they can advance economically. The terms 'economic equality and 'political equality are often used interchangeably.
Professor Laski explains why economic equality is so important: "Political equality is never real unless it is accompanied by virtual economic liberty; otherwise, political power is destined to be the handmaid of economic power."
Economic equality, according to Lord Bryce, is "the attempt to eliminate all differences in wealth by allocating an equal share of worldly goods to every man and woman."
This idea of economic equality will never be realised in real-life politics.
Equality of Opportunity and Education
Equality of opportunity and education requires the government to provide equal and comparable opportunities to all citizens. Everyone should have access to the same level of education. They should have the same opportunities to grow as individuals. Discrimination of any kind, whether racial or otherwise, should be avoided.
Caste and creed, race and colour, and wealth and poverty should all be treated equally. Everyone in India is given the same opportunities and has equal access to educational opportunities.
Entrenched inequalities, or those that have remained relatively unchanged over generations, are more dangerous to society. If certain social classes accumulate significant wealth and the power that comes with it over generations, society will be divided into those who have remained poor and those who have accumulated significant wealth.
What is Feminism?
Feminism is a political philosophy that advocates for equal rights for men and women. Feminists are men and women who believe that many of the inequalities between men and women that we see in society aren't natural or necessary and that they can be changed so that both men and women can live lives that are free and equal.
Patriarchy, according to feminists, is the cause of social inequality between men and women. Feminists challenge this way of thinking by distinguishing between "sex," which refers to the biological difference between men and women, and "gender," which refers to the various roles that men and women play in society.
Feminists call this distinction into question, pointing out that most women are also involved in the “public” domain. That is, while the majority of women around the world work outside the home, they continue to be solely responsible for household chores.
What is Marxism?
Marx was a significant nineteenth-century thinker who argued that private ownership of important economic resources such as oil, land, and forests, as well as other forms of property, was the root cause of entrenched inequality. He emphasised that private ownership not only made the owners wealthy but also gave them political power.
They can influence state policies and laws with such power, which could pose a threat to democratic government. As a result, in order to address inequality in society, we must go beyond equal opportunity and attempt to ensure public control over essential resources and forms of property.
What is Socialism?
The term "socialism" refers to a set of political ideas that arose in response to inequalities that existed in and were reproduced by the industrial capitalist economy. Socialism's main concern is how to reduce existing inequalities and fairly distribute resources.
Although supporters of socialism are not completely opposed to capitalism, they do favour government regulation, planning, and control over key areas such as education and health care.
Ram Manohar Lohia: Proponent of Socialism in India
He identified five kinds of inequalities that need to be fought against simultaneously: inequality between man and woman, inequality based on skin colour, caste-based inequality, colonial rule of some countries over others, and, of course, economic inequality.
Sapta Kranti: He did not speak of revolution in the singular. For him, the struggle against these five inequalities constituted five revolutions. He added two more revolutions to this list: a revolution for civil liberties against unjust encroachments on private life and a revolution for non-violence, for renunciation of weapons in favour of Satyagraha.
These were the seven revolutions or Sapta Kranti which for Lohia was the ideal of socialism.
What is Liberalism?
Liberals uphold the principle of competition as the most efficient and fair way of distributing resources and rewards in society. Competition between people in free and fair conditions is the most efficient way of distributing rewards in society.
For them, as long as competition is open and free, inequalities are unlikely to become entrenched and people will get a due reward for their talents and efforts.
For liberals, the principle of competition is the most efficient way of selecting candidates for jobs or admission to educational institutions.
How Can We Promote Equality?
Equality can be promoted by the following:
Establishing Formal Equality
Equality through Differential Treatment
Establishing Formal Equality
Inequalities have been protected all over the world by customs and legal systems that prevent certain segments of society from benefiting from certain opportunities and rewards. To achieve equality, all such restrictions or privileges must be removed.
Because many of these systems are sanctioned by law, equality necessitates the government and the law of the land ceasing to protect these inequalities.
Discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth is prohibited by the Constitution. Untouchability is also prohibited by our Constitution.
Equality Through Differential Treatment
In order for people to have equal rights, it is sometimes necessary to treat them differently. For this reason, certain individual differences may need to be considered. Affirmative action policies have been used in some countries to improve equality of opportunity.
In our country, we have relied on a reservation policy.
Equal opportunity and education mean that the government should provide equal and comparable opportunities to all citizens. Everyone should have the same opportunity to receive an education. Individually, they should be given the same opportunities to grow. Discrimination of any kind, whether racial or not, should be avoided at all costs.
Caste and creed, race and colour, and wealth and poverty should all be considered equal. Everyone in India is given the same opportunities and has equal access to education.
Inequalities that have remained relatively unchanged over generations are more vulnerable in society.
If certain social classes have accumulated significant wealth and the power that comes with it over generations, society will be divided into those who have remained poor and those who have accumulated significant wealth.