People face inequality in different walks of life. It could be at home, school, office, in politics. Therefore, it is important to look at the types of equality to understand its nature. Political equality in India begins with Universal Adult Franchise – Equal right to vote to all India citizens of 18 years of age and above. Economic equality in India means ‘Equal work, equal pay’. Most democracies in the world promise economic equality. Social equality is also important for any democratic system. It implies the state of affairs where everyone has equal respect and status in certain respects. Equality of opportunity means no one shall be excluded from the social activities of society –education, employment or healthcare.
The Indian Constitution seeks equality for all, but in reality caste inequality has been a challenge for Indian democracy. Inequality in education is another challenge. Education is a Basic Human Right. The Constitution guarantees Right to Education to all people, irrespective of race, gender, religion, caste, etc. But majority of poor children, especially girls in rural areas, and children from SCs and STs, are still deprived of basic education. Gender inequalities and gender discrimination in India prevent women from enjoying equal opportunities. In India, inequalities based on religion are another challenge to democracy.
The government has launched several schemes and programmes to make equality a reality. The Midday Meal Scheme is one such scheme. The objective of this scheme is to provide nutrition and encourage education among poor children. Inequalities also exist in other parts of the world. In USA, there is racial discrimination against African-Americans. The Civil Rights Movement was launched to fight for equal rights for the Blacks. Rosa Parks was an African-American who gave momentum to this movement. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.