Class 11 POLITICAL THEORY Chapter 3 Equality
NCERT Notes for Class 11 POLITICAL THEORY chapter 3 Equality, (Political Science) exam are Students are taught thru NCERT books in some of state board and CBSE Schools. As the chapter involves an end, there is an exercise provided to assist students prepare for evaluation. Students need to clear up those exercises very well because the questions with inside the very last asked from those.
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NCERT Notes for Class 11 POLITICAL THEORY chapter 3 Equality
NCERT Notes for Class 11 POLITICAL THEORY chapter 3 Equality
WHY DOES EQUALITY MATTER?
- Equality is a powerful moral and political ideal that has inspired and guided human society for many centuries.
- As a political ideal the concept of equality invokes the idea that all human beings have equal worth regardless of their color, gender, race, or nationality.
- It maintains that human beings deserve equal consideration and respect because of their common humanity.
- In the modern period, the equality of all human beings has been used as a rallying slogan in the struggle against states and social institutions which upholds inequalities of rank, wealth status, or privilege, among people.
- Today, equality is a widely accepted ideal that is embodied in the constitutions and laws of many countries.
- Yet, it is inequality rather than equality that is most visible around us in the world as well as within our own society. In our country, we can see slums existing side by side with luxury housing.
- Thus we face a paradox: Almost everyone accepts the ideal of equality, yet almost everywhere we encounter inequality.
- We live in a complex world of unequal wealth, opportunities, work situations, and power.
WHAT IS EQUALITY?
The term equality means all human beings have equal right without regarding their colour, gender, race, language or nationality.
- Here special preference should be abolished.
- The distinction between human beings on grounds of race and colour appears to be the most unacceptable.
- Equality tells us that all human beings should be entitled to the same respect and consideration because of their common humanity.
- No society treats all its members exactly the same way under all conditions.
- The smooth functioning of society requires the division of work and functions and people often enjoy different statuses and rewards on account of it.
- At times these differences of treatment may appear acceptable or even necessary. for instance, we usually do not feel that giving prime ministers, or army generals, special official rank and status goes against the notion of equality, provided their privileges are not misused.
- But some other kinds of inequalities may seem unjust. for instance, if a child born in a slum is denied nutritious food or good education through no fault of his\her own, it may appear unjust to us.
Which distinctions and differences are acceptable?
- When people are treated differently just because they are born in a particular religion or race or caste or gender, we regard it as n unacceptable form of inequality.
- But human beings pursue different ambitions and goals and not all may be equally successful.
- So long as they are able to develop the best in themselves we would not feel that equality has been undermined.
- Commitment to the ideal of equality does not imply the elimination of all forms of differences.
- It merely suggests that the treatment we receive and the opportunities we enjoy must not be pre-determined by birth or social circumstance.
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
- It means that every human beings have the same rights and opportunities to develop their skills and talents and to attain their goals and ambitions.
- This means that in a society people may differ with regard to their choices and preferences.
- People may have different talents and skills which results in some being more successful in their chosen careers than others.
- It is not the lack of equality of status or wealth or privilege that is significant but the inequalities in people’s access to such basic goods, such as education, health care, and safe housing, that make for an unequal and unjust society.
ABSOLUTE (NATURAL) EQUALITY
- It is an impossible concept because all men are physically and mentally unequal.
- Everyone’s attitude, behaviour and capabilities are different to each other so the concept, of absolute equality, is an impossibility.
NATURAL AND SOCIAL INEQUALITIES
- Natural inequalities are those that emerge between people as a result of their different capabilities and talents.
- These kind of inequalities are different from socially-produced inequalities which emerge as a consequences of inequalities of opportunities or the exploitation of some group in a society by others.
- Natural inequalities are considered to be the result of different chracteristics and abilities with which people are born.
- Social inequalities on the other hand are those created by society.
- Certain societies may, for example, value those who perform intellectual work over those who do manual work and reward them differently.
- They may treat different people of different races, colours, gender, or caste.
- Differences of this kind reflect the values of a society and some of these may certainly appear to us to be unjust.
- This distinction is sometimes useful in helping us to distinguish between acceptable and unfair inequalities in society but it is not always clear or self-evident. For instance, when certain inequalities in the treatment of people have existed over a long period of time they may appear to us as justifiable because they are based on inequalities, that is, characteristics that people are born with and cannot change easily.
- For example, women were long described as ‘the weaker sex’, considered timid and of lesser intelligence than men, needing special protection. Therefore, it was felt that denying women equal rights could be justified.
- Another problem which arises with the idea of natural differences is that some differences which could be considered natural need no longer be seen as unalterable.
- For example, advances in medical science and technology have helped many disabled people to function effectively in society.
- It would seem unjust to most people today if disabled people are denied necessary help to overcome the effect of their disability or a fair reward for their work on he grounds that they are naturally less capable.
- All these complexities, it would use the natural/socially-produced distinction as a standard by which the laws and policies of a society can be assessed.
TYPES OF EQUALITY
- While identifying different kinds of inequalities that exist in society, various thinkers and ideologies have highlighted three main dimensions of equality namely:-
- Political equality
- Social equality
- Economic equality
- It means granting equal citizenship to all the members of the state.
- Equal citizenship brings with it certain basic rights such as the right to vote, freedom of expression, movement and association and freedom of belief.
- They are legal rights, guaranteed by the constitution and laws.
- Considerable inequalities can exist even in countries which grant equal rights to all citizens.
- These inequalities are often the result of differences in the resources and opportunities which are available to citizens in the social and economic spheres.
- For this reason, demand is often made for equal opportunities, or for a level playing field’.
- Political and legal equality by itself may not be sufficient to build a just and egalitarian society.
- It means to ensure equal status for everyone in society.
- political equality or equality before the law is an important first step in the pursuit of equality but it often needs to be supplemented by equality of opportunities.
- Political equality is necessary to remove any legal hurdles which might exclude people from a voice in government and deny them access to available social goods.
- The pursuit of equality requires that people belonging to different groups and communities also have a fair and equal chance to compete for those goods and opportunities.
- For this, it is necessary to minimise the effect of social and economic inequalities and guarantee certain minimum conditions of life to all the members of society- adequate health care, the opportunity for good education, adequate nourishment and a minimum wage, among other things.
- Where equality of opportunity does not exist a huge pool of potential talent tends to be wasted in society.
- In India, a special problem regarding equal opportunities comes not just from a lack of facilities but from some of the customs which may prevail in different parts of the country, or among different groups.
- Women, for instance, may not enjoy equal rights of inheritance in some groups, or there may be social prohibitions regarding their taking part in certain kinds of activities, or they may even be discouraged from obtaining higher education.
- The state has a significant role in such matters. It should make policies to prevent discrimination or harassment of women in public places or employment, to provide incentives to open up education or certain professions to women and other such measures.
- It means equitable enjoyment of economic resources by all individuals in the state.
- E.g. Equal pay for equal work, and the right to work.
- Economic inequality exists in a society if there are significant differences in wealth, property, or income between individuals or classes.
- One way of measuring the degree of economic inequality in society would be to measure the relative difference between the richest and protest groups.
- Another way could be to estimate the number of people who live below the poverty line.
- Absolute equality of wealth or income has probably never existed in society.
- With equal opportunities, inequalities may continue to exist between individuals but there is the possibility of improving one’s position in society with sufficient effort.
- Inequalities which remain untouched over generations are more dangerous for society.
- If in a society certain classes of people have enjoyed considerable wealth, and the power which goes with it, over generations, the society would become divided between those classes and others who have remained poor over generations.
- Over time such class differences can give rise to resentment and violence. Because of the power of the wealthy classes, it might prove difficult to reform such a society to make it more open and egalitarian.
- Marxism and liberalism are two important political ideologies of our times.
- Marx was an important nineteenth-century thinker who argued that the root cause of entrenched inequality was private ownership of important economic resources such as oil, or land, or forests, as well as other forms of property.
- He pointed out that such private ownership did not only make the class of owners wealthy, it also gave them political power. Such power enables them to influence state policies and laws and this could prove a threat to democratic government.
- Marxists and socialists feel that economic inequality provides support to other forms of social inequality such as differences of rank or privilege. Therefore, to tackle inequality in society we need to go beyond providing equal opportunities and try and ensure public control over essential resources and forms of property.
- Liberals uphold the principle of competition as the most efficient and fair way of distributing resources and rewards in society.
- They believe that while states may have to intervene to try and ensure a minimum standard of living and equal opportunities for all, this cannot by itself bring equality and justice to society.
- Competition between people in free and fair conditions is the 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 just and efficient way of selecting candidates for jobs or admission to educational institutions.
Unlike socialists, liberals do not believe that political, economic discrimination, and social inequalities are necessarily linked. They maintain that inequalities in each of these spheres should be tackled appropriately.
How can we promote Equality?
- We can achieve equality in three different ways, establishing formal equality, equality through different treatment, and affirmative action.
- We also need to consider if the use of affirmative action is justified for purpose of bringing about equality.
Establishment Formal Equality
- We can achieve equality by ending the formal system of inequality and privileges.
- Social, economic, and political inequalities all over the world have been protected by customs and legal systems that prohibited some sections of society from enjoying certain kinds of opportunities and rewards.
- Poor people were not granted the right to vote in a large number of countries.
- Attainment of equality requires that all such restrictions or privileges should be brought to an end. This is what our Constitution does.
- The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Our Constitution also abolishes the practice of untouchability.
- Most modern constitutions and democratic governments have formally accepted the principle of equality and incorporated it as identical treatment by law to all citizens without any regard to their caste, race, religion or gender.
Equality through Different Treatment
- It is necessary to treat people differently in order to ensure that they can enjoy equal rights.
- For example, disabled people may justifiably demand special ramps in public spaces so that they get an equal chance to enter public buildings.
- Some countries have used policies of affirmative action to enhance equality of opportunity. In our country, we have relied on the policy of reservations.
- Inequalities are sometimes deeply rooted in our system.
- Therefore to minimize and eliminate all such social evils. It is necessary to have some positive measures.
- Most of the affirmative activities are aimed at correcting the cumulative effect of past inequalities.
- Affirmative action can however take many forms, from preferential spending facilities for disadvantaged communities, scholarships and hostel facilities for the backward class, Provide reservations in the educational institution.
In our country, we have adopted a policy of quotas or reserved seats in education and jobs to provide equality of opportunity to deprived groups, and this has been the subject of considerable debate and disagreement.
communities who have suffered in the past and been denied equal opportunities cannot Immediately compete with others on equal terms. Therefore, in the interest of creating an egalitarian and just society, they need to be given special protection and help.
Special assistance in the form of affirmative action is expected to be equality but be a temporary or time-bound measure.
Although policies of affirmative action are supported for making the kinds of policies society more equal, many theorists argue against them. They question whether treating people differently can ever lead to greater equality.
Critics of positive discrimination contend that any provision of reservations or quotas for the deprived in admissions for higher education or jobs is unfair as it arbitrarily denies other sections of society their right to equal treatment.
In the context of this debate. It is relevant to draw a distinction between equality as a guiding principle of state policy and equal rights of individuals.
Individuals have the right to equal consideration for admission to educational institutions and public sector employment.
Members of excluded groups, whether they are Dalit, women, or any other category, deserve and need some special help. To provide this, the state must devise social policies which would help to make such people equal and give them a fair chance to compete with others.
In the spheres of education and health care India has done far less for its deprived population than what is due.
Social and economic inequalities of this kind hinder the pursuit of equal opportunities.
The policies that we choose would have to be justified in terms of their success in making society more egalitarian and fair to all.
On the issue of equality, a distinction must also be made between treating everyone in an identical manner and treating everyone as equal.
Differential or special treatment may be considered to realize the goal of equality but it requires justification and careful reflection.
Differential treatment for different communities was part and parcel of the caste system and practices like apartheid, liberals are usually very wary of deviations from the norms of identical treatment.
Many of these issues relating to the pursuit of equality have been raised by the women’s movement
In the 19th century, women struggled for equal rights. They demanded, for instance, the right to vote, the right to receive degrees in colleges and universities, and the right to work- that is, the same rights as the men in their society.
As they entered the job market they realized that women required special facilities in order to exercise these rights.
Differential treatment is essential to ensure that a set of people can enjoy the same rights as the rest of society.
Differential treatment is intended and justified only as a means to promote a just and egalitarian society.