In modern times no state can be called civilized and legitimate if it does not guarantee the right to equality to all its citizens. There can absolutely be no space for any man-made inequality  in the behavior of a modern democratic state toward its citizens. 

Aware of the centrality of equality in a truly democratic state , the founding fathers of independent India rightly agreed that in our Republic political equality must be accompanied by social and economic equality as well . In an address to the Aligarh Muslim University way back in January 1948, our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru defined the  “basic objective” of our nation as one of building it on   “high ideals and  noble endeavors where there is equality of opportunity for all.”

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Regrettably, our post-colonial nation is still far off the objective our founding fathers had determined for it. According to authentic studies, certain new privileged groups - within the government and as well as  the private sector - have emerged. They manipulate the system to get preferential treatment in availing of opportunities in almost every walk of life. They have got their own income increased astronomically over the years. The rich have become richer in the country. Today the top one per cent of them garners as much as 73 per cent of our total generated national wealth.


In contrast , the have-nots within all our social groups --- particularly, women , peasants, workers, scheduled castes/tribes and area-specific religious minorities   --- have continued to suffer . India today ranks 100th in a world hunger  list of  119 nations . Over  68 per cent  of our population are living in rural areas. They hardly have opportunities for proper education, health care, environment and employment. 

We have fared very  poorly on the front of gender equality. India today is  ranked 132nd among 187 countries in the Gender Inequality Index. Cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women are still common across the country. Reported crimes against women have been continuously rising since 2009. A total of 244,270 incidents of crimes against women, including nearly 25,000 cases of rape, were reported in 2012 alone. There has been  widespread under-reporting due to issues of security, social stigma and fear of reprisals. An estimated 30.53 per cent of women experience sexual violence. Just one per cent out of them report it to the police. 

Besides, the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) still continues in parts of India . This practice is carried out by certain religious communities, such as the Dawoodi Bohra community, in the country . FGM is done within the family. Usually, women are afraid to file FIRs against this crime.  Since there is no law against this evil in India , people keep coming from countries where FGM is illegal and getting it done herein.

Our record in treating other genders, too, is very poor. Ours is age of science and reason. There  is a near consensus across the civilized  world community that the sexual orientation of each individual needs to  be protected. What is natural to one may not be so to another.  However, some of our feudal-colonial laws continue to exist treating lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-genders (LGBT) highly unfairly.

I wonder when our Government would wake up to ensure that the right to equality, guaranteed in our Constitution, prevails in its true sense. The Government must discard all feudal-colonial policies that perpetuate or cause any form of inequality among its citizens.  All our laws today must be scientific, people-friendly and just . The denial of equality to any citizen is purely undemocratic. The Government must ensure that our rational laws prevail over any social prejudices, feudal structures and patriarchal attitudes that still hinder the growth of equality in the country.

We the citizens of India must exert our democratic right to see to it that no authority drifts away from focusing on its constitutional objective of fostering equality among citizens . In the nineteenth century legendary American President Abraham Lincoln rightly counseled the humanity: "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."

A century later, leading architect of our own Constitution B R Ambedkar stressed we must defend and advance our Constitution and its values. He said : " The working of the Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of state such as the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The factors on which the working of those organs of the state depends are the people… "


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