Equality in India

Topics: Discrimination, India, Caste Pages: 88 (33154 words) Published: August 9, 2010
Equality in India
Equality in India is a relatively recent concept as enshrined in our Constitution. The Right to Equality is a Fundamental Right, and our Constitution gives all Indians the right to practice it, irrespective of caste, creed, economic status, race or gender. Ancient Indian civilization was steeped in inequalities, mostly of caste. With the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, the caste system received a jolt, as the common man started questioning its very basis. Later, Christianity and Islam too, spoke of the equality of all men in the eyes of God. The Bhakti movement in medieval India borrowed from these concepts and the majority of Indians became familiar with the concept of equality. With India achieving independence in 1947, equality became a matter of State authority. The framers of the Constitution made sure that future governments should be able to apply its principles to the social fabric of the nation. This has resulted in all Indians being provided with equal opportunities to excel. As a result, our nation is developing and modernizing at a fast pace. Implementation of the principle of equality

In the past 63 years, we have taken solid measures in ensuring equality of all Indians as laid down by law. Article 14 guarantees equality before law as well as equal protection of the law to all persons within the territory of India. Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them. Article 16 guarantees equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and prevents the State from discriminating against anyone in matters of employment on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, place of residence or any of them. The policy of reservation in educational institutions and jobs for scheduled castes, tribes and other backward castes has been implemented to eliminate caste-based inequalities in our society. However, this criterion applies only to economic disparities and has not, in the long run, been able to remove cultural inequalities. Article 17 and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 makes it a punishable offence to practice untouchability. Article 18 prohibits the State from conferring any titles other than military or academic distinctions on citizens and they cannot accept titles from a foreign state. Thus, aristocratic titles and titles of nobility conferred by the British have been abolished and all Indians have been made equal. The year 1990-1991 was declared as the "Year of Social Justice" in the memory of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. The Government of India provides free textbooks to students belonging to scheduled castes and tribes, pursuing medicine and engineering courses. During 2002-2003, a sum of Rs. 4.77 crore (47.7 million) was released for this purpose. The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 empowers government to fix minimum wages for people working across the economic spectrum. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 provides for the better protection of consumers. The Act is intended to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the consumers' grievances. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 provides for equal pay for equal work for both men and women. The Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (Universal Rural Employment Programme) was launched in 2001 to attain the objective of providing gainful employment for the rural poor. The programme was implemented through the Panchayati Raj institutions. One-third of the total number of Panchayati Raj seats have been reserved for women in Panchayats at every level; and in the case of Bihar, half the seats have been reserved for women. [112] The implementation of a uniform civil code for all citizens, however, has not been achieved. This has provoked widespread outrage from as jurists, critics and politicians. They allege that the fundamental right of equality for all citizens irrespective of religion or gender has been discarded to preserve the...
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