On Equality: NCERT 7th CBSE Social Studies Civics Chapter 01
Question: What are the key elements of a democracy?
- The key elements of a democratic government are people’s participation, the resolution of conflict and equality and justice.
- Equality is the main feature of democracy. It influences its functioning.
Question: What are the main aspects of Kanta’s story?
Answer: The story tells us about two different aspects of status of people in our country. On the election day Kanta and Sujata along stood in the queue for voting. All others including Kanta’s sahib also stood in the same queue. This made them feel like an equal citizen.
Kanta’s daughter was not well but she had to finish her daily work and take advance before she could take her to the doctor. Even there she had to stand in queue in government hospital to wait for her turn. She realized that, line had only poor people like her. If her employer had to go to doctor they can afford a private doctor.
Question: Does Kanta has enough reason to doubt the equality level of citizens?
- Yes, Kanta has enough reasons to doubt whether she is really equal. Reasons:
- She cannot skip work even when her daughter is ill.
- She does not have enough money to take her daughter to doctor.
- She has to stand in line at a government hospital for her turn to show her daughter to the doctor.
Equal Right to Vote
Question: Who is allowed to vote in India?
Answer: In a democratic country, like India, all adults aged 18 years or above irrespective of their religion, education, caste, rich or poor are allowed to vote.
Question: What is universal adult franchise? What is the basis of it?
- Voting right to all adults is called universal adult franchise.
- It is an essential aspect of all democracies.
- The idea of universal adult franchise is based on the idea of equality because it states that every adult in a country, irrespective of their wealth and the communities, he / she belongs to, has one vote.
Question: Why is Kanta happy?
Answer: Kanta is happy and excited to vote because this makes her equal to others. Everyone has one vote.
Question: With the advancing of the day Kanta becomes less certain about what equality really means. What is it that makes Kanta unsure?
- Kanta lives in a slum and has a drain behind her house.
- Her daughter is sick but she cannot skip day’s work because she needs to borrow money from her employers to take her child to the doctor.
- Her job as a domestic help tires her out.
- She ends her day by again standing in a long line. This line is in front of the government hospital.
- It is unlike the one in the morning because most of the people standing in it are poor.
Other Kinds of Equality
Question: Are all the people who have voting rights really equal?
Answer: People like Kanta have the voting rights but their daily living conditions are far from equal. They experience inequality in different ways.
Question: What is one of common form of inequality in India?
Answer: Common form of Inequality in India:
One of the most common forms of inequality in India is the caste system.
- In rural India, caste identity is something that is experienced from the young age.
- In urban India, people no longer believe in caste.
- Matrimonial shown from a leading English newspaper reveal that the issue of caste continues to be in the minds of highly educated urban Indians.
Question: What is Dalit?
- Dalit is a term that the so-called lower castes use to address themselves.
- Dalit means ‘broken’.
- By using this word, lower castes point to how they were and continue to be seriously discriminated against.
Question: Briefly write about the unequal treatment that Omprakash Valmiki had to face in his early years.
Answer: Omprakash Valmiki in his autobiography, Joothan, wrote about his experience. During his schooling days he had to sit on the floor outside the class. In class IV he had to sweep the school and a huge playground.
He became a spectacle for everyone was watching him. He was covered with dust and was not even allowed to drink water. He was made to do this for few days until one day his father by chance saw him. His father confronted the teacher and told them that one day Omprakash would study right there and many more would follow him.
Question: What kind of discrimination was faced by the Ansari family?
Answer: It is an incident that took place in a large city in India. Ansari family wanted to rent an apartment. They approached a property dealer for help. The property dealer knew about quite a few places. Ansaris liked the first apartment shown to them.
After knowing their names landlady made an excuse that she could rent the apartment to a non-vegetarian since all the other residents are vegetarian. This surprised the Ansaris as well as the property dealer because they could smell fish being cooked in next house.
This happened with them at other places as well. They were given the suggestion that they should change their name to get an apartment. The Ansaris were not willing to do this. It took them a month to find an apartment on rent.
Question: What are the basis on which we are treated unequally?
- Caste, religion, class background whether we are male or female – are often the things that determine why we are treated unequally.
- Omprakash Valmiki and the Ansaris are being treated unequally on the basis of differences of caste and religion.
Question: When persons are treated unequally, their dignity is violated. How?
- When persons are treated unequally their dignity is violated because they feel humiliated.
- The dignity of both Omprakash Valmiki and the Ansaris was violated because of the way in which they were treated.
- By picking on him and making him sweep the school, because of his caste, Omprakash Valmiki’s schoolmates and teachers badly hurt his dignity and made him feel as if he was less than equal to all other students in the school.
- Being a child Omprakash Valmiki could do very little about the situation that he was in. It was his father who felt angry by this unequal treatment. He confronted the teachers.
- The Ansaris’ dignity was also hurt when persons refused to lease their apartments to them.
- The suggestion of the property dealer to change their name also violated their dignity or self-respect. Hence, they refused this suggestion.
- Omprakash and the Ansaris do not deserve to be treated like this. They deserve the same respect and dignity as others.
Equality in Indian Democracy
Question: What is the position of equality in India, a democratic country?
- The Indian Constitution recognizes every person as equal.
- This means that every person in the country, both male and female from all castes, religions, tribes, educational and economic backgrounds is equal.
- Inequality still exists. But at least, in democratic India, the principle of the equality of all. persons is recognized.
- Earlier no law existed to protect people from discrimination and, ill-treatment.
- Now there are several laws that work to see that people are treated with dignity and as equals.
Question: What are the provisions in the Constitution of India in respect of recognition of equality?
Answer: The recognition of equality includes some of the following provisions in the constitution:
- Every person is equal before the law. This means that every person from the
President of the country to a domestic worker has to obey the same laws.
- No person can be discriminated against on the basis of their religion, race, caste, place of birth, or gender.
- Every person has access to all public places including playgrounds, hotels, shops and markets. All persons can use wells, roads and bathing ghats.
- Untouchability has been abolished.
Question: Describe the two ways in which government has tried to implement the equality.
- The two ways in which the government has tried to implement the equality that is guaranteed in the constitution are:
1. Through laws.
2. Through government programmes or schemes to help disadvantaged communities.
- There are several laws in India that protect every person’s right to be treated equally.
- The government has also set up several schemes to improve the lives of immunities and individuals who have been treated unequally for several centuries.
- The schemes ensure greater opportunity for people who have not had this in the past.
Question: What is the most important step the government has taken to end inequality?
Answer: One of the steps taken by the government is the midday meal scheme.
- This refers to the programme introduced in all government elementary schools. It provides children with cooked lunch.
- Tamil Nadu was the first state in India to introduce this scheme.
- In 2001, the Supreme Court asked all state governments to begin this programme in their schools within six months.
- This programme has many positive effects which include the fact that more poor children have begun enrolling and regularly attending school.
- This programme has also helped reduce caste prejudices because both lower and upper caste children in the school eat this meal together.
- In a few places, Dalit women have been employed to cook the meal.
- The mid-day meal programme also helps reduce the hunger of poor students who often come to school and cannot concentrate because their stomachs are empty.
Question: How has the mid day meal programme improved the attendance level in schools?
Answer: The children would go back home for lunch and would nor report back. With mid day meal this has changed. Now even the mothers do not have to interrupt their work to feed children.
Question: Describe the areas in which Dalit children are discriminated against.
- The midday meal programme has helped increase the enrollment and attendance of poor children in school yet there continues to be big differences in this country between schools that the rich attend and those that the poor attend.
- Even today there are several schools in the country in which Dalit children like Omprakash Valmiki are discriminated against and treated unequally.
- These children are forced into unequal situations in which their dignity is not respected. This is because people do not think them as equal even though the law requires it.
Question: What is one of the main reasons which is responsible for continuance of discrimination?
Answer: One of the main reasons for continuance of discrimination is that attitudes change very slowly.
- Persons are aware that discrimination is against the law. Still they continue to treat people unequally on the basis of their caste, religion, disability, economic status and sex.
- It is only when people begin to believe that no one is inferior and that every person deserves to be treated with dignity, that attitudes change.
- Establishing equality in a democratic society is a continuous struggle.
- Persons as well as various communities in India contribute to remove inequalities.
Issues of Equality in Other Democracies
Question: Account for issues of equality in other democracies.
Answer: Issues of Equality in Other Democracies:
India is not the only democratic country in which there is inequality and in which the struggle for equality continues to exist.
In most democratic countries around the world the issue of equality continues to be the key issue around which communities struggle.
- In USA the African-Americans brought as slaves from Africa continue to be largely unequal.
- This is despite a movement in the late 1950s to push for equal rights for African-Americans.
- Prior to this, African-Americans were treated extremely unequally in the United States. They were denied equality through law.
Question: Describe the incident of a day with Rosa Parks. What did the incident lead to?
- Rosa Parks was an African-American woman.
- Tired from a long day at work she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man on December 1, 1955.
- Her refusal started a huge agitation against the unequal ways in which African-Americans were treated. This came, later on, to be known as the Civil Rights Movement.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
- It also stated that all schools would be open to African-American children and that they would no longer have to attend separate schools specially set up for them.
- Despite this, a majority of African-Americans continue to be among the poorest in the country.
- Most African-American children can only afford to attend government schools that have fewer facilities and poorly qualified teachers in comparison to white students who either go to private schools or live in areas where the government schools are highly rated compared to private schools.
Challenge of Democracy
Question: What is major challenge to democracy?
Answer: No country is described as completely democratic country. There are always certain challenges like
- caste system
- inequality of gender or gender bias
- economic or social inequality.
- communities and individuals are always trying to expand democracy. They push for equality on existing and new issues.
Question: Fill in the blanks with appropriate words.
- ………………… was the first state to introduce Midday meal scheme.
- We are represented in the Parliament through our …………….
- Our constitution recognizes everyone as equal before ………………..
- When people are treated unequally their ………………. is violated.
- Tamil Nadu
- elected representatives
Question: State whether the given statements are true or false.
- The Ansaris easily got a flat in the desired area.
- Joothan is an autobiography of Omprakash Valmiki.
- Kanta borrowed money to pay her electricity bill.
- Rosa Parks was an African-American.
Question: In a democracy why is Universal Adult Franchise important?
Answer: In a democracy every citizen is equal. The concept of Universal Adult Franchise is based on equality. Therefore, it is important in a democracy. Under Universal Adult Franchise every adult irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex etc. is allowed to vote.
Question: Re-read the box on Article 15 and state two ways in which this Article addresses inequality?
Answer: This Article addresses inequality in terms of access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment, or [b] the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of state funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
Question: In what ways was Omprakash Valmikis experience similar to that of the Ansaris?
Answer: Both Omprakash Valmiki and Ansaris were subjected to discrimination. Omprakash was not allowed to sit with other students in the classroom and was made to sweep the school and the playground only because he was a dalit. Similarly, the Ansaris were not given a flat in a locality where lived the people belonging to religion other than theirs. The moment the landlady came to know about their names, she declined to rent the house. In both the cases the dignity of a person is violated.
Question: What do you understand by the term “all persons are equal before the law”? Why do you think it is important in a democracy?
Answer: It means that every person, from the President of the country to a domestic help like Kanta has to obey the same laws. No person can be discriminated against on the basis of their religion, race, caste etc. Every person has access to all public places including playgrounds, hotels, shops and markets. All persons can use publicly available wells, roads and bathing ghats.
Equality is the soul of democracy. We know that democracy is a form of government which gives equal importance and recognition to all. If inequalities on the basis of race, religion, caste, etc. continue to exist, democracy would never flourish. Instead, it would perish very soon.
Question: The Government of India passed the Disabilities Act in 1995. This law states that persons with disabilities have equal rights, and that the government should make possible their full participation in society. The government has to provide free education and integrate children with disabilities into mainstream schools. This law also states that all public places including buildings, school etc., should be accessible and provided with ramps.
Look at the photograph and think about the boy who is being carried down the stairs. Do you think the above law is being implemented in his case? What needs to be done to make the building and accessible for him?
How would his being carried down the stairs affect his dignity as well as his safety?
Answer: The boy in the photograph is disabled. As per the law this building should have been accessible for him. But we see the law is not being implemented in his case. He is being carried down by security personnel through stairs. This building does not provide ramps. The boy’s dignity is overlooked here. He may morally feel inferior. The way he is carried down the stars may prove dangerous. Law should take this case to the court.
Question: What is Joothan about?
Answer: It is about the bitter experiences of growing up of a dalit boy.
Question: What suggestion was given to Ansaris by the property dealer?
Answer: They were suggested to change their names and call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Kumar
Question: On what basis were the Ansaris treated unequally?
Ans. The Ansaris were treated unequally on the basis of religion.
Question: What do you mean by ‘dignity’?
Answer: Dignity means thinking of one self and others as worthy of self-respect.
Question: What are the two ways in which the government has tried to implement the equality that guaranteed in the constitution?
- Through laws
- Through government programmes or schemes to help unprivileged groups
Question: Who have been employed to cook the meal under midday meal scheme?
Answer: Dalit women have been employed for this purpose.
Question: How did B.R. Ambedkar view self-respect?
Answer: B.R. Ambedkar viewed self-respect as the most vital factor in life, without which man was cipher.
Question: What was the condition of the African-Americans in the United States of America prior to 1950s?
Answer: Prior to 1950’s, the African-Americans were treated extremely unequally in the USA and denied equality through law.
Question: What is known as the Civil Rights Movements?
Answer: A movement took place in the USA in the late 1950’s to push for equal rights for African-Americans. This movement later came to be known as Civil Rights Movement.
Question: What is it that makes Kanta unsure?
Answer: Kanta is a poor domestic worker. She lives in a slum which is very filthy. Her daughter is sick but she cannot skip work because she needs to borrow money from her employers to take her daughter to the doctor. Her job as a domestic help is not a permanent. She can be removed by her employers any time.
Question: Mention two different kinds of inequalities that exist in our country. Give examples.
Answer: Two different kinds of inequalities that exist in our country are – inequalities based on the caste system and that based on the religion.
Omprakash Valmiki was treated extremely unequally because he was a dalit. In school, his headmaster made him sweep the school and the playground.
The Ansaris were treated unequally on the basis differences of religion. They were looking to rent an apartment in the city. They were about to take an apartment at the first sight. But the moment the land lady knew their names she declined to rent the house.
Question: Write a note on equality in Indian democracy.
Answer: The Indian constitution recognizes all persons as equals. This means that every individual in the country irrespective of his / her caste, religion, educational and economic backgrounds is recognized as equal. Although, inequality still exists in the country, yet the principle of the equality of all persons is recognized. While earlier no law existed to protect people from discrimination and ill treatment now there are several that work to see that people are treated with dignity.
Question: Write a brief note on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Answer: The Civil Rights Act was passed in the year 1964. The Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin. It also stated that all schools would be open to African-American children and that they would no longer have to attend separate schools specially set up for them. However, a majority of African-Americans continue to be among the poorest in the country.
Question: What are the provision made in the constitution for the recognition of equality?
Answer: The provisions made in the constitution for the recognition of equality are as follow:
- Every person is equal before the law. What this means is that every person, from the President of India to a domestic worker like Kanta, has to obey the same laws.
- No person can be discriminated against on the basis of their religion, caste, race place of birth or whether they are male or female.
- Every person has access to all public places including playgrounds, hotels, shops and markets. All persons can use publicly available wells, roads and bathing ghats.
- Untouchability has been abolished.
Question: How can you say that establishment of equality in society is a continuous struggle?
Answer: Inspite of several efforts made by the government inequalities still exist in our society. Even today low caste people are being discriminated against and treated unequally. The reason behind it is that people refuse to think of them as equal even though the law requires it. This attitude of the people is so deeply rooted that it can not change all of a sudden. It will take a lot of time. Even though people are aware that discrimination is against the law, they continue to treat others unequally on the basis of caste and religion. People are also discriminated against on the basis of economic status, disability and gender.
Unless people believe that every person deserves to be treated equally and with dignity, the present attitude cannot be rooted out. Changing people’s attitude is a very slow process and hence establishment of equality in society is a continuous struggle.