‘Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle’
This article starts with the smallest questions, why is equality said to be fiction by Bhimrao Ambedkar? And why is it termed as a dream? Before answering this let us get into the dimensions of equality and other factors supporting the notion of equality. India has always preached the notion of equality post-independence, however, we have not even come close to achieve the notion of the welfare state.
Dimensions of equality
The emergence of equality came after the rise of capitalism. However, equality is not only limited to equal opportunities, the notion of equality exceeds from that. Equality contains in itself: equality before the law, political equality, economic equality, social equality, socio-economic, gender equality, equality of opportunity.
India follows a system of substantive equality where there is the concept of uplifting the poor and re-distribution of wealth in the manner of taxes and other means. However, we have failed in doing so. According to Louis Dumont, in his book, he writes the concept of Homo Hierarchius and terms that inequality is the way of life in India due to the deep-rooted class-based system.
Have you ever wondered why Indians are obsessed with the fair skin tone? A notion of inequality is generated when we start to attach values to the differences we see in people. The Britishers publicly beat the Indians and the Britishers were rewarded for their work and put in higher positions. This subconsciously has transferred through the generations and hence we notice an inequality on this basis of colour which you might have not even realised why it existed till now.
A disharmonic society means a concept that the nation preaches but has not or cannot achieve. India preached and promised the notion of equality in the constitution of India, was it just a measure of remedy when one’s right under Article 14 is being violated?
When we state that there would be equality we are providing hope to people having lived their lives in utter poverty. However, when this hope is not fulfilled there is a conflict in the society amount the ‘haves and have nots’. In addition to that, this creates a disturbance in the society and hence can lead to revolt as per Karl Marx. This is the core concept of disharmonic society which India has adopted which ipso facto contains the notion of conflict.
In contrast to this, the Dharma-Shastras system divided society in four varnas (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishya and Shudras) forming a hierarchical stratification where equality was never preached. This thus does not create a situation of conflict in the society as they are not equal by ascription.
Culture of excellence
Pierre Bourdieu gave the idea of culture of excellence and this is truly a dream for India as this is an aftermath of providing equal opportunities. This concept is simplistic yet highly effective and applicable. It states that a person from a rich family having an educational background would have all the coaching, help, fees, educational training and motivation that he or she requires. However, when it comes to a person from a small village, these things are stripped off.
The culture of excellence merely states that there is a differentiation in the culture of one person who has been deprived of resources and to one which has got all the resources. This social differentiation changes into the culture of excellence in the format that even after equal opportunities there is a lack of an environment that provides positive motivational reinforcement.
Conclusion: The notion of equality in capitalism is a lie, the core definition of capitalism provides the basis of inequality. It enforces the notion of private ownership. India again preaches to be a socialist state, however, this is a fallacy. The current trend of privatisation (Example: Banking sector, Defence sector) clearly demonstrates the reality of the practice in this country. This phenomenon has to be changed in order to fulfil the dreams of our freedom fighters and give justice to the symbolism of trifecta in India.