NCERT Class 11 Political Science Chapter 6 Equality: Deep Roots of Inequality

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  • What is equality? Why should we be concerned about this moral and political ideal?
  • Does the pursuit of equality involve treating everyone the same way in every condition?
  • How may we pursue equality and minimize inequality in different spheres of life?
  • How do we distinguish between different dimensions of equality — political, economic and social?
  • Also, socialism, Marxism, liberalism and feminism will be discussed
  • Everyone I know believes in a religion. Every religion I know preaches equality. Then why is there inequality in the world?
  • Paradox: Almost everyone accepts the ideal of equality, yet almost everywhere we encounter inequality - unequal wealth, opportunities, work situations, and power.
  • You are able to access a video here and get education – other is not.

Deep Roots of Inequality

Deep Roots of Inequality?
  • Richest 50 individuals in the world have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 40 crore people.
  • Poorest 40 % of the world՚s population receive only 5 % of global income, while the richest 10 % of the world՚s population controls 54 % of global income
  • North America and Western Europe, with 25 % of the world՚s population, owns 86 % of the world՚s industry, and consumes 80 % of the world՚s energy.
  • Risk of dying from pregnancy related causes is 1 to 18 in Nigeria but 1 to 8700 in Canada
  • industrial countries of the first world account for nearly two-thirds of the global emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. They also account for three-quarters of emissions of Sulphur and nitrogen oxide that cause acid rain

Why Equality?

Why Equality?
  • Equality is a powerful moral and political ideal that has inspired and guided human society – implicit in all humans as creation of God
  • equal worth regardless of their color, gender, race, or nationality
  • notions of universal human rights or ‘crimes against humanity’ .
  • struggles against states and social institutions which uphold inequalities of rank
  • 18th century: French revolutionaries used the slogan ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ to revolt against the landed feudal aristocracy and the monarchy
  • 20th century: anti-colonial liberation struggles in Asia and Africa
  • Why women and Dalits are marginalized, slums existing side by side with luxury housing, waste of food as well as starvation
  • Achieve equality, eliminate differences, which differences are acceptable, and which are not, what policies must be taken

What is Equality?

What is Equality?
  • We usually do not feel that giving prime ministers, or army generals, a special official rank and status goes against the notion of equality, provided their privileges are not misused
  • treating people with equal respect need not mean always treating them in an identical way. No society treats all its members in exactly the same way under all conditions
  • Child in slum is denied nutritious food or good education through no fault of his/her own, it may appear unfair to us.
  • When people are treated differently just because they are born in a particular religion or race or caste or gender, we regard it as an unacceptable form of inequality
  • commitment to the ideal of equality does not imply the elimination of all forms of differences - opportunities we enjoy must not be pre-determined by birth or social circumstance
  • Equality of Opportunities - opportunities to develop their skills and talents, and to pursue their goals and ambitions – cricketers. Lawyers, musicians, 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, as education, health care, safe housing, that make for an unequal and unjust society
  • Natural inequalities are those that emerge between people as a result of their different capabilities and talents – difference in characteristics and abilities
  • Socially-produced inequalities which emerge as a consequence of inequalities of opportunity or the exploitation of some groups in a society by others – created by society - value those who perform intellectual work over those who do manual work

Women as Weaker Section of Society

  • Black people in Africa were considered by their colonial masters to be of lesser intelligence, child-like, and better at manual work
  • Differences of power between people and nations rather than based on their inborn characteristics
  • Natural inequalities can be altered with scientific advancement – as Stephen Hawking՚s – wheel chair - socially-produced distinction as a standard by which the laws and policies of a society can be assessed

Dimensions of Equality

Dimensions of Equality
  • Political equality - granting equal citizenship to all the members of the state in democracy - right to vote, freedom of expression, movement and association and freedom of belief; equal opportunities, or for ‘a level playing field’ – remove legal hurdles
  • Social Equality - equality of opportunities - fair and equal chance to compete- remove denial of social goods - adequate health care, the opportunity for good education, adequate nourishment and a minimum wage; women discouraged from getting higher education or inheritance; caste inequalities in terms of graduates from different castes
  • Economic equality – significant differences in wealth, property or income between individuals or classes. Either measure the relative difference between the richest and poorest groups or people below poverty line. Absolute equality of wealth or income has probably never existed in a society
  • Because of the power of the wealthy classes it might prove difficult to reform such a society to make it more open and egalitarian


Feminism is a Political Doctrine
  • Feminism is a political doctrine of equal rights for women and men.
  • Inequality leads to patriarchy - men and women are different by nature and that this difference justifies their unequal positions in society
  • Biological difference b/w men and women and gender plays an important role
  • Women responsible for private and domestic matter and men responsible for public matter
  • All forms of public/private distinction and gender inequalities must be eliminated

Marxism and Liberalism

  • 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
  • It made class of owners wealthy and gave them political power – they can influence policies and create threat to democracy
  • Marxists and socialists feel that economic inequality provides support to other forms of social inequality such as differences of rank or privilege. So important to provide equal opportunities and public control of resources
  • Liberals uphold the principle of competition as the most efficient and fair way of distributing resources and rewards in society. 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 in free and fair conditions is must – for job, admission to school -to regulate educational institutions and entrance exams. liberals do not believe that political, economic and social inequalities are necessarily linked. They maintain that inequalities in each of these spheres should be tackled appropriately. Thus, democracy could help to provide political equality, but it might be necessary to also devise different strategies to deal with social differences and economic inequalities.


  • Minimize existing inequality Distribute resources justly
  • Socialism refers to a set of political ideas that emerged as a response to the inequalities present in, and reproduced by, the industrial capitalist economy. The main concern of Socialism is how to minimise existing inequality and distribute resources justly.
  • Not opposed to market but government regulation, planning and control is important.
  • socialist thinker Ram Manohar Lohia – 5 inequalities - Inequality between man and woman, inequality based on skin colour, caste-based inequality, colonial rule of some countries over others, and, of course, economic inequality- struggle against these five inequalities constituted five revolutions. He included 2 more - revolution for civil liberties against unjust encroachments on private life and revolution for non-violence, for renunciation of weapons in favour of Satyagraha. These were the seven revolutions or Sapta Kranti of socialism by Lohia.

How to Promote Equality?

How to Promote Equality?

Establishing Formal Equality – ending the formal system of inequality and privileges. Poor people were not granted the right to vote in a large number of countries. Women were not allowed to take up many professions. Lower caste was not allowed in certain jobs. - all such restrictions or privileges should be brought to an end. Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Our Constitution also abolishes the practice of Untouchability

Equality – How to Achieve? ?

Treat everyone in an identical manner

Equality – How to Achieve? ?
  • It is relevant to draw a distinction between equality as a guiding principle of state policy and equal rights of individuals. Individuals have a right to equal consideration for admission to educational institutions and public sector employment. But competition should be fair.
  • Needs and circumstances of a first generation learner whose parents and ancestors were illiterate are very different from those who are born into educated families.
  • Members of excluded groups, whether they are dalits, women, or any other category, deserve and need some special help.
  • Many poor children in rural areas or urban slums have little chance of attending schools – high professional course fee and it՚s hard to compete
  • Policies adopted by state – reservation
  • distinction must also be made between treating everyone in an identical manner (promote equality) and treating everyone as equal (differential or special treatment) .
  • In the nineteenth century women struggled for equal rights. They demanded, for instance, the right to vote, the right to receive degrees in colleges and universities
  • Differential treatment is intended and justified only as a means to promoting a just and egalitarian society.

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