The name, Law as a means of upholding morality: right to equality, we all
know that equality is the basic human necessity as equality among equals is
needed to balance the social conditions and to live harmoniously with all, but
this project needs to be not only about the right to equality in India, but
about the concept of equality, and how law in the modern times is working to aid
this right, also this needs to be understood that how has the concept evolved
and why has it been so important, what is the history behind it coming to the
light as such an important law, at the end, everything also needs to cover why
this is morally important.
In this project, we would be exploring various things like first going through
the basic question of what is equality?, while exploring the views of various
great thinkers on this matter, it also needs to tell about when we ask for
equality, what are the things we need equality in and what type.
After this we would explore why morally, equality is required in the first
place? After this we would get to know how was the concept of equality
introduced to the Indians and the mystery around it. After that we have covered
the international scenarios of equality and how the difference in those
countries resolved, by giving the examples of multiple countries like south
Africa, America, and France.
Historical Context Of Equality
The idea of equality is one of the core values of the contemporary world's
social and political philosophy. The idea of equality started getting its modern
definition from the French Revolution in 1789 there 'equality' was among the
three mottos 'liberty, equality, and fraternity. With the advent of modernity
equality as an idea gained its currency in the West.
However, outside of the west, these ideas were implicitly getting expressed;
like in India thinkers had a crucial concern for forefront critics of caste
discrimination. Throughout the medieval and modern period, thinkers and
philosophers like Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, Guru Nanak, Jyotiba Roa Phule, and
recent thinkers like Perriyar and B.R Ambedkar have contributed to developing a
discourse of equality in India. B.R Ambedkar sourced the Ideas of Equality from
The concept of the idea of 'equality' started way back in ancient Greece when
the philosophers like Plato and Aristotle devised the initial idea of
'equality'. Plato in his book 'Republic' advocated for the first time about
gender equality and stated that women should be provided the same opportunities
as men and marriages should be controlled by the state. Aristotle mentioned,
"Treat like cases a like". In the later period, Roman Stoics gave the equality
which coincided with the natural rights. So forth Christian clergy had a
perspective of equality which resonated with the biblical teaching that all
human beings on earth are equal as all are children in the eyes of the almighty
Jj. Rousseau was one of the first to give the idea of the equality, for him
all men are equal since they are morally entitled to be treated equally. John Loche found this as the problem of political philosophy or ideology and
ideology. He was the first to coin the idea that all men should be treated
equally in the eyes of the law and that this is a natural right.
Karl Marx said that the bourgeois' concept of equality was unacceptable to him
as the equality of people who enjoy property rights under the capitalist system.
So this equality is given only by the people who already got a stake in the
capitalist system. Real equality can be only achieved after the abolition of
In the 19th century with the rise of liberals, there also arose differences in
the definition of 'equality'.
Leonard Trelawney Hobhouse - and Richard Tawney wrote that the capitalist
property system is not acceptable because this system would lead to private
affluence and public squalor.
In recent times, economist Amartya Kumar Sen focused on the pragmatic problems
that consisted in the modern capitalist system specifically in the third-world
countries and said that there should be larger public spending for the benefit
of the deprived marginal section of the society. Public spending must be in the
respect of public education and health care. And this would be the first leap
toward achieving equality.
In America, legal, moral, and political philosopher John Rawls through his book
'A Theory of Justice' in 1971 led to a pivotal point in the liberal perspective
of equality. His magnum opus attracted the attention of many within the U.S and
outside in the 20th century. His work has a philosophical study of equality and
used both utilitarianism and contract theories selectively to advance a normal
theory of justice. By the 'veil of ignorance,' he conceived their 'original
This original position presupposes the parties have political equality. Also,
the idea is that equality is necessary but liberty must get the priority and for
achieving economic equality progressive taxation is the solution. 
The modern sociologist has opined that there must be some social differentiation
and social stratification to make social structure equal.
Throughout history, different philosophers had different principles and
conceptions of equality.
Equality Of 'What'?
Before coming to the three forms of equality reflected in political, social,
and economic terms it is important to understand the 'Primary goods' of John
Rawls, these primary goods are things that any rational person could reasonably
be expected to want, these are liberty and opportunity; income and wealth.
Primary Goods Are Distributed Per Two Principles Of Justice:
- Liberty principle
- Social and economic inequalities have to be dealt by following;
- Difference Principle based on 'Rawls'
- Equal opportunities for all.
- Equality of welfare:
In this Equality of welfare, people should get equal opportunities for
welfare and opportunities. This welfare is the satisfaction of the
preferences of the people that they have to achieve.
- Equality of resources:
There are various natural and social resources and
people should have access equally to all of these resources.
- Equality of opportunities:
There are certain opportunities and everyone in
the society should have access to these opportunities.
- Equality before law:
The law should treat everyone in the society equal and
should not discriminate its citizens.
There has been evolving idea and principle about what 'equality' is? All unfair
injustices that were inflicted on specific strata of society led to the
awakening of their conscience and they fought for the equal dignity in society.
However, the economic and social exclusion for many hundreds and thousands of
years has made huge disparity between the weaker and the stronger section of
society all around the world.
Whether, that is slavery in the west, Apartheid in
the South Africa or Caste system in India. These ideas and principles of
equality had led human to institute the egalitarian society and law which
protects itself and others members of the society. The Law all around the globe
recognizes individual's dignity and stipulated various statues to protect the
rights and to protect against any kind of discrimination.
Right To Equality In Indian Constitution:
In Indian Constitution the right to equality is enshrined in the "Articles 14 to
18". This is the fundamental right against any discrimination on the ground of
gender, race, ethnicity and caste etc.
These rights are:
- Equality before law - equal protection of law.
- Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex
or place of birth � equal access to shops, hotels, wells, tanks, roads
- Equality of opportunity in public employment 
- Abolition of Untouchability"
- Abolition of Titles 
Right To Equality In Un Charter
The Equality is one of the foundational elements in the United Nation Charter in
"Article 1 (3)": "To achieve international cooperation in solving international
problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in
promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms
for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion,".
Why Is Equality Morally Required?
In the modern world, the importance of equality is emphasized upon quite a lot,
but very less of the emphsisers explain why is equality required? After all we
know that we certainly have aspects that mark a difference . We know that
through natural evolution men are, generally, stronger than women, women are
naturally better strategists and planners, people from certain regions are used
to living in different conditions and adapt to be stronger than people from some
other regions etc. .
If we know all these differences, than why not accept these differences? The
reality is that the generalized line between these differences is very thin and
if strongly marked, it would create unnecessary obstructions for skilled people, for example, if we strongly generalize the idea that asian people are stronger
at Maths than anywhere else.
It would be hard for a Norwegian mathematician
would find it hard to leave his mark of talent, in the same way if we generalize
the idea that whites are smarter people than brown folks, which by the way used
to be a false generalization, the brown people would struggle to gain the
confidence in coming up and proving their calibre or if you generalize that men
are stronger than women then in the society women would be subjected to
unnecessary prejudice regarding strength related jobs.
Equality is a symbolism that is required in the society, not to enforce
ambiguous neutrality or to take away the due credits of certain sets of people,
but it is required to balance out the natural prejudices and bring about
opportunities for people equally is they are capable too.
How Were Indians Introduced To The Concept Of Equality?
Many of the modern day thinkers like to believe that we Indians were introduced
to the concept of equality by European texts, inconsiderate of the fact that
those colonists were the very people who have treated black, brown and yellow
people in the most unequal way ever in history.
The conception of ideas of
equality dates centuries back in India as evident in the ancient texts like
multiple dharmasutras and commentaries which mentioned the concept of equality
to a certain extent and also state that all are equal in the eyes of Dharma and
the king and Brahmins were the carriers of Dharma. Yes, there were certain
discrepancies in those ideas of equality, but those were indeed necessary at
those times for the proper regulation of the society and these texts never
mentioned that the king or Brahmins were above the laws of God.
Yes there was
certainly a period in the Indian society where these classifications were cruded
in their form because of sabotage of culture by foreign invaders and with time
the interpretation of those texts went in a wrong direction and these system
formed the shape of a toxic society where there was a concept of higher castes
and lower castes and this gave rise to a new stem of inequality.
Even this stem
was not cut by the contemporary European thinkers but this line was blurred by
the combined struggle by the nation against foreign forces, and this
amalgamation of manpower and people from varied backgrounds was seen by the land
multiple times in the last 1000 years against foreign invaders.
been seen when the Bheels and Rajputs of Mewar came together to fight the
Islamic invaders, this was evident when the Holkars and local Nomadic tribes of
Indore came together to fight the Portuguese intrusion, and this was best seen
when Gandhiji gave the call for 'Sampoorn Swaraj' and Brahmins, Rajputs,
Harijans, and people from all walks of lives irrespective of caste, creed,
gender, age came together to liberate the nation once and for all from the
International Scenario Of Equality In Different Communities
First Battle For Equality: French Revolution"Equality is the most natural of things, yet the most unreal", this was Voltaire
on the philosophy of equality. Equality is fundamental to the social structure
and yet achieving true equality has been a struggle at various points in
In France the concept of equality (along with fraternity and liberty) was born
out of struggle, during the French Revolution. All men are equal in the eyes of
God and no one shall be denied their natural rights, this came up as an attempt
to limit down the excessive powers of monarchy and the clergy. Equality in the
French revolution was aimed to bridge class gaps and create a society based on
principles laid down in "Declaration of Rights of Man 1789".
Article 1 of the 1789 Declaration states:
"Men are born and remain free and
equal in rights. Social distinctions can have no other basis than common
utility" This formed the basis of the French Revolution, and it was the genesis
of the modern concept and understanding of equality. Impact of the French
Revolution and the birth of ethos of equality, had profound impact in shaping
the world, politics, ideas of religion and social structure.
Racial Equality: Apartheid What is apartheid?
From 1948 through the beginning of the 1990s, South Africa and South West Africa
(now Namibia) were home to the apartheid system, which institutionalised racial
segregation. It was defined by a boss-hood or boss-ship-based authoritarian
political culture known as baasskap (boss-hood or boss-ship), which made sure
that the country's majority white population ruled politics, society, and the
economy of South Africa.
The highest status was granted to white residents under
this system of social stratification, subsequently it was given to Indians and
Colored people, then black Africans. It was further divided into two types:
petty apartheid, which involved racial segregation at social gatherings and in
public spaces, and grand apartheid, which controlled access to housing and jobs.
How was it abolished?
Under the leadership of the South African president F.W. de Klerk, apartheid was
repealed in the early 1990s, and a new constitution that gave blacks and other
racial groups more rights was approved in 1993. A black majority government lead
by well-known anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela of the African National
Congress party was established in 1994 after the all-race national elections.
Even while these changes signalled the end of officially sanctioned apartheid,
its social and economic impacts are still very much present in South African
Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president in April 1994 at the
first democratic elections held there. Even though there was still much to be
done to improve the lives of all South Africans, the harsh apartheid rule
appeared to be magically coming to an end in peace.
Many of those initial promises are still unfulfilled today. The ANC faces harsh
criticism for South Africa's ongoing poverty, inequality, violence, health
crises, and corruption after 25 years in power.
The new president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has a challenging list of
goals to achieve as he attempts to modernise the country: spur economic growth,
reduce debt, establish a working, law-based government, and maintain the ANC
even as it appears to be disintegrating. Therefore, still the condition of South
Africa has not improved that much.
Slavery American Slavery
The legal institution of human chattel slavery, which included the enslavement
of largely Africans and African Americans, was widespread in the United States
of America from the time of its foundation in 1776 until 1865, primarily in the
South. Slavery evolved during the time the Europeans colonised the Americas. The
legal system viewed an enslaved person as property that might be bought, sold,
or given away. Slavery persisted in about half of US states until it was
abolished. In the decades that followed the end of Reconstruction, segregation,
sharecropping, and convict leasing served many of the economic and social
purposes of slavery.
How was it abolished?
Chattel slavery was abolished in America as a result of the American Civil War,
which started in 1861. On June 22, 1865, the civil war was declared over, and in
all of the Southern states that had not yet released the slaves, the
Emancipation Proclamation came into effect. For a few months, slavery was still
in effect in other places. On June 19, 1865, federal forces came in Galveston,
Texas, to carry out the emancipation.
The commemoration of that event, Juneteenth National Independence Day, has been declared a national holiday in
2021.The Senate approved the Thirteenth Amendment in April 1864, and the House
of Representatives did the same in January 1865, making slavery illegal in all
but criminal punishment. The ratification of the amendment by three-fourths of
the states, which Georgia did on December 6, 1865, was necessary for it to go
Even today African Americans in America faces a lot of discrimination in every
fronts of there life be it a job opportunity, health facilities, welfare schemes
etc. Every day there are cases of police officers either mistreating or killing
African Americans on the slightest of disagreements. All of this spurred the
movement which recently took place that is "BLACK LIVES MATTERS".
Matter is a movement that draws attention to the racism, prejudice, and racial
inequity that black people face. When its supporters congregate, they do so
mostly to denounce instances of racialized violence and police brutality against
black people. It began after the murders of several people, including George
Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Pamela Turner etc.
movement and the groups that support it frequently push for a number of
legislative reforms that are thought to be important for black emancipation. But
now the time is changing and slowly- slowly we can see the positive changes for
e.g., the 49th Vice President of USA Mrs. Kamala Devi Harris became the first
African American and first Asian American vice president of USA.
- Larry Alexander and Maimon Schwarzschild, 'Liberalism, Neutrality, and Equality of Welfare vs. Equality of Resources' (1987) 16 Philosophy & Public Affairs 85 accessed 21 September 2022.
- NCERT, 2018. Indian constitution at work. New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training, pp.20-40.
- United Nations, 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' (United Nations) accessed 10 October 2022.
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