JAC Board Class 7 Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 1 On Equality
→ Equality is the main characteristics of democracy and affects all aspects of its functioning.
→ Equal Right to Vote:
- In India which is a democratic country, all adults irrespective of what religion they belong to, how much education they have had, what caste they are, or whether they are rich or poor are allowed to vote is called Universal Adult Franchise.
- The idea of universal adult franchise is based on the idea of equality because it states that every adult in a country, irrespective of their wealth and the communities she/he belongs to, has one vote.
→ Other Kinds of Equality:
- Many kinds of inequalities exist in our country till now. One of the most common form is the caste system which is alive from centuries in India which also creates division among human beings.
- Another form of inequality exists is lower castes or Dalits.
- Dalit means ‘broken’ and lower castes are pointing to how they were and continue to be seriously discriminated against and exploited most of the time.
- Dalits belong to the unprivileged class.
- Omprakash Valmiki is a famous Dalit writer who wrote his harsh experience and feelings in his autobiography, ‘Joothari. He mentioned that how he was tortured by the teachers. He had to clean and sweep the floors and playgrounds while the other children were in the class studying.
- There is another form of inequality which exists. The religion is also a big factor. The Ansaris were not given apartments on rent by many landlords and landladies because of they were from different religion. So made different types of excuses.
→ Recognising Dignity:
- The three things – the caste we are bom into, the religion we practice and the class background we come from whether we are male or female determines why some people are treated unequally.
- The above things happened with Omprakash Valmiki and the Ansaris who were treated unequally on the basis of differences of caste and religion.
- The dignity of a person is violated when the person is treated unequally.
- In the case of Omprakash and the Ansaris, they do not deserve to be treated like this. They deserve the same respect and dignity as anyone else.
→ Equality in Indian Democracy:
- The Indian Constitution recognizes and acknowledges every person as equal. This means that every individual in the country including male and female persons from all castes, religions, tribes, educational and economic backgrounds are recognised as equal. This is not to say that inequality ceases to exist. It doesn’t.
- Earlier no law existed to protect people from discrimination, torture and ill-treatment but now there are many works to see that people are treated with dignity and as equals. This means that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of their caste, creed, place of birth, religion, race, etc.
→ The recognition of equality consists some of the following provisions in the Constitution:
- First, that every person is equal before the law. This means that every person from the President of the country to a domestic worker has to obey the same laws. Everyone is equal in front of law.
- Second, no person can be discriminated against on the basis of their religion, race, caste, place of birth or whether they are female or male.
- Third, every person has access to all public places including playgrounds, hotels, shops and markets. All persons can use publicly available wells, roads and bathing ghats.
- Fourth, untouchability has been abolished.
→ The government has tried to implement the equality that is guaranteed in the Constitution by two ways.
- First through laws
- Second through government programmes or schemes to help disadvantaged communities.
- Apart from the laws, the government has also set up several schemes to improve the lives of communities and individuals who have been treated unequally for several centuries.
- The midday meal scheme is one of the steps taken by the government. This scheme was introduced in all government elementary schools to provide children with cooked lunch. The first state in India was Tamil Nadu to introduce this scheme, and in 2001, the Supreme Court asked all state governments to begin this scheme.
- This midday meal scheme has many positive results. This has helped to lessen the caste prejudices because both lower and upper caste children in the school eat this meal together. Apart from this, in few places, Dalit women have been employed to cook the meal.
- The midday meal scheme also helped to reduce the hunger of poor students who often come to school and cannot concentrate because their stomachs are empty. Hence, there is increase in the enrollment and attendance of poor children in school.
- Despite of all these efforts, there continues to be a huge differences in our country between schools that the. rich attend and those that the poor children attends.
- One of the reasons for the discrimination is that the attitudes change is very slow.
- Establishing equality in a democratic society is a continuous struggle and one in which individuals as well as various communities in India need to contribute.
→ Issues of Equality in Other Democracies:
- There are many democratic countries in the world where the issue of inequality exists. India is not the only country where there is inequality.
- In the United States of America, the African-Americans whose ancestors were brought over from Africa to work as slaves, continue to describe their lives today as largely unequal and discriminated.
- A day came when a huge agitation against the unequal ways in which African- Americans were treated and which came to be known as the Civil Rights Movement. It was started by Rosa Parks, an African- American woman who changed the course of American history with one defiant act.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited and banned discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin. It also stated that all schools would be open to African- American children and that they would no longer have to attend separate schools specially set up for them. In spite of this, a majority of African-Americans continue to be among the poorest in the country.
→ Challenge of Democracy:
The struggle for the recognition of all persons as equal and for their dignity should be maintained so that we can think of an equal people society. This issue of equality affects various aspects of our daily lives in democratic India.