Struggle for Equality
Equality is a principle recognized by the Indian Constitution. It states that all Indians are equal before the law and there should not be any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, sex or financial status.
All adults have the right to vote without any bias and this is a powerful tool they can use to choose/replace their representatives. But in reality people are treated unequally on the bases of sex, caste, etc. There are ample examples in history where people have come together to protest the inequality they are facing.
The following have an adverse impact on the poor people:
Privatisation of hospitals and neglect of government hospitals: Because of privatisation, and bad condition of government hospitals, poor people do not have access to good health services.
High demand for branded goods: The small sellers who sell loose items and non-branded goods are not able to compete with those selling branded goods because they cannot afford the costs involved in branding i.e. packaging, advertising, etc.
Dependence on powerful people for money: Due to lack of money, small farmers are dependent on local traders for money for buying agricultural inputs as well as for family exigencies. They also have to yield to the irrational demands and conditions of the traders. Similarly, the maid servants (due to their poverty), have to bear insults and ill-treatment by their employers.
Religion Based Inequality
Some people are not willing to lease out their apartment to people of a particular religion in spite of their ability to pay rent, or employ people from a particular religion.
Recently, there was news about a Muslim youth being denied the job because of his religion. The youth was suitably qualified and had applied for an opening in a jewellery firm. But he got an email which mentioned that the company only hired non-Muslim candidates.
Caste Based Inequality
The Dalit community is always victimised and oppressed. Shri Om Prakash Valmiki, a Dalit writer has elaborated this in his autobiography Joothan. In this he has mentioned that he was forced by his teachers to sweep his school yard just because he was a Dalit boy.
Harijan, a Hindi word which translates to ("Child of Hari/Vishnu") is a term popularized by Indian revolutionary leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi for referring to Dalits, traditionally considered to be untouchable.
Gender Based Inequality
In one of the earlier chapters we have read about how the work done by women is devalued. It is not given any recognition and they are also paid less than their male counterparts. The discrimination is because of the social and cultural background we are brought up in.
Linkages between the grounds of inequality
There is a strong interrelationship between the bases of discrimination and inequality. For example, issues of poverty, lack of dignity and respect for some communities are not independent issues. They exist together in such a manner that it is very difficult to identify where one aspect of inequality ends and another starts. For example, the dropping out of school of the Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim girls is a combined outcome of poverty, social discrimination and lack of good schooling facilities. This is an all-in-one example of inequality i.e. it shows the inequality on the basis of financial status, caste, religion and gender.
Struggles for Equality
There are some renowned figures in every community, village, city or country that have stood up against inequality and discrimination. They have fought against the discrimination which they either faced or witnessed as onlooker.
Such renowned people are also famous and respected for the fact that they treat everybody with respect and dignity. They are hence trusted and people look forward to them as problem solvers when any issue arises in the community. Some people become popular because they took the initiative to fight inequality and have the support of large number of people who have come together to fight the inequality.
In India we have many instances of people coming together and protesting an ongoing discriminatory practice.
- In the chapter on Women change the world we have read about the women's movement which was intended to create awareness and solve the issues of inequality faced by women.
- Many such examples exist regarding fight against injustice by groups of beedi workers, fisherfolk, agricultural labourers, slum dwellers etc.
- Forming of cooperatives is also a method of coming together for preventing exploitation and getting a good bargain in a transaction.
- Another such example is the formation of Tawa Matsya Sangh (discussed on next page) to fight an issue.