All the countries in the world have inequalities, India however has a unique blend of lethal schisms and disparities prevalent at the societal, family, community, regional, religious, caste and economic basis. Caste has a peculiar role in India that makes it stand apart from the rest of the world. Despite several legislations enacted and implemented it has crept into the modern routine and has manifested itself as a neo-culture. Caste stratification leads to class inequality, providing it a resilience that seems hard to defeat.
Gender inequality which is in a sense a democratic demographic inequality is another kind which is exceptionally high. This inequality is among the social disparities that keep large numbers of people on the margin of the 'New India'- not only women but also the men and children who would benefit from an active, informed and equal participation of women in public life. Gender inequality has reincarnated itself time and again in different forms ranging from deprivation of Right to Life to the fairer sex to educational disparity, political under-representation, inadequate workforce presence to rape, violence.
The newer faces of inequalities that India is witnessing are: occupational and educational inequalities. The new educational system gives credentials to make an entry into the Newly formed Middle class, this class which is particularly instrumental in carrying forward Backward Bharat to Inclusive India.
The Indian democracy finds itself in odds with the kind of inequalities we inherited from the past and many we created recently.
For a democratic institution, the real growth and development of the nation would embrace multifarious faces ranging from social, political, gender, educational, occupational & economic equalities. All these sum up to form the popular Democratic Equality.
Growth of the nation demands that the elementary education, primary health care and other things of importance and needs essential for building up the capacity of the disadvantaged sections of people are readily available to them and within their reach. The Food security act aims to feed nearly 70 % of the population and India has 50 % of its people which fall in the backward class(socially) implies that the nation has not achieved its aim of holistic equality and empowerment what was 65 years ago Nehru dreamed off.
The advancement of the country in various fields be it economic, social, environmental warrants the necessity to carry forward those neglected for centuries. This is not to say that everyone would come at par to each other or all could show the same results provided equality of resources and equity in distribution, but it would certainly reduce the gap between different sections of the society and would harness the potential of nearly 50% of the neglected demographic dividend.
One notion that prevails and is infact a sentimental hypothesis of the majority that Economic development would precipitate its benefits on all and All would rise up the ladder. However contrary to it, as Andre Beteille points out that its the grass root upliftment of the downtrodden lots that would empower the top of the economy. Today when India aims to reach the apex of the developmental growth it is subsequently being dragged backward by the inherent inequalities and deprivation present in the society. It is a fact that India spends substantial amount of its national budget on these deprived and socio-politico-economically disadvantaged people.
For instance, the dream of leading the world in all spheres makes no sense when the sovereign government is unable to empower and enforce the equality among its people. Converting an Indian city into a world class destination would perhaps be a moral sin when huge number of slums are not addressed in the cities.
The need of the hour and the demand of the democracy has zero tolerance for prevalent inequalities which in the long run ruin the prospects of the Nation. Sans doubt India has done commendable job in restricting the multifaceted deprivation among its population, however the task has not yet been accomplished and it is perhaps and should be a continual process in any democratic system.
There shall be a mechanism to constantly measure the progress in eliminating the wide gap of disparities and accordingly frame and target the policies. NREGA has been a wide success and there is a need to empower the youth and the seniors alike in various semi skilled jobs. Teaching to fish is better than providing a fish. The aim of the governance now has to be more on boosting the capabilities from the bottom so that the huge population that India boasts of should be self dependent and self sustaining, only then we as a nation would be able to achieve the aim of inclusive growth and holistic development marching ahead to becoming the power to reckon with for the whole world.
Indebted to following scholastic works:
A. Beteille: Ideology and Social Science.
A. Sen: India: An uncertain glory.